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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lovely Little Miracles

When we think of miracles, we tend to think in terms of the really big ones.  Christ raising people from the dead, feeding 5,000 people with one kid's picnic lunch, those sorts of things.  We seem to act sometimes as if God only shows up in burning bushes or pillars of cloud and fire.  We are often oblivious to the fact that He is all around us, everyday, performing miracles constantly.  It's like our internal radios are tuned into one station and we never touch the dial.  It is, by and large, a really annoying channel too, full of commercials for what we "need" and depressing, self-defeating tunes played on a repeating loop.  Songs like "I Can't Do It" or the ever-popular "Why Me?"

It really does only take a slight adjustment to retune our thoughts to Him.  Phillipians 4:8 makes it clear where our thoughts should be.  We are to be tuned into things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.  My favorite in this list is "lovely."  There is something about that word that makes me smile just saying it.  I want to think lovely thoughts about lovely things.  Lovely.  

Granted, it is sometimes difficult to think of something lovely, much less something pure, noble, etc.  We get down in the dumps and all we can think about is the dark, nasty, unfair stuff.  There are ways to combat this though.  One device I use is music.  I'm a tried and true music geek and most of my favorite artists sing songs that are pretty bleak.  I love Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits to name a few.  And, in my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with liking and listening to these artists.  If, however, I'm thinking to myself, "What's the point of it all, anyway?" and working myself into a pretty good hopeless depression spiral, it is probably not a good idea to pop in Mule Variations and get some psych support from Mr. Waits.  Recipe for disaster.  That is when my praise music comes in handy.  If you find Christian music annoying, as many do, use whatever works for you.  You know what your happy tunes are.  I don't care if it's Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, play it loud, play it proud and sing, sing, sing.  I promise it won't be long before you can think of a happy thought and once you've thought of one, they will keep on coming.  

The other thing I have started doing is keeping a miracle journal.  I got the idea from Priscilla Shirer's study on Exodus titled One in a Million.  She talks about how quickly the Israelites forgot about the miracles God performed for them in the desert and the abundance of life awaiting them in the promised land.  She points out that we too forget the amazing things that happen in our lives and our focus becomes our hardships, fears and anxieties.  She urges us to write the good stuff down.  I did this study over a year ago and fully intended to keep this journal.  What I realized recently, though, was I was waiting for really big stuff to write down.  Because I've been blessed to experience lots of really big, WOW miracles in my life, I fully expect them.  That's not a bad thing; it's a good one.  But it can also be dangerous, because God does not always show up in big, glossy, glamorous ways.  He is most often the still, small voice.

So I'm going to start recording what I call "mini miracles."  Little, everyday happenings that make me smile, that brighten my day, and that are, in fact, miracles.  For example, several days ago I had one of those "why is my kid so quiet?" moments and investigated, only to discover Baby Girl perched on my bathroom sink drawing on the mirror with Vaseline.  I focused on two praiseworthy things.  First, I had found out that the medicine cabinet was no longer baby proof without the need to call poison control.  Second, I praised Baby Girl's discovery of Vaseline-on-glass as an artistic medium.  This all to keep me from losing my cool over the fact that she had smeared petroleum jelly all over one of her best dresses.  

I have had lots of laundry adventures and if I have found out one thing it is that, absent some heavy duty Oxy Clean, oil-based stains just don't come out.  I had no Oxy Clean and no cash or motivation to go buy any.  So while I did spray a little Shout on her frock it was really only out of habit not any real hope of stain removal.  I tossed it into a cold wash and murmured a little prayer:  "Please, God, let that stain come out."  Once the wash was done, I tossed it into the drier without even looking.  A day later, I retrieved it and inspected it for damage, expecting to make a determination of whether it was wearable, if it was destined for the donation pile, or if it was basically a fabric scrap.  To my amazement, there was not a stain to be found.  Anywhere, at all.  Now, that is what I call a miracle.

I know some people may be scoffing that I think God cares about my laundry.  I know in the big scheme of things the issue of whether or not my little girl's dress has a stain on it is not of global importance.  In fact, it is a privilege to even have that concern in a world full of children who may not have a stitch of clothing to wear, stained or unstained.  But the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and also to pray in all things.  So, in that sense, He does care about my laundry.  He cares about the little prayers and the big ones.  He shows His presence, His relevance, and His love everyday, sometimes in big, dramatic ways and sometimes in tiny touches.  

I wrote my stain-removal mini miracle down, not because of its earth-shattering significance, but because it will remind me in those moments when I feel like He's not listening that He actually is.  That in all times and in all circumstances, He is there, watching over me and caring for me.  I wrote it down because it is a lovely little miracle.  When my thoughts begin to darken, when clouds begin to gather, I can turn to it as a jumping off point to remember all the things in this world that are praiseworthy, excellent, and true.  For He is great and worthy to be praised.  We just have to tune in to the right station.

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