“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
We live in an age of colliding man-made wonders and man-made atrocities and it’s easy to forget that God is with us – Immanuel.
I have a happy and contented life, with predictable ups and downs. I know God is with me, but sometimes I really don’t have a feeling of his presence. Sometimes I just go through the days and remember C.S. Lewis’s words about how God is pleased when a person “…looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
But sometimes God bursts into my ordinary life in the most mind-spinning way and shouts “Immanuel! Heeelllooo…?”
I was with my friend Sandy and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Emma. We usually go yardsaling together, but this day we had taken a mutual friend to the hospital for an appointment to prepare her for upcoming chemo. Our friend just had a double mastectomy.
As we were driving home, Emma must have been bewildered that we weren’t going to yard sales like we usually do. She said, “I have an idea. Let’s play a game. Whoever sees a yard sale sign…we’ll stop!”
We all cracked up. “Okay Emma,” we laughed, “We’ll look for yard sale signs. Tell us if you see one.” There weren’t many that day, but the sharp-eyed little girl suddenly spotted one. “Look Grammie! Over there!”
We were already past the sign, but Sandy turned the car around and we wound our way through the neighborhood to a God-ordained yard sale.
A mother and daughter were doing it. The daughter was a registered nurse and the mother was a three-year breast cancer survivor. Our friend had been looking for some pretty button-up shirts in her new size – and there they were, clean and beautiful and cheap! But she got more than that.
The lady was selling her wigs, and that initiated a lot of conversation about cancer and chemo. The lady was very vocal about her own vibrant recovery from breast cancer; and when she found out that our friend was approaching chemo, she completely embraced her.
They prayed together, and exchanged stories, and finally exchanged phone numbers. The yard sale lady now takes our friend to the hospital sometimes. She calls her and prays for her and has become a great support.
I think Immanuel gave Emma the idea of playing that yard sale game!
Then, a couple of weeks later, my friend Bev asked me to find her a copy of The Strong’s Concordance, since I have a book business.
As I was on my computer, in the process of looking for the book, my neighbor came over and knocked on my door. He told me he was cleaning out some shelves and he wondered if I could use this book, or sell it, or give it to one of the ladies who come to my bible study…
My neighbor isn’t a Christian, he doesn’t know Bev, and doesn’t know she was looking for the book — but he was holding out a beautiful, hard-bound Strong’s Concordance!
I think Immanuel told him to bring it over!
Finally, just this week Immanuel suggested I make pasta for the people in John’s department at work. I didn’t realize He was telling me to make it; John and I just wanted to do something fun and nice.
I made a couple of loaves of bread and a big pot of pasta shuta, and they had a yummy lunch. There was plenty left over, and John was going to put it away when a couple of volunteers came by, so he offered them lunch.
As he was serving them, BethAnn, one of the ladies from another department came downstairs to go to the little coffee shop in the courtyard. John says when BethAnn saw them her eyes got as big as saucers. “Oh my gosh!” she said, “I just told the ladies I was coming down to the coffee shop and asked if I could bring anybody anything and Susan said she had forgotten her lunch – would I bring her some pasta.”
It was a joke, of course. The coffee shop doesn’t serve pasta. But five minutes later BethAnn carried a plate of pasta back up to Susan.
This is what Susan posted later on Facebook: “Careful what you ask for. BethAnn asked us if we needed or wanted anything. I said ‘pasta please’ and look what she brought me! Yum!! On second thought, don’t be careful. Ask away! You never know what might happen! We have been talking about God showing off and He did it again!!”