After a busy couple of days of Christmas church singing, merrymaking, eating, and cleaning, I needed to clear my head, so I bundled up to walk in the sunny but frigid twenty-degree day. Podcast in my ears and eyes to the sky, I headed out. It was an icy, winding path, but the sun was warm as I breathed in fresh, crisp air. The podcast discussion kept my attention, and my jacket was toasty, so I stretched my walk, wandering farther from home, bumping up some streets I usually move on past.
While walking, I saw a perfect sky, worthy of a picture, with a daytime moon and some frothy clouds underneath, but my cold i-phone battery conked out under the pressure of simultaneous camera and podcast player. It was a good time to head home.
As I passed our neighborhood chapel, there was a man leaving the front doors, a box of books in his hands. He and his wife had donated hundreds of books about Jesus for the Christmas churchgoers, and he was still on the job distributing the good news. I had a great, encouraging conversation with him, and when another person left the chapel soon after, I found still more inspiration and support in a talk with him. Both men reflected the love of Jesus to me.
When I think about the roundabout route I took on today’s walk, and just the sheer implausibility of my choosing to walk on one of the coldest days we’ve seen so far this winter, it gives me pause. I believe I was supposed to connect with each of the two people I met today. It gives me great hope to know that God orchestrates meetings, offers encouragement and help, and that He does so in the smallest details of our lives. On the icy streets of my little town, I was literally living out Isaiah 30:21.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
As we walk through life, we make detours and shortcuts, or we can get a little lost, and sometimes it can seem like there’s no rhyme or reason to our path. As time goes on, I am more and more convinced of the truth of Proverbs 16:9
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
We are not alone. God is coordinating, orchestrating and working on our behalf, and doing so in the tiniest details of our lives. It seems to me the things that appear small to us might very well turn out to be of much bigger consequence than we could ever guess: right or left, go or stay, sit or walk, look down or up. As Beth Moore says, He is a God not only of time, but He is a God of timing.
We may wander, but we’re never lost. As I climbed the steps of my porch, I noted my nativity set by the door. Keeping it there was something new I tried this advent, and I loved the reminder whenever I left my house or came home, that our God is a God of hope in the waiting, of miraculous help to our broken human condition. Our God breaks through in the mess. And it’s the biggest grace I could have asked for this Christmas – I believe it. As I see the little baby Jesus there by the door, I’m reminded of the words from a Christmas hymn I just love.
The baby that all beheld, the same baby Mary held
is the same God who is holding us now.
Emmanuel. God with us. As it says in Psalm 121, He keeps our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Every day, at every door, on every walk, through every detour, He’s in it, working for the good. He is a God of great surprises. I can’t wait to see what’s around the bend.