The truth is that God does not always move in the way I expect God to move. This sudden certainty sunk into my being like the Titanic into the bitterly cold ice water of the North Atlantic, slow and painful, magnificent and forceful. I mean really, everyone, everyone, thought the Titanic would be unsinkable. They were so convinced of this that, when they did hit that criminal iceberg, the people, every single one I’m sure, was wide-eyed and unbelieving. BUT, and that’s a big but, does not mean that God wasn’t present amid that tragedy.
And I felt precisely like all those wide-eyed, panicky passengers on Wednesday because I pictured Wednesday to turn out precisely as I pictured it. Not surprisingly, I was completely dumbfounded when it did not. I was completely hurt when God didn’t act as I wanted God to act. I did not know how to react. So I bumbled around. I felt sorry for myself. I cried.
Happy Wednesday to me.
It was all supposed to be very utopian and very perfect – my two favorite things that really do not exist here on this often foul (yet paradoxically stunning) planet that is polluted with sin. Polluted with evil. Polluted with oil and plastic bags and rusty tin cans. It tends to be dirty here, not as spotless as I so often coerce it to be in my mind’s eye. Just call me Pollyanna, I suppose.
Here is how I imagined Wednesday, infamously know as MRI day, to be:
- I would wake up and enjoy a mug of coffee topped off with enough cream to resemble a glass of milk.
- With my steaming mug of creamy coffee I would wander to my bedroom and read my Bible and get in tune with Holy Spirit, still in my pajamas of course, and prepare for the day ahead.
- Mother Theresa and I would zoom to Winnipeg to enjoy a relaxed day in Oma’s cozy oatmeal colored, tea scented condo before heading off to the hospital.
- Upon arriving at the hospital, I would have a divine meeting that was completely and utterly otherworldly that would make my MRI a breeze.
- My MRI would be quick (a mere 45 minutes in the big machine!) and God would reveal himself in such new and exciting ways that I would forget completely that I was in that miserable, wailing machine.
Here is how Wednesday really unfolded:
- I woke up and enjoyed a mug of coffee topped off with enough cream to resemble a glass of milk. Oh imagination, you’ve done good for yourself.
- I took my steaming mug of exceptionally creamy coffee to my bedroom and cozied onto my carefully crafted nest of blankets and pillows, readying my heart for Holy Spirit. And Holy Spirit showed up, indeed. As I opened my book it popped out at me, bold and beautiful:
“Your tendency upon awakening is to assess the difficulties ahead of you, measuring them against your average strength. This is an exercise in unreality. I know what each of your days will contain and I empower you accordingly… Look to Me for all that you need, and watch to see what I will do. As your day, so shall your strength be.”
(from Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, p. 330)
And instantly, I put God in this box. I put the Almighty in a cardboard box and closed the lid. “Now work,” I said, with good intentions, of course.
- Mother Theresa and I drove to Winnipeg but it was as if dark, gray cloud loomed over my head. I was looking for God. I was watching – but nothing BIG was happening. We arrived at Oma’s and the walls were still oatmeal colored and the condo still smelled like tea (and pizza). And it was good. But I felt swiss cheese holes of emptiness in me because it was just good, it wasn’t magnificent.
- When we arrived at the hospital, my mood was sour but I held on to the hope that the God that I carried in a little cardboard box was going to move in the way I imagined. Come on divine appointment, I am ready for you! But get this: The hospital was wholly deserted, save for the lady in the wheelchair at the door and the cleaning man with his mop. I was early for the MRI so I ambled around the maze that is the hospital looking, searching for God somewhere. And all I saw was a father pushing his disabled grown daughter in a wheelchair as she hummed songs and called out for him between verses. I hate to admit it, but I felt ripped off. Then I saw another dad sitting beside his two children in a twin stroller, his eyes red-rimmed from tears. I need encouragement, I screamed inwardly, not all these heartbreaking stories. I went into the public washroom, leaned against the wall and sunk into my emotions. God, I said, today I don’t particularly like my story.
- I had to wait to get into an MRI. I sat in the sterile waiting room with Momma T, a Mother and her two disabled sons who watched as she blew bubbles made of gum for them and two men who spoke a language I didn’t understand. I then found out my test would be in the tiny machine: Now, instead of being stuck in what seemed like a cramped tunnel slide for 45 minutes, I was to be stuffed into a piece of PVC piping for 2 hours. Excellent. As the table glided choppily into the tube and the magnets began whirring and banging, beeping and screaming, I waited for God to finally show up. The MRI was tedious and I began to think about how fragile I would be if I was ever tortured – I think I would say just about anything to escape. And then it felt like I got hit with a brick in the chest. Not because of my claustrophobia this time, but because of the sudden realization that Christ died on a cross, one of the most brutal deaths, completely alone and in agonizing pain. And here I was, simply uncomfortable, soothed by the light streaming in each end of the tube and the accented voice of the technician every 3 minutes. There was still hope for me.
I left the hospital feeling disappointed, sad, a little bit dizzy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how I had seen God a million times on Wednesday in the tiniest, littlest, most unexpected ways and completely disregarded it because it wasn’t grandiose enough for me. What an ungrateful child I am.
But I close my eyes and picture Jesus pushing me down the halls of the empty hospital in my wheelchair of humanness, helping me with what I need, moving me to where I need to be. I picture Jesus with pink crying eyes like the father by the stroller, gently stroking my head when I don’t like my story and showing up anyway even when I don’t see his actions all that clearly. I imagine Jesus as the mother in the waiting room blowing bubbles for me to keep me occupied, making a smile spread wide across my face.
“Look to Me for all that you need, and watch to see what I will do,” Jesus says, reaching out his hand to me.
The truth is that God does not always move in the way I expect God to move. This sudden certainty sunk into my being like the Titanic into the bitterly cold ice water of the North Atlantic, slow and painful, magnificent and forceful. My Wednesday did not turn out how I had imagined it would, but God was still moving, still acting, still loving in ways subtle and beautiful and sweet.