Adam has recently been reading “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” a collection of sermons by Eugene Peterson, and he has been reading them daily with our little one snug on his chest, eyes staring up at him as he reads. (Between Peterson in the mornings and C.S. Lewis for story-time at bedtime I am expecting her to have an incredible vocabulary.)
Their daily reading of this collection got me keen to read as well and I was struck deeply by one of Petersons sermons on the conception of Isaac. Maybe, having journeyed through infertility, I am drawn to the story of Abraham and Sarah (though our story with its half a decade of waiting & bitter diagnosis seems nearly incomparable to this couple who was well past the age of child bearing and even after the promise of a son from God Himself still had to wait years to see the promise fulfilled.) Yet in their story, we see the miraculous. We see the ‘impossible’ become ‘possible’ as God fulfills His promise to them with the birth of a boy named Isaac.
And as I read Peterson’s reflections, I find myself stopping to read and re-read the following words:
” … the birth miracle takes place in the most ordinary of settings. When we hear the word miracle, we must not imagine fireworks and drum rolls and trumpet blasts and then, presto, a piece of heavenly magic that sends us reeling…Birth. Life erupting in the form of an infant in the everyday lives of Abraham and Sarah. Invisible faith becoming a visible event. It is the most spiritual act and most visible. There are years of waiting and giving up, years of praying and doubting, years of venture and holding back. And then there is an infant that can be measured and weighed and fed and clothed. God calls. Abraham believes. God promises. Sarah conceives and gives birth. Abraham and Sarah, a man and a woman of faith, have a son.”
“And Sarah Conceived” – As Kingfishers Catch Fire
After years in our own journey of waiting, giving up, praying, and doubting, we too have been able to hold a little life in our arms, the one doctors said would be near if not down right impossible to conceive. And what strikes me most is the ordinariness of it all. Our miracle baby was born into this world with only me, her father, and our midwife present. She came just as all babies do. And as the days go on, she cries and sleeps and eats, and Adam and I change her and feed her and endure nights with little sleep, and life continues as it did before, only with this sweet one in it.
And sometimes, if I am honest, I forget she is a miracle.
Because to me, miracles are supposed to be BIG and loud and earth shattering.
And miracles should make us feel overwhelmed with BIG emotions. (Even as I ponder it now I can’t even really pinpoint exactly what those emotions should be, but they ought to be, at the very least, incredibly noteworthy and euphoric one would think!)
And the arrival of Elisabeth Grace?
The ground didn’t shake.
Nor was I filled with a euphoria beyond anything I’d known before.
She came into our lives as I groaned in pain, and when they placed her on my chest the world has never seemed so quiet.
And my heart? it was filled with a gentle thankfulness and holy wonder.
As each day passes, I still find myself looking for the BIG miracles that I hope to see God enact and work in my own heart, in the lives of others, and in our world.
And yet, as I look at our sweet little girl, I can’t help but wonder if the BIG miracles that I am continually looking up and out for are actually right in front of me – just clothed in the small and ordinary things of the everyday.
Maybe we just miss them.
I think of Jesus; Immanuel, God With Us, the greatest miracle of all.
Wasn’t even He born in the most ordinary way into this world?
No trumpets, no fireworks – just the groaning pains of a laboring woman in the quiet of a manger because there was no room for them anywhere else.
And this same God-man who came that we might miraculously again have unity with the God who made us, who bore death for us that we might not have to taste separation with God any longer, and whose raising from the dead ushered in life to the full even in the here and now – didn’t even He get overlooked, accused of blasphemy, and killed with criminals?
And wasn’t it all because of the ordinariness of His life?
The people of Jesus day expected fireworks and trumpets. They expected a strong warrior. They anticipated an earth shattering arrival of their Messiah.
Yet He came wrapped in cloth.
And in cloth He was buried.
And from cloth He rose again.
But few were able to see the BIG miracle that was right in front of them.
Even when Jesus healed legs and eyes, or multiplied bread, still others were fixed upon their idea of what a miracle of God would look like, and they could not see.
They could not see that what they waited for and needed desperately was right in front of them.
Don’t we do the same?
If Jesus came the same way today as He did then, oh I pray that I would recognize Him.
But do we recognize the miracles that God enacts in our lives every day?
Do we see God working and hear Him speaking to us in the mundane and ordinary?
Or are we so fixed on our idea of what a BIG miracle should look like that we miss the ones that are right in front of us?
As Libby sleeps soundly in my arms, may I wonder at the miracle of each breath that she breathes and not forget the “Isaac miracle” that she is.
As I choose to trust in the Love of God instead of defaulting to fear and being anxious about many things, may I give thanks for the miracle of Christ working in me.
As I journey through difficulty and pain or travel a road that is full of joy, may I see the miracle of Christ WITH me in all things and the knowing of the sufficiency of His grace.
So you, who are awaiting a BIG miracle, waiting to see God show up in your life, might you ask Him to open your eyes to see what He is up to today? Your BIG miracle might be right in front of you, clothed in the ordinariness and likeness of our Saviour.
I pray you don’t miss Him.