The other day, I was making a little video with Flash, my rescue donkey. Tom had the camera, and I stood in the backyard with the sometimes-uncooperative donkey and tried to say my lines.
Flash was a good sport. He hung in there with me through several takes (the carrots in my pocket helped) and generally looked cute for the camera. But after awhile, he gave up on my ability to get the words right, and instead became interested in munching on the green grass at our feet.
"Aaaand, that's a wrap!" Tom pronounced. We'd have to make do with the footage we had. I ruffled Flash's shaggy coat and had to laugh.
This donkey and I have been on quite a journey together.
I remembered back to when Flash arrived. I'll never forget how it was one of the lowest points in my life. Our business was struggling, despite working as hard as we could to keep it going. The stress was almost unbearable, and it put a strain on our marriage and our family life. I couldn't keep up with the constant juggle of work, kids, chores, and activities. I was distracted and forgetful. (Well, I'm still distracted and forgetful, but let's not go there.)
On the night Flash showed up, Tom and I had driven home from a dismal mural project in complete silence. The tension in the air made me press my forehead against the window and sigh. I was too tired to pray for help.
Just then, Tom hit the brakes.
There, in the headlights, stood a stray donkey.
He was right in the middle of our driveway.
Now, we did not need a donkey to complicate things. We did not need another mouth to feed. We did not need to have run-ins with the sheriff's department and cranky neighbors. We did not need to be startled at all hours by loud braying.
But we did need a miracle.
And you know what? I've learned that miracles don't always look like miracles.
Sometimes, they look like shaggy donkeys with gigantic ears, buck teeth and and strong opinions.
I've thought about all the times I've prayed for miracles and felt disappointed when all I got was a donkey for an answer. I'm speaking metaphorically here, but I think you know what I mean.
Flash didn't solve our financial need. He didn't write a scripture reference with his hoof in the dirt that would answer my questions. He didn't magically help me remember to buy toilet paper at Walmart.
But what he did do was remind me that God hadn't forgotten about me. Flash reminded me that God was still in the business of speaking to people. People like me. People like you.
Flash illustrated wisdom.
His happy little life out there in the pasture became a lesson-book for this tired, stressed out, working mom. I started jotting down the things I observed, and I found that his examples mirrored things I was learning in scripture. Things like, how to survive during drought. Boy, were we ever in a drought! And how to follow my passion. How to serve others. How to make things right with people. How to be a true friend. How to find refuge in God alone.
It was the wisdom I needed to survive.
Sometimes, miracles look like lessons in wisdom.
Sometimes, they look like mistakes that you learn from.
Sometimes, they look like inconvenient interruptions.
Sometimes, they look like difficulties.
Sometimes, the miracle you're seeking is standing in the middle of your driveway on a cold dark night. It might have big ears and eat a lot of hay.
But the thing about miracles is, you've got to stop and make room for them. Let them in. Embrace the unknown, the unusual, the unexpected. Look hard for what God is doing, because He is up to something. He is always working, always moving, always pulling you toward Him. This is what my miracle-donkey taught me.
So, how do you recognize a miracle?
Well. Usually, it's in hindsight.
I think we miss most of the miracles that happen because we are looking for something glittery and shiny to occur. We expect angelic choirs and great beams of light, and we miss the simple moments that are happening right before our eyes. We don't hear wisdom calling from the street corners because we are too busy telling God how He should run things. At least that's my experience.
Oh, if we could only see, truly see, the miracles around us! The people in our path, the detours, the plans that fall through, the jobs that feel unfulfilling, the children who tug on our sleeves, the neighbor who brings soup, the note in the mailbox. Yes, I know God does big, amazing things, and we should never stop believing for them, but I think we simply forget that He's in the little details, too. Like those daily graces we talked about this week.
Often, it's when we look back that we recognize the miracles we didn't see when they were in front of us.
Because sometimes our miracles have big ears, and we weren't expecting that.
Have you recognized a miracle - in hindsight? Have you found God works in unexpected ways? I'd love for you to share in the comments today!
Learn more about Flash the Donkey's upcoming book.