Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Season for Miracles

Sunday's service and scripture readings reminded me that it is the season for miracles. The readings and sermon took us back to the night when Mary said, "Yes!" to an angel and became the mother of Christ. That bit about miracles always gives me a sense of wonder. Perhaps that's because miracles are so unexplainable or often answers to desperate needs. Whatever the reason, when we are the recipient of one we are as delighted as a child opening presents on Christmas day.

I happen to believe in miracles. Not just because the scriptures tell us they happened or the fact that a virgin gave birth to the son of God, but because I've been the recipient of a couple. They happened many years ago when I was just into my 30s and only recently come to believe fully. In an earlier post I told of how I came to believe and how I feel that was a miracle. I probably didn't call it such, the word miracle often engenders words of scorn from those who don't believe. But feeling the Holy Spirit pouring into you and establishing that connection with God surely classifies as one.

The church I came to full faith in was a small nondenominational church, Calvary Chapel of Corpus Christi. There were only about 40 members and 30 or so were regular attendees. With two services a week, a weekly bible study, and fellowship night on Friday's we became like family. And like any good family we enjoyed doing things together. During my time with that church we took 2 trips.

The first was a church retreat to Garner State Park. We weren't part of a huge network of congregations, so our church leaders called the park and reserved a group of campsites for us to use. Just about everyone left work early that day and got up there by late afternoon, but not me. I needed to finish my shift. My car was already packed with clothes and any supplies I had deemed important. So at 4:00PM I got into my car and headed out of town.

It's about a 6 hour trip to Garner, so by the time I got in it was dark and the park office had long since closed. Not having been foresighted enough to contact the group leaders, I didn't have any idea where the campsites were and driving around the camp in the dark seemed a bad idea. I checked the camp bulletin board and learned that if I parked my car near the office I could pay my camping fee in the morning when they opened. It was already after 10:00 PM and that seemed the most reasonable option. But as I set my car seen into recline to sleep the night there other vehicles started coming in and camping near where I was camped. They didn't all look like nice cars and some of the folk getting out of them looked less than reputable. I was getting sort of scared.

Just as I started to think about moving my car, up drove the truck of one of my church family and the owner and his son got out. I got out of my car and greeted them joyfully and with much relief. They knew the campsite number, had been there since just after night fell, and had been trying to find the campsite for a really long time. Over 4 and 1/2 hours in fact. They'd come to check the park map one more time before calling it quits. I got into their truck and we headed for one more trip around the circuit. And just after we started on the dirt road there it was! The very first campsite on the right! We pulled in, grabbed the camping gear and set up the tent at almost midnight. They let me share their tent so I had a safe place to spend the night.

Come morning we all talked about that night and looked at the camp roads again. They weren't difficult to navigate. Nor were the signs hidden from view but right there along the edge of the road. No reason we could come up with explained away the fact that they hadn't found the campsite location for over 4.5 hours. And I think that was the miracle. The site was so easy to find and I was so lost that we decided that God had "blinded" them to the location until they had reunited with me. I had one more wondrous experience while we were there that weekend. On Sunday morning just as we started service there in the sky was my first double rainbow.

The second trip was to the San Antonio Zoo. Corpus Christi isn't that far from San Antonio so we made a day trip of it. We left town really early in caravan style and got up there shortly after the park opened.

We had tons of fun wandering around looking at the different animals. Many of the church family had children, so the mothers and kids tended to stay grouped together as we went through the park. Steve Phillips and I were discussing prayer languages and speaking in tongues. Steve had experienced this but I hadn't and was curious. So on a pretty bridge overlooking a waterway, we stopped to talk about it.

We were so engrossed in our conversation that we didn't realize that the others had gone on without us. They hadn't noticed us stopping either, so they didn't tell us where they were headed for next. So, when our conversation finished, there Steve and I were looking around confusedly and checking our map to see if there was anything that looked likely. We didn't have a clue. Being mindful of the reason we were there, we did what any good Christian would do in such a situation; we started praying. Suddenly I got this immense urge to move, and in a specific direction. I didn't know where I was going, only that I had to go and which way. I grabbed Steve and hauled him off with me, explaining what I was feeling along the way.

So sure was I of my direction that we were moving really fast, not even checking the park map. As we raced across what was seemed like half the park Steve decided to check out a side building, but I didn't wait for him. He quickly decided to rejoin me and caught up with me just as I was headed through a pair of gates. Once through the gates we found ourselves in the Children's Petting Zoo and there they were. We were so happy to find them that it was a very joyous reunion. If Steve and I had tried to logic our way through that situation we might have eventually come up with the Children's area, but young singles are often clueless about what would motivate marrieds with kids. So heaven only knows if we would have ever come up with the right location. We could have wandered around for hours trying to find them.

Now when I think of a virgin giving birth to the one person who could reconcile our accounts with God, bringing us back into full communion with him, I tend to believe the stories we tell every Christmas. The rest of the world seems to want to believe in miracles too. Why else would we work so hard to help the needy or give desperately sick children and their parents the gift of joy and hope. So this year when you see the stars in the sky, and on top of your tree, I hope you'll join me in letting the wonder of the season fill your heart and believe.


San said...

Thank you for this very inspiring post, Lee. As a "directionally challenged"individual, I do believe that both accounts you've described are fraught with the miraculous. It's interesting that in one case, someone was led to you at the right time; in the other you were led to others.

Although your stories are about people being drawn geographically to the right spot in space and time, I also believe people are drawn to other hearts at the right time. Hence our friendship!

Wishing you many miracles this Christmas and in 2009...


Lee said...

Thank you, San, for reading so carefully. It's true as you noted that in each case someone was led to someone. That's been so true ever since I came to know Him. One thing I can say for sure, God has never let me walk alone. There has always been someone special I could talk with if I needed to. And that, my very dear friend, is why he put you in my life. I thank him every day for your gift of friendship. You are one in a million.

Happy, Happy Holidays!


jsd said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and to a hope filled year.

Lee said...

Thanks, JS! Right back attcha, and amen to the hope filled!


Sandi McBride said...

Merry Christmas Lee...a very inspiring post...Miracles happen whenever we first believe...and whenever something happens to reinforce that belief...

Lee said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Sandi! Thank you! I'm delighted that you liked the post. You're so right! Miracles do indeed happen!