gratitude

Small miracles

Today’s post is written by a new guest contributor, my pastor & friend, Rian Puckett. Thanks for this reminder, Rian.

My keys were lost, I was late, and my blood pressure was rising.  I felt compelled to pray. Now I know that there are those who will hear this story and think “coincidence.” Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that at that moment I felt compelled to pray and that which I prayed about was resolved.

That was the beginning of a series of small miracles that week. My daughter, who eats entirely too much sugar, had what we though was a routine cavity. However, when we went to the dentist, she refused to open her mouth. You want to talk about being frustrated? Here we were, taking off work to take her to the dentist and she is refusing to cooperate. A visit to the pediatric dentist in another town was scheduled for the next day which made me livid. My wife took off work to take her, and when they did their examination, they discovered that not one but two teeth on opposite sides of her mouth needed to come out. She had never even complained about the other tooth hurting! Fortunately we were in the right place to deal with the problem. I felt a little ashamed of my attitude the previous day. Because when all the events played out, I could see God working in mysterious ways, and I had to say “Sorry for not trusting you. Thank you.”

mountains-2648796_1280It is easy to forget to be grateful for the small miracles of every day. Those things that “just happened” at the right time. There is a story in the Old Testament about a prophet named Elijah who was looking for an encounter with God and had been instructed by God to stand on the side of a mountain. The account says that there was a great and powerful wind that tore the mountains apart but that God was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake and then a fire, but God was not in either of those. Finally, there was a gentle whisper, and Elijah recognized it for the voice of God.

I believe that many times the small miracles of our everyday are the whispering voice of God reaffirming involvement in our lives and reminding us that we are not alone. For this, I am grateful.

gratitude

Signs

*Thanks to my friend Jonathan Weigt for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

So lately I’ve been struggling with several prayer agenda items. I keep asking for answers, or guidance, or clairvoyance, or whatever. You know… things you recite over and over and over daily. And these things, to me, have not been revealed in any way that I have been able to ascertain for going on several months now. Honestly, I’m frustrated.

Last night, in an ultra rare instance, Laura and I found ourselves sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing a little after 8. I mean, this never happens! I forget how the conversation started, but we got on the subject of “How do you recognize the answers to prayers, or how do you know you are being led?”

Sometimes doors open, and it’s pretty obvious. Short of being hit in the head, you are basically an idiot if you don’t see it. But other times, it can be so much more esoteric in nature. No answer at all really… or maybe it is, and you are just not looking in the right direction and literally missing the writing on the wall. Who knows?

Laura and I have been church shopping since after Christmas. At the time, we had different church homes and preferences. I guess we still do to some degree. Her kids seemed to be struggling at the church they attended; they didn’t really seem to be learning anything about religion. And my kid is a whole different story… I digress… It appeared on the surface, and through questions, that Sundays were a mere social experience for them. Not that church socialization isn’t important, but when pressed for “What did you learn today,” the answers were usually “Uh….there was a story about a guy that, uh….”

We talked and wanted to find a place that would fit all of us well, including kids, and not to mention me. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with that place either. In fact, I didn’t like it for some purely personal reasons… not that it was a bad place or had faulty theology or anything. So we’ve church hopped since then. Several weeks here, a couple weeks there, a couple of “spray and pray” attempts. (For those who don’t know, spray and pray is basically going somewhere random in hopes of an epiphany.) And the whole time, I’ve been extremely frustrated. I mean geez… of all things, why wouldn’t God make this blatantly obvious? (In red letters: YOU SHOULD GO HERE is what I guess I expected to hear each Sunday.)

Then, we learn via Twitter, that her oldest, the one who seemed to be struggling the most with religion in general, not to mention developing any sense of personal relationship, got saved the other weekend at the first place via some conference that someone else coerced her to attend. Now she wants to go each Wednesday night and the weekends. Odd really. Did I just get a sign?

So. How do you recognize it? What signs does God use in your life? I’d like to hear.