When I was 12, we lived in the country on the outskirts of itty bitty tiny town Odessa, Missouri. We didn’t even have a McDonalds or a Walmart! My grade school friend’s mom was the dental hygienist at our dentist office, it was that small of a town. One night, we met my dad at the high school where they were presenting my softball team’s season trophies. After the fun we all went back to our cars to leave. My parents were in separate vehicles. While my mom took my sister and brother home, my dad and I went to Sonic, which was the only fast food around, and then stopped by a café to bring home a pie for my mom. We drove down our long, dusty gravel driveway and up to the house. When we got inside, we talked to my mom for a few minutes as she nursed my baby brother. That was when my dad asked my mom the words I will never forget. “So, where is my little man?” My mom looked confused and laughed, “Isn’t he with you? You’re playing around. He is in the car sleeping, isn’t he…?” My dad suddenly looked horrified. “Absolutely not!” he said, as he spun on his heels and bolted out the front door. It took a second to hit me. We had lost my two year old brother. I ran to my room and found my 10 year old sister and I told her we had to pray immediately! We begged God to help us find Caleb. I was terrified that we’d never see him again.
He’d been by himself for two hours with no adult. This was deadly serious! There were terrible dangers all around him. I kept thinking about the road just off the parking lot, and all the strangers around, and even the six feet tall corn fields that went on for miles. As we prayed, I knew all us were throwing all of our hopes in the ‘God basket’. We had no other place to turn. I remember my mom calling the police, explaining the situation, then yelling, “Yes! Yes, that’s him! He has a baby brother named Jeremiah!”
The story is, that Caleb had told my Dad he was going to ride with my mom and told my mom he was riding with me and my dad. We were parked side by side in the parking lot, and just a little ways away was a very cool-looking playground set with a tunnel. At two years old Caleb basically thought he’d spotted an amusement park, and he ran over and climbed into the tunnel. By the time he came out, everyone was gone. He’d crawled back in and cried until the superintendent of our school heard him crying and went over to find a lost two year old. He called the police. Every time they asked Caleb what his name was, he would only respond, “My baby brother, Jeremiah.” Long story short, my parents got to thank the superintendent of the school for more than the elementary education of their children.
I tried to think back as far as I could to the clearest memory I had of a miracle. I really believe that it was a miracle that Caleb was kept safe. He could have been hit by a car, taken by a super freak, wandered into miles of cornfields towering more than three feet over his cowlicky hair, or spent a very cold night in a playground tunnel. God was watching out for Caleb long before we even realized he was missing. He’d been kept safe, and then found by a trustworthy adult. I can’t imagine what life would be like without him. He is my ‘more cautious brother’ and we joke that his tendency to have anxiety was caused by this exact event. The truth is, all of us look at this event in our family as a miracle.
For each believer, there will be a point when they realize that God cares about them individually. We can be taught and choose to believe, but that won’t get us to the finish line. Our faith has to be tried and stand on its own two feet. I realized at one point, that if my faith hadn’t been tried in the fire, I myself wouldn’t even know if I truly believed. I can’t tell you how many times I have believed something that had yet to be tested. For instance, in my young kid years, I thought it was a good idea to run at someone holding a huge yoga ball. I envisioned it causing the other person…my poor unsuspecting sister, to fly backwards. Not totally thinking through the kinetics, I quickly found that both of us would fly backwards. Theory plus testing equals fact or fiction, right?
Belief means something totally different when we take our faith and add it to who we are individually, and it results in something that can only be chalked up to a miracle. My favorite personal miracles are the ones that come together in amazing ways that can’t be explained by our human knowledge. I don’t mean to sound selfish, but there is something unfathomable about the God of all the universe, the One who formed the stars…caring about me specifically. It’s magnificent.
Several years ago a very close friend was deployed across the world. At four a.m. I was jolted awake by intense pain and what felt like a huge blow to the upper left part of my chest. It was so sudden and painful, it shot me into a sitting position, clutching my chest as all my air was forced out. My husband, who was dressing for work, stopped dead in his tracks and asked me if I was okay. I had no idea how to explain to him what I knew, literally in my gut. I knew our friend had been hurt, probably shot in the chest. I actually told my husband exactly that. It took me awhile to catch my breath. I prayed like crazy in the coming hours and then for a week after that. I knew he could only call us by satellite phone, so all I could do was wait. A week later I got a call from this friend. He sounded okay, but I had to ask. “Um, are you okay?” He said he was fine. I then asked, “Do you have um…any owies?” He paused and said he was fine again. “This may sound completely crazy, but last week… “I told him the day and time and what happened.” Silence on the other end. After about a minute, I realized he was crying. I asked him if he’d been shot in the upper left side of his chest. He asked, “How did you know that? How can this happen?” I said, “It can’t. It can’t happen on its own. It was God.” He had been shot in his plate carrier in the upper left side of his chest, at exactly the same time, on the other side of the world, when I had been jarred awake. God knew both of us so individually, and God knew every detail of what was happening for both of us on two different sides of the world, and for a moment He connected us on a deep and profound level. There is no scientific explanation for it. In my book that equals a miracle. If you want proof, I will insert a photo of his body armor. There is a bullet hole where the strap is pulled away, on the upper left side of his chest.
So faith plus us individually, equals an individual unique miracle that is so detailed, seemingly impossible, and plain to us, that in our mind we know it is a miracle. That is really the beginning of recognizing that God cares about each one of us individually. That is incredible in itself; it is a miracle. Billions of souls created since the beginning of time, and He cares about little tiny me, living in this day and age and doing what I’m doing and who I’m connected to, how I affect others, and how that fits into the enormous master plan He has laid out since the beginning of time.
I have had so many moments in my life that could have been overlooked as good fortune, if I’d not chosen to recognize them for what they really were. Faith is such a choice. We choose to let go of our belief or hold on tight when we face terrible trial. We either believe that God is dropping the ball when it comes to our life, or that His goodness will become evident at a later time and we just have to keep trusting. I wish I could tell you that my friend has a strong belief in God now, but as far as I know, he doesn’t. He still doesn’t understand how this happened, but he hasn’t chosen to let it fuel faith. For me, this was one of the most profound demonstrations of God’s power in my life. I choose to acknowledge why it happened. God was telling me that He has all power and all control, and all knowledge. I need to stop worrying, because it’s all in His hands. You see, I’d been anxious and praying to God for my friend’s safe return home. God was granting me something profound that gave me so much peace afterward. My friend was in God’s hands. I believe He was also giving my friend an opportunity to see His power and to choose faith.
If being a Christian meant we got to be hugely successful, have great health, and get everything we want, then why did Jesus have to endure so much? He was Christ. He had it pretty rough. He held no ‘CEO’ earthly position with a corner office. No yacht, no house, no wife and kids. I do think that He would drive a Lamborghini though…wink wink nudge nudge…get it? LAMBorghini? Okay okay…you get what I’m saying. Faith has to endure through the mud and muck, the fire, and the depth of the sea, or it is all for nothing and fails when tested.
I sometimes forget this endurance factor, and I set my goals to overcome my current trials. I then envision smooth sailing from there on out. That just isn’t the way it works. When these trials are over, new ones will come. Our entire life is the trial of our faith. When the trials are over, so is life. It’s a race of endurance to the end. We have moments of exhaustion and burnout and rest and then moments of invigoration and a second wind. Even Jesus experienced these moments. No matter what phase of this marathon we are in, it will change. We are not hopeless, because we have a God of miracles. He has everything within His power. This is the same God who sent His only begotten son for us. He will give us every opportunity to come to Him. He wants us to succeed because He loves every single one of us.
I can’t think of anything that means more to me than the fact that He cares and He wants me. Hallelujah! I pray you feel the love of your Father in Heaven rush over you today. I pray you feel His hand on you and whatever you face. I pray that you have reassurance today that He knows your name, your need, and how many hairs are on your head. All glory and thanks be to our God and Father in Heaven. Hallelujah!
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”