It was my birthday last week and once again I felt the burden of expectation weighing heavily on my shoulders. After all it’s a special day, which means the bar is set unrealistically high and disappointments which would ordinarily be brushed aside are amplified to resemble Armageddon. This year was no different. The day began inauspiciously with a heavy downpour, followed swiftly by my elderly mother bowing out of the family lunch and my sister unexpectedly stranded miles away. It seemed the gods were against me.
However, it was my mother’s absence I felt most acutely because as an octogenarian, I’m conscious that every birthday she spends with us may be her last. Nonetheless, I was determined to salvage the day and so we set off with the boys for a leisurely walk and impromptu lunch. Leaving the car behind proved to be pure genius, because it facilitated the opportunity for spontaneous conversations and there was much gaiety and laughter. For once the boys (who are now young adults), didn’t complain about having to walk and a marvellous joie de vivre infected us all. The merriment and revelry continued over lunch as we scrambled for group selfies and howled with laughter as we swapped stories about past family disasters when the best laid plans had come to ruin.
Later, as I reflected on the day’s events, the words “sunrise, sunset”, popped into my head and I knew they were a message from God. It was only God who knew the hidden sadness I carried at the prospect of (one day) losing my mother and how this drove me to continuously create precious memories. But God wanted me to create a different memory. Rather than have me cling to the past, God wanted me to see the future. The word sunrise symbolised new beginnings and the joy that lay ahead with the boys, whilst the word sunset represented the inevitable closing of a chapter. This was indeed a beautifully spiritual perspective but what made it poignant, was that God had gone to the trouble of orchestrating a comforting forecast without solicitation.
This is the way God works. He doesn’t wait for us to ask for help. He doesn’t need an invitation. He knows what we need when we need it and jumps right in. Think about it. If you knew your child was in trouble, would you wait for him or her to ask for help or would you dive right in? God is no different. For years, I was told that if I needed God’s help, I had to petition Him in a particular way, at a particular time etc. but experience taught me that God doesn’t stand on ceremony and is open all hours to everyone. We may not realise it, but there’s an invisible force at play in our lives which goes about its business without fanfare. What we may think are happy coincidences are in fact the carefully co-ordinated interventions of a loving Creator.
Take a moment today and reflect on a time when you were wrestling with a difficulty which suddenly resolved itself. That wasn’t a coincidence. That was God. It’s important to acknowledge this because when we know (as opposed to hope), there’s an unseen force fighting our corner, we’re not intimidated by life. We all need powerful ammunition for the battles that lie ahead and I take comfort from the fact that God’s got my back. Who’s got yours?