I vaguely remember a story told by a woman on a Christian radio program. She told the story about years before when she began to identify a certain animal with God’s love. The special sign for her, I believe, was a cardinal. I don’t remember exactly how she came to this place, but she told the story of seeing the cardinal over and over during tough times and feeling like it was put in her view just for her. Her stories were a little bit … out of the ordinary as I remember. It seems as though she saw her cardinal in an odd place or an odd time and she was so moved by the sighting. And this began to happen over and over. Truly, I don’t remember all the details
I do remember that she encouraged the listeners to pick an animal and associate it with God’s love.
Let that animal be the one that would prompt us to remember that He loves us.
Well … what a great idea, right?
I mean … we all want to be reminded that we’re loved, right?
I decided that didn’t want to choose something common
like …. a certain kind of dog or bird.
I wanted to KNOW when God spoke to me.
I needed to KNOW that a SIGN from Him was a real sign.
You know? Like make the fleece soppy, drippy wet and the ground dry.
No. Wait! Wait! Wait! God … make the fleece dry and the ground soppy, drippy, muddy wet. (Judges 6:36-37)
So, for my animal, I chose a manatee.
Yeah. I know. I don’t live near the ocean and never really have.
And the oceans near me don’t really have manatees.
And manatees aren’t really popular in paintings and home decor
… the way owls or ladybugs or birds or bees are.
I was helping God out. I wanted to help Him to make this super obvious.
… ’cause you know …. how God needs our “help,” right?
And I’m pretty sure
in the 15+ years between the time that I assigned God my chosen “animal sign,”
I’ve seen one or two manatees a year.
And even when I SWAM with manatees in Florida a few years ago,
I didn’t feel overwhelmed with God’s love.
Oh, I was excited and thrilled … but it wasn’t a
“God loves you” kind of overwhelmed.
It was more of a
“Oh, my goodness! God, you’re so cool! Thanks for letting me experience this!” kind of overwhelmed.
In reality, I’ve never felt overwhelmed with God’s love when I’ve seen a manatee
in an advertisement, painting, decor or image of any kind.
I have just thought … “Oh. There it is! Would you look at that! A manatee!
That’s supposed to remind me that “God loves me.”
It’s never felt any different from seeing a stop sign, or a cloud or a bowl of cereal.
In other words, seeing a manatee has always felt common. ordinary. every day.
And if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that God’s love is not common.
And I’ve known when He speaks to me
and when He comforts me
and when He convicts me.
His communication and presence are n.e.v.e.r common.
This morning, as I was crossing a lone parking lot
with nary any cars
just cracked asphalt and worn, painted parking lines
with the wind blowing winter in strong … bold and brazen and blustery
and the cold cutting right through my cotton dress snapping and flapping like a flag ….
I saw this leafand tears welled up in my eyes.
Because I was reminded that God loves me.
He will never leave me or forsake me.
He walks with me and reminds me to breathe.
He gives me peace to rest at night.
He guides me along my way.
He is my provision.
I remembered the manatee
and how seldom I have seen one.
And I thought about how often I see a lone leaf
forlorn on the ground
sometimes matted to the ground by rain
sometimes crushed into the cement by passersby ….
but … with a beautiful shape and design created by Him
with His purpose in mind
and right in my path.
I love trees. I love sticks. and I love leaves.
I often think of Him when I see them.
And when I think of Him and all of this beauty,
I am reminded that He loves me.
And He sees me.
In my helping God by letting Him know that I would remember He loves me when I see a manatee
I was undercutting His magnificence
by ignoring that He has assigned my sign from Him.
My sign from Him
is a single leaf
laying alone on the ground
right in my path.
Yes, a single leaf makes me remember I am loved
and brings me great joy.
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?