I heard a story recently about a young man who escaped his Central-American country and arrived in the United States seeking political asylum. It seems that in his country of origin, he had been threatened and even beaten; and when it became clear that his life was at risk, he fled north.
He literally walked to the United States. That’s thousands of miles.
And when he arrived, his journey wasn’t over. Suffering from PTSD from the violence in his home country, he arrived and immediately sought political asylum. As was described to me, it seemed that a pro-bono attorney assigned had limited experience (and that experience is in a different field of law), and a pro-bono psych assessment were assigned in a lackluster and even hopeless efforts to cross “t’s” and dot “i’s” for an expected negative result.
But that inexperienced attorney and that psych assessor threw themselves into the case, and – against substantial odds – this young man was recently granted political asylum! As I understand it, he’s headed to a program in Texas that will provide care and education that will aid him in integrating into the United States.
I simply cannot find another word to describe this that is better than: miracle.
And I know that’s a big word, maybe with some assumptions behind it. Often we think a miracle must be either: some supernatural phenomenon like a pillar of fire or a divided sea; or like one of those events that is often ridiculed, like finding Jesus’ face on a piece of toast.
This is not to say that God can’t summon fiery columns, and this is not to say that Jesus’ appearance in unexpected places is something to laugh about. This is to say that we have opportunity to see God’s miracles in times and places where we don’t often choose to look. This is to say that God’s miracles may happen more often than we think. This is to say that God’s work can also be found in the middle spaces, in the gray areas, in the in-between and unexpected.
A mentor of mine reminded me years ago that: “when we look for God, we find God.” And a parallel message I saw not long ago was on a banner outside a church from another denomination: “God is still speaking.” I believe both of these to be true!
The miracles of God are not relegated to ancient texts or a comedian’s punch line. God continues to work and to speak and to inspire! I think of times that unexpected goodness is found in the midst of a challenging situation.
Personally, I think of the times when a stranger or one of my children or one of our Wednesday night guests says exactly the right thing at the exact time that I need to hear it. I think of the times when a random event throws off my schedule in exactly the right way to make everything work out perfectly. I think of the conversations that take place that help me to see an experience God in a new way.
I think of the stories of unexpected success, unexpected grace, and unexpected humility, unexpected joy, unexpected gratitude, unexpected healing, unexpected strength, unexpected wisdom; these stories that I hope we all get to hear!
My friends, God is at work all around us! God is speaking all around us! God’s miracles are before us! God is continuing to do new things and to work in all places!
I invite you to take prayerful time each day to look around for the ways that God is present and working in the world, and the ways that God is present and working in your lives. Because I believe that when we look for God, we will find God.
May we know God’s miracles, big and small!