The Miracle

Sometimes I just cannot get a grasp on time. There are times when things fly by. Like the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. College football season is another time that whirls by for me. Anytime I am on a cruise ship it’s like as I walk the gangplank to get on I can already see myself walking down the other side off the ship. Time is flying.

Someone this weekend caught me in contemplation mode and asked me what I was thinking about (that’s what happens when you get real quiet during a mic check with a bunch of people watching). It had just suddenly slammed in my mind that it had been almost exactly a year since The Miracle. For all my restlessness, wanting things to be further along, it has only been a year. It has just seemed like so much longer.

At the end of July last year I spent two weeks serving at a camp for the disabled in Wisconsin. Away from everything and pretty much everyone for two weeks. God was able to start talking to me. Well, strike that. God had been talking to me the entire time, it’s just that I wasn’t listening. Turning my back with my arms crossed. I had decided it was time to live by Frank Sinatra’s motto and do things my way.

In Wisconsin, I was confronted by the dependence of the people of the camp. They each had a counselor dedicated to their needs. A buddy for people who had pretty much no one. This camp was their one week to forget they were disabled. Most impactful for me was watching these people worship and sing in chapel. Despite their circumstance and the genetic hand they were dealt, these were some of the most thankful people I’d ever seen. Trusting God. Embracing His offer of love. And I got to watch it all as I worked the sound booth. (Anyone who knows me is probably dumbstruck to learn that I ran sound, since my motto is that I sing for volume. But I’m also teachable and I did a great job.)

I was still fully in the wrong place spiritually, but I recall that during that time my heart developed its first cracks. So I spent my week teaching people how to fish (another incredibly ironic thing, since I don’t fish), serving meals and running sound. I still wanted what I wanted rather than what God wanted, but the mental images of those campers still has not left me.

Once back home, I was ruled by the same discontent. Firstly, I wanted to be loved. To have someone to appreciate and respect me (ironic when my behavior was so unrespectable). Someone who wouldn’t push me away. At the same time, I wanted confidence that God loved me. People had been telling me God loved me. I just didn’t feel it. In fact, I was afraid. Afraid to die. Driving on I-4 used to terrify me.

One of the bargains I had with God was – “Just give me a couple years. I’ll show you how good I can be. You can still use me in ministry. I can be a good husband for someone else. Just give me some time.” I wanted God to accept things my way. And you can see how much I thought His love for me was based on how I performed. In essence, God if we just change things around I can show you that I am worth loving.

Yet, as you would expect, I had no peace. In fact, I was constantly anxious. Fighting God consumes a lot of energy, both physical and emotional. I was angry at pretty much everyone, but most of all, I was really, really mad at God. Wasn’t He supposed to love me? Why was that one simple thing so far from a reality for me?

Emotionally, I was like a pimple. Painful pressure and it was time to break. So, as I was driving down I-4 (another irony) one fine August day, I was screaming at God. Letting it all hang loose. I am sure I looked like the crazy guy to the people slinging past me. Or maybe they didn’t notice. Not sure, because I didn’t notice them. I was focusing all my venom on God. “What is the problem here? Why can’t you love me? Why won’t things work out? Aren’t I worth having someone who loves me?” and on and on and on it went. For a couple miles.

When I paused for breath, The Miracle happened. I would not make this up. I wasn’t driving into the sun. There were no bright lights. But as I closed my eyes, through the tears, the words “It’s your sin.” were written before me. Like that, I felt freer. I had a rush of understanding. The best way I can describe it is it is like in the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon. When the Grinch is hanging over the cliff, holding onto the sleigh of stolen Christmas articles with all his might. Listening to the Whos down in Whoville sing their song. “And the Grinch’s small heart grow three sizes that day…”

Don’t know how many sizes exactly, but my heart grew that day. It was my sin. I knew what I was doing was wrong, so it is hard to explain how this was a new revelation, but somehow it was. And dramatic. It’s like the clouds cleared and my satellite dish could finally receive the signal. God did love me, but I was getting in the way.

Like the Grinch, I wasted no time beginning the process of making things right. Went to my wife and apologized. Made a plan with her. Went to everyone I had wronged in some way, some only slightly but I loved telling this story, and asked forgiveness. Ended my other relationship. Began to live out of the truth of God’s love rather than the lie of worldly satisfaction.

While my eyes were focused on my immediate sin, God had a much larger picture. As He always does. In the year that has seemed so long, I have learned a lot of details about myself – some very excruciating – and one of the most important is that my root sin that I battle is Pride. Know your enemy. As I look back on The Miracle, and what God wrote to me, I really think that this is the sin He was referring to. We just needed some time to work together to get there.

Well, there is my Miracle. My gift from a patient and loving Father in Heaven. Amidst all that I got a job (another miracle, a funny and amazing story) and found a grace filled church (simply a rarity in church-world). There has been so much change in me this year, both within and without, and that may be why it has felt so long – because so much has been crammed in.

Thank you God for my Miracle.

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