There are miracles we don’t likely notice. Things like the power of touch, the tenderness of time, the healing found in connection, the beauty of kindness.
I remember as a kid longing to be swept up and held, wishing my dad would hug me and tell me he loved me.
Hugs are amazing things.
Words are powerful things.
My soul is hungry to celebrate all that is divine in the daily – all that Jesus offered and still offers, all that we offer when we simply yield to the miracle of love we are given through Him.
My soul is hungry to celebrate the miracles we don’t likely notice.
Today, I’m considering the stories of three people who stumbled through grace rather than boldly proclaim it as their own. Nicodemus, Peter, and Thomas. I feel a bond to each of them.
I called myself a ChristStumbler for years. I have never been an easy-walking follower.
Nicodemus asked hard questions of Jesus about what it meant to be born again. He walked away from that conversation without so much as a nod or a “Thank You, Jesus, I’m ready to be a follower!” When Jesus is on trial, Nicodemus doesn’t defend Him or stand by His side. Instead, he offers a shaky reminder to his peers to simply be mindful of all the laws.
Peter was quick to proclaim his loyalty to Jesus—and just as quick to question everything. He questioned Jesus’ ability to save him in the midst of storms, wondered if Jesus really knew what He was doing when He was confronted by enemies, and offered up a resigned “where else would we go?” when Jesus asked if the disciples wanted to walk away. And the story of Peter’s literal, vocal denial of knowing Jesus rings as loudly as the silence-shattering crow of a rooster.
And Thomas? Thomas was at least gut-level honest about his wondering. He followed cautiously, questioned often, and told Jesus, “I’m not like the others—I need more evidence to believe.”
Jesus’ response to all of them is a picture of the slow miracle of love wrapped in the slow miracle of time – the same slow miracle that fills our days. There is no tapping on a watch face or a grimaced, “Now or never.” No. Jesus takes His time. Jesus gives His time. Jesus transforms time into treasure.
Jesus doesn’t walk away from Peter. Instead, He cooks breakfast for him and says, “I love you – and you will change the world.” Jesus doesn’t walk away from Thomas. Instead, He says, “Here are the scars. Here is the evidence. I love you – and I understand the doubts.”
And Nicodemus? Well, the story of this miracle is a little more subtle in the Bible. But it’s there, just waiting for us.
It’s found as Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross.
A benevolent man named Joseph offers a new tomb for a decent burial, something not provided normally to those deemed deplorable enough for execution by crucifixion. He waits for the soldiers to remove the lifeless body from the cross, and takes a deep breath as he considers the path he will take to carry Christ. Only one person offer to help.
After all this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple who kept his faith a secret for fear of the Jewish officials, made a request to Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate granted his request, and Joseph retrieved the body. Nicodemus, who first came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness, brought over 100 pounds of myrrh and ointments for His burial. Together, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in linens soaked in essential oils and spices, according to Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)
The same Nicodemus who queried and stewed and did nothing now clings to the One who offered His hand all along.
That gives hope to those of us who stumble through grace, who question and wonder and doubt.
That’s what I love about the stories. No now or never. Just the slow miracle of love wrapped in the slow miracle of time.