When I was a little girl it didn’t take me too long to realize that finding the right words was extremely important. I would always try to use the phone book and it would constantly redirect me to another word. I would look up beauty shop and it would tell me to see “salon.” I would look up tires and it would tell me to see “automotive.” I guess I have become a bit of an all-around word nerd since then. I feel that same exasperation when trying to find out how and where God is taking me, what He is saying, and how I am to say His words.
There are times in life when the stars align just right and the heavenlies touch the earth. Because of the rarity of such times, the level of grand amazement in these experiences is quite overwhelming and sincerely humbling.
Of course God is always speaking; always teaching; always calling. Yet, sometimes, for reasons unknown he chooses to do so in substantially more personal, more intimate, and more direct ways. Therefore, while I would stress the caution needed in recognizing every single seeming coincidence as God’s unmistakable, Almighty voice, I must share the absolute certainty I have in the fact that he can and does speak in all sorts of unorthodox, nontraditional ways when he has something specific to say.
Cue crazy story of incidentals told by wild-eyed little girl.
Last week I went to a new medical doctor. To my surprise, he listened intently to my symptoms and concerns and then asked if could pray for me before further diagnosis or treatment. He told me he has a gift given by the Holy Spirit both to sense and to heal those whom God has chosen for a particular healing. He told me he felt that anointing come over him as soon as I walked into his office.
Um. Oooook. I am a textbook Christian. As much as I would like to be able to say it, by that I do not mean I do everything by the book without error. What I mean to say is that I adhere very closely to the Bible’s text and that, generally, I am not one to believe in faith-healers or anyone who proclaims themselves so. When I think of faith healers, I think of heresy. I think of a false gospel. I think of heretics and con-artists. I do not think of genuine Christians who seek to live out their calling faithfully within the sphere of their everyday job. I do not think of people like, say, doctors, who pray for patients they have never met before as they offer to hold babies just because, by the way.
Still, the Bible itself does not disallow God to heal us through the earnest prayer and the laying on of hands by another fellow Christian. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Bible actually does teach that we are to both do and believe in these methods when afflicted.
The doctor told me he had sensed very strongly that I not only needed healing, but that God indeed wanted to heal me that very day, as well as progressively in the coming days of the near future. Right. Now I am thinking, “Of course I need healing. Isn’t that why I am at the doctor?” To believe him was somewhat difficult, even though I am a Christian who wholeheartedly believes in prayer as well as other-worldly healing, however, the authenticity of his conversation caused me much personal conflict regarding my doubts and disbelief. I discerned that the things he was saying were both true and of God but I was afraid to believe them.
I do need healing. I do not always live in God’s peace. I do have difficulty trusting God. I stand in need of more grace for others. There are people I continue to struggle to forgive.
All of these things he knew without me confessing. Still, perhaps most people have these same struggles, right? Lucky guesser? Perhaps.
For two nights I puzzled. I made lists labeled “real” and “fake.” I drank more than my share of wine. I looked up scriptures. I sat in silence looking at the stars and I wondered. I ran many miles. I prayed for clarity. I sought counsel. I doubted and feared the reality of God’s literal voice saying audible words through a person I did not know when I was least expecting. The first thing his healing prayers did was turn my very organized, intellectual theology and systematic mind into an unsolved Rubik’s cube of chaos. I simply could not figure out what I was supposed to make of this unusual event. When theology becomes reality it can be quite unsettling.
My husband and I left on vacation two days later. As I sit on a rock writing this and gazing out at a beautiful lake on a beautiful day, I struggle to find words that could possibly express how good my God is to me. Word nerd or not, I cannot find them though they are many. The things he has done in just three days time have proven to me beyond any doubt that he not only indeed has something serious to say, but that he wants me to listen close.
Everything the doctor told me was simple, yet profound. Simple because I had heard it all before and knew it to be true. Profound because I did not hear it the 3,000 times before when God and others had said it. Like the gospel. We hear it and hear it and hear it, but until God makes us hear it, we are utterly deaf.
He told me God wants my trust. This is something a father figure used to tell me often. How did he know whether I was trusting God or not? He did not. God knew. He said God wants to heal me. That He will give me more grace to be kind and gentle. How did he know those were the two fruits of the Spirit I struggle most with? He did not. God knows.
The first sign I saw on our anniversary trip said, “Smile. Pray. Be kind.” Of course it did. That is what the doctor said. Simple, yet profound. Coincidence? Maybe.
We were seated outside for the first meal we shared. We heard church bells ringing loudly nearby. They were playing the tune of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” which is my favorite hymn from childhood. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think. God had my attention.
I looked up the history of the meaning of church bells at noon and it was decreed by a Pope in the 15th century. The ringing served as an encouragement to fighting soldiers at war as well as a reminder for Christians to pray for those soldiers. God was encouraging me. He was reminding me that he wants me to pray, always – just like the doctor said.
After we ate we bought a magazine and went out on the lake to sit in the sun. It was “Mad Magazine.” I have never ever bought myself a Mad Magazine. I only picked it up because the cover was imitating adult coloring books and my oldest daughter likes those. We thought it looked funny so we bought it. Inside was a limited time offer for a sketch of Alfred standing in the rain with an umbrella made to look like the Morton salt girl.
When I had been waiting in the doctor’s exam room I noticed a glass with the Morton salt girl painted on it. I sat and thought on the glass for quite a few minutes before he came in. When is the last time you thought about the little umbrella girl on the salt? Never? Exactly. Coincidence? Not a chance.
Mad Magazine was my daddy’s favorite. I remember him reading it when I was a little girl. My heavenly father knew. He was confirming what he used that doctor to tell me.
When I think of being a little girl, I think good thoughts. That is why all the books I have written on theology are titled, “One Little Girl’s Journey Through…” Many things this weekend reminded me that I am my Father’s daughter. I am his little salt girl. I am the apple of his eye. I am special to him. All the things I struggle to believe with any amount of certainly every single day. Here are a few…
There was a beach called “Bundy.” Daddy loved Al Bundy in the sitcom “Married with Children.” There was a man playing acoustic guitar outside – just like Daddy always did. The song he sang was “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” The lyrics say the man lived on the south side of Chicago – where Daddy lived when that song was popular. We rented a kayak and capsized twice. We talked about what to name our new stuffed pet frog and settled on “Overboard” – Daddy’s favorite movie. When Tim was towing me back to shore, (because every time I tried to re-enter the kayak, it capsized again) I told him I was a mermaid. The restaurant we went to after our unexpected swim had a drink called “Tiny Tim’s Mermaid Delight.” We smelled a skunk which always makes me happy and reminds me of being a little girl. The church we attended on Sunday was located on Saltsman Road and Station Street. Salt, reminding me of the little salt girl and station, reminding me of the street I spent the first 20 years of my life growing up on. The sermon referenced Luke 8:16-25 whose parallel is Matthew 5:13-16 which includes the reference that we are to be the salt of the earth. The message’s main points were that God has obligated himself to us through unbreakable promises, that we have a father who is determined to do us good, we must relax and entrust ourselves to him and he will give us his peace. The woman playing the piano was the spitting image of the older Ally who played the piano in the movie “The Notebook.” I always tell Tim he is my Noah.
I always refer to myself as the little girl. God wants me to be the little salt girl, though. Even in the rain, she will be the salt of the earth. He is my Father. The whole weekend He was saying, “Here’s Daddy. Here’s Daddy. Here’s Daddy. I love you. You are loved. I know you. I love you.”
I thought my anniversary was just about my earthly marriage. I came to find out that it is just as much about my heavenly one. I am so amazed.
God spoke clearly so many time directly to me over the past three days. Everything was absolutely perfect. How could I not trust him? How can I deny his love for me? How can I not extend kindness and gentleness and grace when I have been given so much of each?
I cannot. I am smitten. So in love. Thank you, Lord for renewing, restoring, and redeeming me, our marriage, and my faith. Amen.