Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When has the Holy Spirit 'called' you? or I Witnessed a Miracle and All I got was These 'Angry Birds' Pajama Bottoms!

When has the Holy Spirit ‘called’ you?

Recently I went up to bed one night, got into my Angry Bird pajama bottoms, turned out the light, climbed in next to my wife (and our two year old daughter, a now-regular fixture by the time I go to bed) and I reached to my bedpost for my rosary beads. As I held onto them and put my fingers on the cross, I started whispering the Apostle’s Creed slowly…

“I believe in God…” something doesn’t feel quite right…

“The Father, The Almighty…” this cross feels thin…

“Creator of Heaven and Earth…” and FLAT, it feels flat…

“And I believe in Jesus Christ…” Jesus! Jesus is missing!!!

Thus began the few glorious days in which I thought a miracle had occurred in my bedroom. You see, the corpus was missing from the cross. He was Risen! I leaped from bed and turned on the light. I started searching on the floor near a spot where I had remembered it hitting the bed frame a couple of nights before. It wasn't there. I searched all over the bedroom floor and could not find the body of Christ on the light colored carpet. Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that he had been resurrected and I went to bed.

A few days later (three days? I don't remember, should have counted.) I found it behind the bed, and realized then that no, a miracle did not occur in my bedroom. But in that few days it forced me to think of something.

Why not me?

I mean, let's face it, I did not really believe that a tiny resurrection had happened to the crucifix on my rosary. After all, who am I that a miracle (even a tiny one) would happen to me?
I am no great, holy man. I am certainly not a saint, nor even a great theological thinker. What made me think that I was so special that this tiny sign was brought on to me? These thoughts accentuated something I've been thinking about during Lent. I guess it was kind of my Lenten fast, although I must admit I haven't been as successful as I would like. I have been trying to believe in myself as a worthy creation of God.

You see, I have a good friend who has been helping me to look at some things lately and one of the recurring themes is that for some reason, I don't find myself very deserving. Not deserving of respect, not deserving of success, not deserving of much at all; let alone miracles.

When I first realized it, I tried to trace back to when I started to feel that way and for the life of me, I have no idea. There was no great trauma, no tribulation or disappointment or rejection that led to it. It just happened. One day I woke up and I just didn't feel like I was worth much. Now, before this comes off as some sort of pity-party (if it isn't too late already), I realize that I have had accomplishments in my life. I have a loving family, an amazing and patient wife and two of the most beautiful daughters ever, and no, I am NOT biased.

Well, as Lent began this year, I figured I was going to kick that attitude right out the door. To paraphrase Stuart Smalley of Saturday Night Live fame, “No more stinkin' thinkin'!”. No more self-deprecating humor. No more being down on myself or thinking there is anything I can't do! “I can do anything!”, I thought. I am made in the image and likeness of God. He knitted me together in my mother's womb. He has plans for me; plans to prosper me and not to harm me; plans for hope and a future.

And as I built myself up with these thoughts, I started to think of times when the Holy Spirit HAD called me. Like when I met my wife and swore that it was going to be my last match.com date for a while. I was right! There were so many signs calling me back. Some small things, some really big.

I had an inexplicable desire to bring my kids up in the faith, even at a time when I had lost my faith, and before I even had any kids. Around that same time, I had friends who wanted to see the 'Passion of the Christ'. It was the night before my first black belt test and even though I had neglected my relationship with Jesus, I teared up at the movie. That night, I came close to realizing the power of what He had done for me.

This past fall, I went on a men's retreat. We were talking about our 'brushes' with the Holy Spirit and I recalled one of the most powerful calls I had; a call which, again, went nearly unnoticed at the time.

A long time ago, I went to a short seminar on hypnotic past life regression. I'm not sure that was exactly how it was worded, but you get the idea. The leader guided us through this meditation, taking us from a peaceful place on Earth, up into space, and then coming back to our home planet. The first thing we 'saw' was supposedly a glimpse of our past life. I remember, in my mind's eye, I saw my feet wearing sandals on a dirt road and thought I was going to be a Samurai. I was pretty stoked! But then, on the road just above me, there was a crowd and they were taunting a man who I could just 'sense' (this kinda stuff has a lot of 'sensing') was innocent. They were dragging him off to be punished. As the leader gently coaxed us out of our trance, I thought, “Wow, maybe I was at the crucifixion. Maybe I was an apostle.”

Well, I'm not really into the past life, new age, hypnotic stuff now. But as I sat at the retreat house that weekend, I realized that God could very well have planted that vision as one of many subtle calls to bring me back to Him.

There have been other, much less subtle calls. I hesitate to mention them here lest I be carried off in a jacket with the sleeves in the back, but He is there. And for some reason, He really wanted me back. So it's kind of silly to think myself not worthy of miracles. It's a miracle that I was here to turn forty last year. It's a miracle that I have been able to accomplish some of the things I've done. My marriage, my daughters, all miracles. And it's a miracle that I went through such a dark period of separating myself from God only to have him come calling me back.

So what Lent has taught me so far this year (and don't you, dear reader, think for a minute that I think this applies only to me) is that, if God thinks we are important enough to knit us together in our mothers' wombs, breathe life into us through the Holy Spirit, make us in His image and come down to walk among us, suffering and dying for our sins, then we have no right to insult His creation by putting ourselves down and considering ourselves unworthy of any good thing!

Yes, even tiny, little miracles.