I despise watching the news. It seems that the only things ever reported are stories that spotlight the violence, evil and hatred embedded into this world. Just last night I watched the news for about 10 minutes and the amount of violence reported was enough to bring one to their knees. My mother also informed me of some very terrifying news, that just makes me wonder “Why, why doesn’t God end it right here, right now?” I know this sounds so depressing, and at times it really feels like all I can see is the darkness.
I like instant gratification. I like that we live in a world where technology allows us to instantly get in touch with people who live thousands of miles away. I like that if I order something on Amazon it can be here in two days. I like things to happen quickly, and if possible, instantly. However, I have learned that this is not always the way God and God’s mysterious timing work.
Sometimes I catch myself wondering, with all this violence and evil that is constantly in our faces if there really is any good left. I watch people I love suffer from immense grief. I watch as dear ones struggle to make sense of broken relationships. I hear stories of strangers whose lives are riddled with nothing but despair. I look around at the brokenness of this world and I wonder where my God is? Why is the world as a whole not being reconciled right here, right now–instantly, all at once?
I can’t explain God’s mysterious timing. I can’t explain who God really is and how God works BUT I can and do cling to the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. A few months ago, I sat in my dear friend’s office and discussed Jesus and what Jesus did for this world. She looked at me and said, “Jesus came to bring healing. That healing may not come necessarily in the way want it or expect it to–but the healing comes.” I know, there are thousands upon thousands reasons to not believe in God, trust me I have played my hand at buying into those reasons myself. But still there is something that holds me captive to the hope that Jesus offers. I cannot and will not attempt to explain God’s mystery, I am merely a broken human, I will never be able to fully grasp all that God is. Yet, I can look for the beauty, do good, and celebrate in the joy.
Two of the themes for this season of life, for me and a friend of mine, are: how God’s timing is perfect and God’s hand upon our lives. I have found that if I trace the occurrences of my life, no matter how seemingly mundane, I find God’s majestic hands all over my life, especially in the nitty gritty details.
I want to share with you a story that I think touches on my life’s current themes and explains why I still cling to the hope of Jesus Christ.
Two weeks ago, I along with someone very special, made the Presbyterian pilgrimage to Montreat Conference Center. For so many, Montreat is a thin place, a place where God’s presence is clearly felt. I can now attest to just how special of a place it is. My trip, two weeks ago, was my first trip ever. For those of you who do not yet know, I am preparing to attend Columbia Theological Seminary and it just so happened that the weekend I visited Montreat, was the weekend the President of Columbia was going to be preaching. If that isn’t the Holy Spirit all up in my business, then I am not sure what is!
That weekend spent in the mountains was special for so many reasons and I have a hard time ignorning what I know to be God’s hand upon my life. As I sat in worship on Sunday, holding the hand of someone who means a lot to me, listening to the President of my future school, I heard the words I needed to hear and maybe the words you need to hear. She spoke of God’s timing and how it often seems too slow but how God’s reconciliation and healing comes when we least expect it and always at just the right moment. What really struck my heart, and caused the tears to flow freely, was when she spoke of how God’s healing and God’s reconciliation often comes in seemingly small and seemingly mundane ways. As I held the hand of the special human next to me, my eyes filled with tears (no surprise there) and my heart filled with joy and I began to giggle.
You see my friends, there is a whole backstory, that I won’t go into here, to how I came about holding this particular person’s hand. But what I realized in that moment was I am living into a healed relationship. This special human and I had been reconciled to one another–in a way neither one of us expected and yes, in God’s perfect time. I realized in that moment that we are a living, breathing representation of what God is doing for this world. We may be two people, we may only be one of many relationships in this world–but just as she preached, God’s healing often comes in small ways.
After that sermon, and actually, as I sit here writing this post I am thinking about the healing and reconciliation God has done for me in just the last year. I am overwhelmed when I actively search for God’s hands upon my life. Yes, oh God yes, I want this whole entire, broken, hurting, dark world to be healed and reconciled right now, but that doesn’t seem to be how it works. God works on God’s own timetable; which may seem slow to us, but is, I believe, perfect. I can’t explain the mystery that is God and God’s timing–but I can attest to its beauty and perfection.
My friend (because in my head we are the dearest of friends), Henri Nouwen, wrote in, my favorite book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, of a friend of his that searched for what is described as, “the small wonders of God” (p. 115).
“I have a friend who is so deeply connected with God that he can see joy where I expect only sadness…But even though he is very aware of the great upheaval of the world, he seldom speaks of it. When he shares his experiences, he tells about the hidden joys he has discovered. He tells about a man, a woman, or a child who brought him hope and peace. He tells about little groups of people who are faithful to each other in the midst of all the turmoil…He keeps saying, ‘I saw something very small and very beautiful, something that gave me much joy” (p. 115).
“‘I saw something very small and very beautiful, something that gave me much joy.'” Wow. What a beautiful statement. I guess I fall into the trap of expecting all of God’s healing to come in big, show stopping ways; when in reality, God’s healing often comes in the smallest of ways. Maybe it is just one relationship at a time, maybe it is God leading us to new communities of faith, or maybe it is me holding the hand of an incredible person simply sharing in the hearing of God’s goodness. God’s hand is still very much at work in this vast and seemingly dark world. I guess I am really working on looking for those “very small and very beautiful” things and allowing myself to participate in the joy that is there.
I am not immune to the great need and the immense suffering in this world. But I must look for the joy, look for the beauty still here; so that I can be strengthened, in order to go out and try to tend to people’s needs and to alleviate some pain, even if it for only one.
I am working on being obedient, on being open to other’s needs, on keeping my heart open so I can let God do what God does best, bring about healing and reconciliation.
Friends, I hope that wherever you are on this long journey called life you look for the magic in the mundane. I hope you sense the beauty that is still very present in the dark world. I hope that you take the joy that the beauty brings and pass it along. I hope you let that joy strengthen you, strengthen you to continue on this path, strengthen you to love with all you have, and strengthen you to cling to hope.
“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…”
May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,