Timing is everything, you know?
On my return from a walk the other day, I came into the house via our garage. I noticed cardboard boxes I had saved for unneeded household items. It was a bit of a ho-hum day. Because there was nothing specific on my agenda that morning, I decided to make good on my commitment to purge. “There’s no time like the present,” I told myself. With that, I grabbed a box and headed upstairs to tackle the overflowing bookcases in our study. After confirming which books my husband wanted to keep and to discard, I tried to do the same for myself.
I looked lovingly upon numerous novels, my books on death, dying and the afterlife, inspirational books which Mike and our sons have given me over the years, my senior year high school yearbook, my favorite children’s books and an old catechism. Where would I begin?
As I scanned the inspirational books, each one touched me as it had on the day I received it. Tears crept down my cheeks as I tucked them back onto their shelf. When I picked up my high school yearbook, I wondered how long had it been since I read the messages scrawled on its pages. “Stay as great and sincere as you are… A.C.T. was special because of you, but remember to slow down once in a while… Thanks for handling Sister Syra so well. You got us through Special Chorus… To a great kid… May your positive social deviance continue to change the world…” I recognized my own handwriting when I read, “My mom.” I wrote this above the familiar woman pictured with several other parents who attended College Night that year. My mom’s striking features stood out almost as poignantly as her determination that all of her children would graduate college one day. Memories of pride and loss rushed in as I slid my yearbook back onto its shelf.
I had spent two hours with my books when I picked up that old catechism. I would have disposed of it quickly if a holy card sticking out of it hadn’t piqued my interest. It marked the chapter entitled GRACE. We were taught that grace is God’s very life within us. I looked at the array of books before me and prayed, “Lord, your grace has flowed through every one of them.” My novels renew my empathy for my fellow humans. My books on death, dying and the hereafter sustain my hope. Those children’s books feed my imagination and strengthen my bond with our granddaughters. The inspirational books from Mike and the boys remind me that I am loved. My classmates’ and teachers’ messages in that yearbook hinted at the encouragement I have received throughout my lifetime.
I had to ask, “Lord, have I thanked you recently for the amazing people who have supported me along the way?” I placed the catechism back on the shelf with the rest of my books and added, “Thank you, Lord, for taking care of me. I didn’t put a single book into that box because you continue to touch me through them, especially today. As always, your timing is impeccable.” This ho-hum day was a gift!
Though that cardboard box remains empty, I found what I needed to fill this page. Matthew’s gospel (14:22-33) reminds us that God’s timing is impeccable as God’s grace always comes when we require it. This passage begins just after the disciples fed the crowd with the bread and fish which Jesus blessed. Afterward, Jesus went off to be alone. John the Baptist had been murdered, and Jesus had not yet had the time to mourn his cousin. At the same time, the disciples set out on their boat. Within minutes, a terrible storm engulfed them. They had just experienced another of Jesus’ miracles, yet Jesus was the farthest thing from their minds. As the perilous storm threatened, Jesus set aside his own needs once again and came to their rescue. Jesus walked across the raging waters. However, rather than celebrating Jesus’ intervention, the disciples screamed in fear. They thought Jesus was a ghost. Only Peter, who relied on his heart more than his head, recognized the Lord. Peter immediately asked to walk the waters to meet him. Peter stepped amidst the waves and almost made it to Jesus. However, when he realized what he was doing, Peter focused upon the roaring wind rather than on his Lord and he began to sink. Only when Peter turned back to Jesus and reached for Jesus’ hand was he finally safe.
Peter’s moment of grace is much like the moments of grace I contemplated as I perused my bookshelf the other day. Though the times God has intervened for me have not always been as fierce as a raging storm, God has intervened just the same. As was the case for the disciples, God offers a hand with impeccable timing to you and me. God provides moments of safety and moments of grace precisely when they are needed.
©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved