I could tell a lot of stories about God showing up in big ways. How the terrible suffering of the cross turned out to be the hope of the world. How, in my own life, God turned the tragedy of losing a parent into opportunities I never could have imagined or asked for. How, around the world, I have seen sickness healed and hearts mended.
But today, I want to tell a quieter story. Because life often happens this way: almost imperceptibly turning lovely.
The longer I was there, the more desperately I wanted God to come and turn things around.
Early one morning, before the sun was up, I went to the temple to walk and pray. The usual crowd was there: monks in their maroon robes, pilgrims clothed in white, and everyone hushed in meditation. I circled the stupa, trying to find words for the deep hunger in my spirit. Finally, I began to pray simply that God would bring his presence, and that the temple would become a dwelling place for him, if even for a moment.
In my life up to that point, I'd been taught to pray for needs specifically. Heal this person. Save that person. But in that moment, I just wanted God to be there. With me. With us.
The really crazy thing is that he came.
I was walking past the prayer wheels, still in darkness, when all of a sudden the sun rose. Light broke over the temple. The birds awoke in their trees and starting chirping loudly. Within minutes of praying, the whole place literally went from darkness to light, silence to singing. And my heart was burning with joy and satisfaction, knowing that my God was there and had answered me.
This Lent, instead of giving up chocolate or coffee, I felt the Lord ask me simply to remember his presence each day. To sit and be joyful in it, knowing that he's closer than I can imagine. To remember that at the end of the story, he will turn all suffering and hardship into blessing.
I guess, in a way, I'm giving up loneliness and hopelessness, even in their smallest amounts. Because even missionaries need be retaught the ABCs of God sometimes. Because even we get scared when the darkness comes. Because we are still waiting for God to make all things right.
But praise God for his infinite light, for his peaceful and mighty presence.
Even in our waiting, he is already there.
May you see him beside you,