He drove the same route every day.
The habit of turn right, left, then right again, forward to the three way stop, merge to the left pass three lights, make a left and then to the freeway was as much a part of him as the creases in his palms and the name on his driver’s license.
The same sign-holding panhandlers, the same school zone, the same line at Dutch Brother’s Coffee drive-thru, awaited each morning.
So how it caught his eye, that rectangular piece of paper laying in the gutter, he’ll never know.
I mean really, on a route that routine he rarely noticed anything: he was on morning auto-pilot.
But he saw it and thought, just maybe….
And the idea was enough for him make a set of three left turns instead of the final step of merging onto the freeway. Once the circle was made, he pulled into the nearest parking lot, hopped out of his car and walked to the place where the paper fluttered in the gutter.
A twenty dollar bill lay in the dust as traffic flew by in starts and stops.
He picked up the cash, folded it twice and put it into his pocket, glad and amazed at this morning routine surprise that turned out to be rewarding, too.
Keep Your Eyes Open
The workaday life with its ruts and grinds keeps us seeing the same route, the same walls in a landscape of predicability. We miss the miraculous in the mundane.
Do you wonder if your miracle-life is lacking, dull, less-than-shiny? The key to seeing miracles that surprise and delight may simply be this: keep your eyes open.
Our spiritual obtuseness comes not from lack of the miraculous in every day life nor is it due to some top-secret protocol of angels, it’s a basic reality of our tunneled vision created by our daily routines, our narrow expectations, our propensity to miss the forest for the trees.
The big miracles never fail to impress us like the baby born with a hole in his heart that heals without surgery, or the cancer cells that disappear, or the bundle of cash that mysteriously appears on your doorstep (boy, I’d like that miracle, wink-wink).
The Secret to Seeing the Unexpected – Look Backwards
I’ve found a secret to seeing the miraculous, merciful intervention of God in my daily life that helps me stay in wonder at his his goodness.
I work backward.
Every time I start right where I’m at and work backwards I see the results of the presence and working of God in my life. Sort of like those vision eye paintings that were wildly popular in the nineties. Remember those? If you stared long and hard enough, you could see the hidden picture. I’ll illustrate by sharing this mercy miracle.
A Backwards Mercy
I donated a set of twin beds to a needy mom on Friday evening.
I’ve never met her, but I know it was the right thing to do. Sure, I have to go buy a new mattress set and bed to replace the one we put in the moving truck, but I’m sure that that mommy with a brand new mastectomy and a two children with special needs who’s relocated to our town due to undisclosed circumstances needs that bed set more than we do.
The woman I met who organized this household goods drive just lives less than a mile away from me!
Last summer, when I was able to take daily walks, I passed by her home and place of ministry (www.fodblessings.com) to displaced young moms and their children every day.
She was on my route. But I never noticed her. Never knew I’d meet a soul-sister, prayer warrior, big-hearted woman of incredible faith just .9 miles from my own front door.
And who told me about this lady? My previous next-door-neighbor, who happened to be a member of a wonderful local group called the Joy Love Club, as am I.
I would never had met the founders of the Joy Love Club had I not agreed to go to a candle party with my friend, Tobi.
I would never had met Tobi had she never reached out to us after our accident. She may never have reached out to me had she not had a recent tragedy in her own life that compelled her toward helping us. But in her own personal pain, she and her husband had a sense that healing might come easier if they turned their focus on helping. So they did household tasks and cleaned and cooked us meals, and became our friends, while we lay with legs propped on pillows and began the slow process of mending.
And it brings me to the big surprise on the route of my life, to the accident that nearly killed me and could have destroyed our family. That fateful highway intersection is 27 miles from my driveway.
How many miles, months and unplanned right-turns might God use in his mercy miracles?
We never know.
But when we work backwards, it helps us make sense of the the events that occurred years ago and it helps us see purpose in the to-do list that lay on the table this morning.
It whispers the suggestion, “Keep your eyes open! You never know what today holds!” and directs our vision out of the ruts and gutters and toward the glittering rewards that sparkle with grace and promise and the constant goodness of our God.