God is personal. That's not just a catechism answer anymore. I first got excited that God was personal when my brother handed me a book at the airport in Paris in the early 1970s with the title The God Who Is There. Of course, even a cosmic force of a god can be "there," but I knew what Francis Schaeffer meant right away. It was what I had been looking for all my life, though I didn't know it.
Last week, just before a retreat, I was in a hotel in Minneapolis and had a very bad night. Every insecurity I ever knew reported for duty---I had no right to speak to women who were better than I, who had raised their children well, and loved their husbands well, and who knew more books. Satan even threw in insecurities about my body, for good measure (though that seems superfluous, since varicose veins have nothing to do with public speaking).
I spent most of the night awake, during which I alternated between praying and being paralyzed with fear. Did I mention that the retreat theme was "Fear not, for I am with you"?
When dawn broke I decided to take a walk. You must picture that my hotel was situated among a string of warehouses, a zone in which trees were deemed unhelpful protrusions slated for destruction. You must also understand, for the purposes of this post, that when I am back here in Pennsylvania, the Lord sends me cardinals when I need them; it is our secret wink.
I made my way across the parking lot and heard a familiar sound crack the 8 a.m. quiet: "Suueet! Suueet! Suueet! Suueet! Suueet!" I looked up in the direction of the sound, and there was a mating-red cardinal high in a tree. I knew what God was singing through it: "It's OK. I still love you."
Do you know that the table centerpieces at the retreat luncheon were glass vases into which lovely smooth stones had been laid, with nesting birds resting on the mouths of the vases? And then I looked at the programs each woman carried into the assembly, and their covers featured a drawing of a bluebird set to escape the mouth of a cave. The bluebird perched on the words "You Are Mine. Do You Believe It?"
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