Theology in the Trenches

Mary’s Miracle (Part 3)
Friday, June 14, 2019
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Kathleen Kjolhaug

Religion Columnist

Mary’s world was rocked by the death of her son, Abel, to an aggressive form of leukemia. At the age of 19, within the span of months, he died. Despite her pleas of desperation with the Lord, He chose to take Abel home. Now Mary’s world lay broken and her heart shattered into a million pieces. Through a series of little miracles, she finds herself at a four day retreat where she was less than thrilled to be in attendance.)

Mary’s recollection of what went down during those four days:

Day 1: Silent retreat time…Mary was not a fan.

Day 2: Song ushered in the light of day. The theme and music chosen months ago through prayer and supplication was beginning to stir within Mary. It was subtle, but she was attentive. “Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place” was sung in unison and soon, her tears freely flowed. “This was the song sung as we made our way into church behind Abel’s casket! The very casket held not only Abel, but love hand written from one who would now never finish growing up with his older brother.” But one song was just one song…or was it? She wondered.

That evening as she returned to her room, an envelope lay in wait upon her pillow. Gently opening it, the gift of butterfly fluttered out. Like the wings of the butterfly before her, Mary’s heart began to open. You see, her sponsors gave her this gift of hope, but Mary saw it differently. “Compassionate Friends” had held her hand since Abel died and this was the symbol of that group. Her sponsors knew nothing of what this symbolized to Mary and even though the stirrings within continued to grow, she was still not ready to admit that it was anything but coincidental.

Day 3: As Mary sat with one of the pastors at the retreat, she could no longer hold back. “Maybe prayer works for other people, but it hasn’t worked for me,” she sobbed. “I’ve prayed for several things throughout my lifetime and each time it never turned out the way I’d hoped. Now, I’m not sure I even believe!” There, she said it! Right out out in the open it was, and she had no regrets whatsoever!

Somehow she made her way back to the gathering for the final talk that evening, and as she entered, was handed a slip of paper with her name upon it. Isaiah 43 was in bold letters across the top and this time, as she read it, something broke within. “But now…He who created you, Mary, He who formed you, Mary…I have redeemed you, Mary; I have summoned you, Mary…I will be with you, Mary…Since you, Mary, are precious…I will bring your children, Mary…everyone who is called by name, Mary, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made…”

How can that be? She trembled. This is the very verse that hung over the baptismal font when Abel was baptized! This was the same verse that hung over his casket as he was laid to rest!

Then, the pastor spoke, “Remember who you are!” As his words bolted from his lips, her chin jolted up and her heart was fully opened to receiving all that was before her. On display was nothing short of His holiness as those were the very words she used to speak into each of her children before leaving the house. Now, those words were being spoken to her…spoken by another who knew not the miracle of words he was proclaiming over her. But Mary did. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, God’s presence truly was in this place.

That same evening, an angel pin was gifted her and once again it was from her sponsors who’d purchased it weeks before. Unbeknownst to them, it was the exact replica of a pin she’d received as a gift at Abel’s funeral but it had been lost along the journey!

Day 4: The final wall which had been encasing Mary’s heart broke as the last song was sung for the retreat weekend. The words “Shine Jesus Shine” sent her forth. Little did those who had prepared this weekend know that this, too, had been sung as the recessional at Abel’s final church service upon this earth.

In Mary’s words, “I had experienced the funeral of Abel from the beginning to end throughout this whole weekend, but this time…I received it in the Light of grace!”

And now you, too, know Mary’s miracle.

I wish I could give you a website that would help you learn more about Mary’s story, but I can’t. You see, Mary shared this as a gift. She’s a mama just like you and just like me. Her only desire is for you to tuck it away within your own heart to better see the miracles He is writing across the lines of your own story. Those lines began vertically and horizontally as He penned Himself in red.

Before this weekend of healing, Mary had only one desire. “I want my heart to be softened. It has become so very hard!” she spoke. Beth, her sister, concurred that indeed this would be a good prayer and where two or more are gathered, there He is…and was…and will forever be.

Back in Ez. 36:26 He promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” As He did for Mary, He will do for you.

Watch for the miracles. Amen.

( Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)