Moments when we almost tangibly feel God’s presence with us are gifts. It doesn’t happen often, but in those moments I try to remember exactly what was happening, where I was, and what I was thinking. One of the best remedies for seasons of darkness or doubt for me have been remembering those moments.
I was recently reminded of one when home in Indiana for Christmas. Francisco and I were driving along a snowy, partly country road in the early afternoon and enjoying the scenery. We were looking out into the snow-covered pine woods when the car started to swerve from the snow over ice on the open road. After a few seconds of sliding, the car was back in the middle of the lane, and other than being a little shaken, we and the car were fine, still separate from all the other cars.
The incident reminded me of a similar situation when I was in high school, but the outcome had not been as simple. I was driving home on a road just like the one at Christmas when my car caught ice, turned 180 degrees, and slid down onto the side of the road. I remember my dad graciously coming to pull my car back up onto the road with his truck, but the moment I remember most is what happened immediately before calling my dad. I had sat for a moment, a little shocked at what had just occurred, but thankful that my car and I were unharmed. I had reached into the back seat to pull my phone out of my purse to call my dad for help and noticed a text message from a friend who was all the way in Minnesota. All it said was, “Praying for you right now!” I hadn’t heard from this friend in a couple months, and in that moment I felt sure of God’s presence with me. I knew then and know now that he is present with me at all times, but that moment of acute awareness and deep sense of gratitude for his protection were almost tangible.
In the verse above, which is part of the Christmas story, there was wonder and excitement at the arrival of Jesus and of far-away visitors, and I’ve always imagined that Mary mentally filed away those moments of presence in the same way that we are able to today. My prayer this year for all of us is that we are able to recognize the wonder of God’s presence around us and that we would be strengthened and encouraged by pondering those moments in our hearts.