I spent the last day of 2020 with eighteen mannequins and a very small man. Staring across the sea of mannequin torsos, towards the gaping exit door of our brick suite where shadows exited but never entered, I noted that my ending up in this room was nothing less than a miracle. If you knew Old Me, you understand what I mean.
Old Me was held under lock and key by some wicked crooks, but I didn’t know it at the time. My heart was alive and hope-filled, but it could only escape the imprisonment of my unseen taskmasters on rare occasions. These unseen taskmasters threatened me–they said that if I did not avoid embarrassment, physical danger, emotional risk, solo adventures and unpredictable situations, there would be hell to pay. If I entered any of these situations, as my heart always begged me to do, my taskmasters screamed lies into my mind. I had no tools to shut them up. Sometimes I could push aside the lies enough to accomplish what my heart wanted to. But usually, I took hold of one of the lies my taskmaster was shouting, and used that lie against my own heart. I trampled my own heart into the ditch, for years, until Jesus set me free.
But on that last day of 2020, my heart no longer lived in the ditch. It was very active, following yet another thrilling yet illogical marching order from heaven that I’d received hardly twenty-four hours earlier: “Go to the life support class on a back alley, on the east side of town.”
I’d never been to this back alley, so I called for directions. “Park in the only lot you’ll find on ______ Street. There are many entrances to the building, but use the first one you see.”
Parking in said lot, I noticed two things: an iced tea cut-out, far larger than life, and a handful of families sailing forth from the building with white plastic store bags. I ducked my head into every corner of the dingy discount store, but gained nothing but suspicious stares. From behind tall barricades, a clerk helped me. “The office you want is on the next level, off the sidewalk.”
I walked the empty sidewalk, saw an entrance with the business logo I was looking for, and tried it. Locked. The next entrance advertised many businesses, and was wide open. There was not a soul to be heard, and only the hall lights were lit, but I was determined to find my class. Like a rat in a maze, I zig-zagged from the B Suites hall, to the C Suites hall, to the D Suites hall. Logically, G Suites, the ones I needed, would be next, but I had come to the final blank wall. End of maze, no prize.
Weaving back to the start of the soundless maze, I called again for directions. That other door on the sidewalk was now unlocked, and I entered, five minutes late. “Are you expecting a large class today?” I asked the small, fidgety instructor. My eyes were scanning the eighteen mannequins–nine limbless torsos and nine naked infants–which were spaced around a blue conference table. “Three total, but you’re the only one who has found me,” he replied, with a bit of agitation. “Well, let’s begin!”
And so, for two hours, I received one-on-one emergency medical instruction. Just the class I needed, just for me, and the determination not to miss it. These gifts are a miracle, and miracles are what you live out when your heart is set free by the great I Am!
2020 was far from what I anticipated, but let’s talk about some more of the miracles it held, and save the losses for another time! Remember, miracles are your destiny when your life has been set free!
Four weeks of blooms in a barren land—-not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God, who said to a penniless wilderness girl, “Go for it, you will thrive! Go for it! Go for it! Go for it!” When your heart can accept a reckless word like this and act on it, you know your life has been set free! Four weeks of desert moons, exquisite people and undeserved favor. Miraculous!
“Jesus, you are the protector.” This is easier to pray over myself, by far. There are few news stories headlining crimes against giraffe-scale thirty-somethings, but there are plenty of headlines featuring crimes against small, beautiful minors. Reality check: control kills beauty. Fear breeds control, and both fear and control are ruthless killers. “Jesus, you are the protector,” over and over again, and then the wilderness adventures could begin. Joy is a free side-dish when Jesus is in control. Miraculous joy!
Miraculous is the only way to describe how I experienced covid. I collapsed onto a pristine, private lake beach, hand-picked by Jesus himself, and there I stayed, weaker than I’ve been in a long time. The germs baked out of me through the rays of an unconcerned sun, and lake waves gently lapped away the heat. Pine wind sang life in the morning and driftwood fires sparked life at night. Strength to row back home across the waves was my recovery test. Fear always speaks lies, you know. Fear never warned me that being sick could also be beautiful, and infused with outrageous love—-that’s the kind of reality only irrational heaven-truth would speak.
Miraculous is the only way to explain how Jesus taught me how to share grace this year. Stemming grapes and making peanut butter sandwiches, I saw the dark places in my own heart, through the eyes of my new friends. I saw the dark places in my own heart as I juggled boxes of my possessions, one move after another. I learned, from my 62-hours of listening to Anna Karenina while disinfecting door handles, that people display negative responses towards people when they are dissatisfied with themselves. So then I was able to begin observing how I respond to people when I am dissatisfied with myself. I learned how to forgive in new ways–both myself, and others. The thing about living in the miraculous heritage you belong to, is that your school of choice is always inside of you. You’ll never be transferred to Zoom when the Holy Spirit is your professor! A year of miraculous heart-learning. What a gift!
And time fails to tell of all my beautiful new friends, or of all the new learning, or the stunning wilderness adventures, or the mind-blowing victories in unseen places, or of how I became Gretchen Winklefartz for a short and spicy season.
Truth be told, friends, no matter what comes in this visible world, you can always expect adventurous and joy-filled miracles to surround the King’s family. People can steal and damage everything in this visible world, but they can’t steal what is unseen!