My half birthday was Tuesday. I turned 23 ½, which is a new personal best. My roommate gave me a little pumpkin spice cheese cake and a card made out of half an index card because in the time she’s known me, she’s learned I love all things pumpkin spice, food, and celebrating half birthdays. She’s also learned a lot more than that since she lives with me, but that’s another blog post for another time.
Later that night, another friend texted while I was sitting in bed, writing a paper, and eating club crackers because fixing dinner just seemed too involved for the Half-Birthday Queen. But then my friend mentioned that she wanted to buy me a half-birthday coffee, so I rolled out of bed and moved the study session to the coffee shop.
I also got a voice message from my littlest sister, who sang happy half-birthday to me. It was a great day.
Some people think celebrating half birthdays are ridiculous. Some just kind of tilt their head and look at me when I tell them I’m a big fan of it. And then some get really excited and figure out when their half birthday will be and it’s fun.
But I love celebrating half birthdays. Actually, I just love celebrating. I like noticing life’s details. I enjoy random situations and awkward moments (mostly…) and stuff it’s sometimes too easy to overlook. It doesn’t take much to get me excited.
Several years ago, I heard someone say to look for God in the details. He’s not just found in big, obvious miracles; He’s also found in the minuscule. When you need a glimpse of glory, you don’t need to look very far.
That wisdom clicked inside of me, and it slowly started changing my perspective. I started truly seeing God in life’s details and finding joy in the little things.
Honestly, though, sometimes I miss this. Sometimes stress and busyness and schedules cloud my vision and I just want God to do something super obvious. Like plop a burning bush in the middle of my bedroom. Except not really, because of the carpet. But you know what I mean.
If you’ve been around me recently, you probably know I recently had a rough week.
A couple Tuesdays ago, I slid into my seat, all ready for my 8:00 AM Hermeneutics class. Or as ready as one can be for a class that early.
I took a sip of my coffee (necessary), and pulled my laptop out of my bookbag. Something wasn’t right. It kept trying to restart, but never quite made it all the way to the home screen, no matter how many times I tried to turn it off and on.
After class, a friend who knows stuff about technology looked at it for me, ran some diagnostics, and handed it back to me. Bummer. So then after the chapel service I took it to the IT department on campus and read a book while they tried to crack the mystery. They were stumped too, so I went back to my apartment, grabbed my laptop charger, took it to IT, and said goodbye to my laptop while they worked on it some more.
I found out two days later that the hard drive was fried. That is the last thing a writer and seminary student wants to hear. So I ordered a new hard drive, which came in the mail the following Monday. They installed it, and I picked my computer up Wednesday, eight days after my computer’s freak-out session.
Throughout all of this, I had no idea if my files would be saved. I had pieces of a book I was working on, lots and lots of pictures, school assignments, and study notes for a test I had Tuesday. The thought of losing all of that made my stomach hurt.
In the middle of all of this, I’d received some really discouraging news. I’d also been dealing with some other really tough life stuff. It all seemed to spiral out of control at the same time.
But through all of it, people were praying for me, sending me Scripture, offering encouragement, and not running away when talking about something as ridiculous as a computer made me choke up.
One night, a friend texted me, telling me she had a surprise she was bringing me. She showed up with cookies.
Another friend, whom I hadn’t talked to in a few weeks, texted me encouragement and told me she’d been praying for me for a while. My roommate graciously let me use her computer while she was at work. Other friends offered to loan me their laptops if I needed them, and I received messages from people back home who were praying for me.
Basically, I was surrounded by people who cared. People who genuinely wanted to make sure I wasn’t about to lose it (because that wouldn’t be good for anybody).
It was a hard week. Really hard. But you know what? God showed off in the middle of all of it. He spoke. Not audibly, but softly, through His people. Through their kind words and their desire to listen and their tender hearts.
I saw God in the details. In the caring faces of my friends, in the autumn leaves that just happened to be breathtakingly beautiful, and in Scripture.
Sometimes we get so caught up in looking for His hand that we miss His fingerprints.
Earlier this week, I met up with a friend for coffee and we just talked heart stuff. She said, “So I want to hear about what you’ve been dealing with,” and we dove in. God was in the middle of that. I also had some friends gather at my place for dinner to just laugh and relax and talk about whatever girls in their early 20s talk about (so basically, everything). God was there, too.
His smile is warm. His heart is kind. And He loves His children. He’s felt especially gentle recently. Especially near and especially present. Maybe because circumstances have actually made me spend more time with Him; talking to Him and being in His presence and noticing traces of His grace.
Small things. They’re worth paying attention to. And I think God delights in inhabiting the small, the quiet, the unexpected.
Remember Elijah in the Old Testament? That time when he was on the mountain, waiting for God?
Check this out:
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)
Catch that? The Lord wasn’t in the visible, obvious elements. He was in a gentle whisper. A soft breath. He came in such a way that Elijah had to be seeking the Lord to hear Him.
What about the Savior Himself? The King of the universe confined Himself to the fragile body of a baby. He grew, slowly and softly, inside the frame of a faithful young girl. He was born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough.
Everyone was looking for a conquering king, a mighty warrior, a ruler who would command an army and wipe out the darkness. And yet, the Son of God whimpered and yawned and blinked big, innocent eyes. The Creator of the world was swaddled in strips of cloth and rocked to sleep among cattle.
Some rescue plan, huh? And yet think of who Jesus grew to be. Think of His sacrifice. Think of that gory plan of glorious redemption that was poured out on the cross so we could be reunited with our Lord.
He came small. He came in a way people could’ve easily overlooked if they hadn’t paid attention. And many of them did overlook it. Many still overlook it.
So celebrate the details. Seek Him and find Him in the everyday, the seemingly ordinary, the unexpected. Pause and inhale and be reminded of His love and His presence in the small.
I think you’ll love what you find.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13