I am intrigued by the technology that uses fingerprints to give us entry to our private files. Passwords make me crazy! Not only is it difficult to make up and remember different ones for different sites, I know that a savvy techie could break in, hack my passwords, and literally steal my online identity. So the uniqueness of my fingerprint gives me security. It represents me, states that I am present, and gives me peace of mind as I declare, “Yes It’s me!”
So it is with God’s ‘fingerprint”. There are times when I feel God’s unmistakable Presence, when I know God has something to say to me. There is a predictable pattern to these events. Over the years, I’ve learned that when I slow down and pay attention, there usually are very tangible lessons in these epiphanies. Incidentally, I don’t ever hear an audible “God voice” nor do I experience a theophany (for the theologs out there), but always the experience brings some new perspective or awareness to my current situation…and I am aware again of God’s unmistakable Presence, of God’s fingerprint. Today was one such event.
Let me preface the story with a bit of background. Parkinson’s has been more virulent in recent months, and my patience is growing shorter as it becomes more and more difficult to do even the simplest of tasks. Gone are the days when I could go from sleeping to waking, dressing, eating (all those morning things we do without thinking) and dash out the door less than an hour after rolling out of bed! The entire process now takes at least two hours!! Of course, feeling the pressure of running late, of needing to hurry…well, that makes everything take even longer! There are times when the frustration comes tumbling out (usually with incoherent screams or throwing the offending item), and I am reduced to childhood again as I have to think through every step. When is the last time you had to think about how to turn your hand to brush your teeth or struggled to remember how to tie your shoes. I could do that at age 4…
The loss of my voice has been most difficult. Some days I can’t even manage to form some of the most basic sounds we make in English! Managing to articulate words while also thinking about how to breath and engage the vocal mechanism….well, let’s just say it’s getting easier and easier to avoid crowds, and stay home rather than dealing with the exhaustion of having to think so hard and the constant struggle to be heard, the fight to be an active part of a conversation. Suffice it to say, there are days when I feel as if I am becoming invisible, fading from society. At times I lose sight of what it felt like to be a leader and teacher. I took public speaking and preaching for granted. In fact, I took everything for granted.
So yes, my attitude has been less than stellar in recent months. I admit it! My anger and frustration have been almost suffocating as I thought I was getting lost….losing myself..inexorably…permanently…
Enter present day Reality. During morning worship, we were remembering Jesus’ baptism. Our pastors reminded us that this event happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. That was significant because Jesus’ unique identity was affirmed by God himself who spoke (audibly according to the Biblical account), stating in no uncertain terms that Jesus was His son, and that was very pleasing indeed to the God of the universe. As we were each encouraged to remember our own Baptisms, several things hit me: first, just as we are much more than the houses in which we live, so I am much more than this body in which I live! My identity as God’s child was established at age 6 and the only thing that has changed in that regard is I have grown deeper in my understanding of Who God is and who God calls me to be! The thread of God’s interactions with me weaves throughout my life. For more than 60 years I have understood “God in the midst”, as close as the air I breathe, as Present as I can comprehend. Having a progressive illness does NOT mean God has abandoned me! Rather, it demands a deeper trust, a more open mind, willingness to laugh, and patience!
For me, today, this affirmation was “sealed” with the final hymn. All during morning worship, I was flashing back to childhood, to formative years when I was just beginning to experience God. There was a club of sorts for girls at our church, Girls’ Auxiliary (GA’s), that I loved being a part of. Our watchword was “Arise! Shine! For thy light has come!” Those words were embedded in my soul. Today, the final hymn was…you guessed it… ”Arise, Thy Light has Come”.
That, to me, is God’s fingerprint – a confluence of things, or the positioning of events, statements, etc. in such way that it could not possibly be coincidence. And in the lessons of this day, I believe I’ve found the answer to one of my most urgent questions: How did my friends, David and Diane, handle the MSA that destroyed his body and stole retirement years from them? Why was he not raging with the losses? David surely must also have realized that he was much more than the body, which gave out too quickly for any of us to accept. Pastor David, with all the frailties that plague human existence, lived above them, showing us, even in death, the Presence of a loving God who calls us by name, Who identifies us as God’s own children, Who leaves fingerprints there for us to discover.
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