The Normalcy Of The Miraculous
When I first started to travel to other countries, one thing that always shocked me was how no matter where I went, I felt at home. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t normalcy. It was something bigger and more... More like “Out Of Africa” or “Dr. Zhivago”. Maybe because mission work had been so built up in my head after years of knowing God was directing my path in that direction, or maybe it was my teenage angst that wanted to be anywhere but suburban American. Whatever the reason for my big expectations and the big something I was sure I would feel, it never happened. It was quickly normal to shop in an open air market and see all the rules I’d learned working in a restaurant in The States didn’t apply to most places. It was quickly normal to ride a bus in a city with no signs in English. I easily grew accustomed to not understanding what was said around me and always felt very at home. I’ve written before about how God took me on a journey of enjoying the everyday and not looking for the big event to satisfy some need for adventure, but this isn’t the same thing. No it struck me years ago how I had built up cross-cultural living in a way that was not what my reality ever looked like. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I didn’t have culture shock. Three months into a four year stay in Romania, I hit the wall and hit it hard. But even with all the hardships that come from living in a country different from your origin, I always had a deep feeling of normalcy that shocked me. There was a time I wondered if I was just ungrateful or broken in some way because I thought there should be some grand feeling of appreciation beyond the norm. The fact was when I was eight years old I had a dream that I would be living and sharing the love of Jesus in another country. When it happened I was able to enjoy it but there was no big “Ah-ha” moment. It was just life. A life I would enjoy some parts of while other parts not so much. The same is true of a lot of the miracles God does in my life. I’m grateful for when He takes care of me and appreciate it so much, but honestly I expect Him to come through because that's who He is. There have been many times when me and my little ’94 Wrangler have been stuck on the side of the road or have barely slid into the parking lot where she was going to get an engine update. God has always provided for my safety and her repair. Each of these times I can look back and see how He had orchestrated the events so I have been taken care of in a way I couldn’t even begin to ask for. And again while I'm thankful and my heart is full of gratitude, there's no big "Eureka!" moment. Although I acknowledge it's a miracle, it feels normal.
There’s a scene in the movie “Minority Report” which comes to mind in times like this. The main character (Tom Cruise) has kidnapped a woman named Agatha who can see the future and it turns out to be more of a rescue that a kidnapping. As they are being chased by men with big guns through a mall, Agatha starts telling him to do random things like grab a black umbrella. At one point she instructs him to drop coins on the ground near a homeless man. As the man is crawling on the ground to pick the money up, he trips the people chasing them. At one point they are in the middle of an open area and she tells him to stop. It seems like the most foolish choice because they are exposed and the men chasing them are close. But at the exact right time, a little girl asks her mom for a balloon from a vendor walking around with huge bouquet. The balloons prevent them from being seen in a way no one would even think to suspect they were hiding in plain sight. Then as they head outside, it is raining so they pop up their generic umbrella that blends into the masses and walk away. Since seeing that movie over a decade ago, God has brought it to my memory over and over again, and I think it depicts so beautifully what a life lived by the leading of The Holy Spirit is like. Who knows how God has ordained our day to go and if we follow His leading, there is an ease and a grace that is indescribable. Even in the hardest of situations, when God has led us there, when we submit to His leading, we will see so many moments when He’s given us the umbrella or asked us to wait only to bring the bouquet of balloons to keep us safe. This morning was one of those moments for me. I found myself in a situation that in the past has caused me great anxiety but quickly discovered that God had orchestrated the events surrounding it in a way that was nothing short of miraculous protection. And one of the most beautiful things about it is no one around me would have ever suspected that I had an internal struggle and no one saw the miraculous in it but me. It was just a sweet little reminder that I am passionately loved by The Creator Of The Universe and He is faithful to take care of me even when I don’t know I’m needing Him to intervene. In these times, like traveling overseas, I used to think I should feel differently. Don’t get me wrong, I am so stinkin grateful and my heart is so full of love in those moments I wonder how I breathe because of the quiet contentment that envelops every fiber of my being. But it feels normal. He parted the Red Sea when His people were being persued so of course He can make sure when my car breaks down it’s right outside a fire station where some strong men can help me push it the rest of the way to the parking lot. He gave Samson the strength to kill a bunch of men with a donkey jaw bone, so when I’m at the gym and the workout seems way more than my 38 year old asthmatic lungs can handle and I’m tempted to give up, I can finish the last round because He gives me the strength. He used Rehab to rescue the scouts in Jericho so of course it’s nothing to use me to speak life and His love into the stranger I meet at the playground. When I choose to submit to Him and follow His leading, He ordains my day in a way that is nothing short of miraculous. Deep in my heart I trust my days are written by Him and He has me so when He shows up, I’m never shocked. He is God. He is faithful. He is powerful. He is good. And He loves me so of course I’m going to see His hand move when my eyes are open to see and my heart is open to be touched.