I’ve had an awful day. I woke up with a horrible pain in my arm that nagged me all day. And then our best friends’ daughter decided to use a drawer in our home as a trampoline and broke it. But the worst of it was when my husband and I discovered that we had lost a $1500 money order. We spent 2 hours searching with no luck. And finally, during a break from our hunt, our pizza caught fire in our oven. It’s not been a good day. And the whole time I was searching for that darn money order, I just kept praying that God would lead me to it. That He who knows all would point me in the direction. That He who does miracles and wonders would make it appear in the drawer I had checked six times already. But He didn’t. And it made me sad. I couldn’t see God’s hand in my day and it grieved my spirit a bit.
And then my husband turned on a live feed from the middle school retreat my oldest son is attending this weekend. And I watched over 2500 middle schoolers, including my 12-year-old son, raising their hands in worship. Singing with abandon and passion. Eyes closed and hearts wide open. And God was moving. Powerfully, profoundly, clearly. Although God didn’t seem to be moving in my day, I didn’t have to look very far to see Him moving in ways mighty and undeniable. I imagine a similar phenomenon took place in the apostle Paul’s life. Paul spent roughly 5 to 6 years in prison during the course of his ministry and I imagine that those were grueling years. But I wonder if the worst part of his stay was the feeling of abandonment he must’ve felt at times. He was imprisoned for his faith in a God who did miracles. A God who fed thousands and healed hundreds. A God who raised the dead and saved souls. A God who could, if He so chose, shatter chains, disarm guards and throw open prison doors. And yet, for Paul, He didn’t. He remained silent and unmoving in Paul’s cell. But thank goodness for the mail! Letters that Paul received in jail assured him that God was moving outside those prison walls. That He was moving faster and farther than Paul ever could’ve dreamt possible.
Sometimes, when we don’t see God moving in our small worlds, the very best thing to do is take a step outside. God is moving. God is working. His hand is sweeping magnificently and beautifully across canvases all around us. And when we witness such glorious progress, such exceptional activity, there is no response but to fall on our knees, lift our hands in the air and thank the God of wonders that stagnation and silence is not in His repertoire. That although He may appear silent and unmoving in our world, He is more than likely speaking clearly and moving dramatically right next door. And while that is often frustrating and sometimes even discouraging, I find that it is also comforting. It gives me great joy and solace just knowing that God does move. That He acts in the midst of brokenness. That He speaks into pain and loss even when it’s not my own. That He prompts hearts and bends spirits beyond what I can see. That His hand creates brush strokes that are far broader and deeper than my own small world. And I am left confident that this is enough for today. Outside these immediate walls, my son is growing, his heart is softening and his spirit is deepening. And that is more than enough.