I have a very specific memory that comes from the Thanksgiving of my sixth year. In that memory, I recall my dad driving down East Grant Street after departing from Grandma and Grandpa Lamb’s house in Greentown, Indiana. The sky was grey and wholly overcast. It was not yet Thanksgiving Day, but it was that week. And for some reason beyond my ken, that is my permanent notion of Thanksgiving ever since. It is strange because it is not just the images of that memory that have remained with me, but a sense of awareness of something just beyond sensory experience, but noticeably real, nonetheless. This memory has a feeling associated with it that some might say is just nostalgia, but I’m not sure. That Thanksgiving occurred in my first-grade year, and it was not our customary Thanksgiving. In fact, we did something at Thanksgiving-time we’d never done before or after during my childhood. We went on a trip.
It seems odd to me that the simple act of driving down a street we frequently drove should have made such an impression upon me. You see, that was the year my aunt and uncle were preparing to leave to go to Africa as missionaries and we travelled to Pennsylvania to see them before they departed. I remember riding in the back of our powder blue Fiat as dad drove through blustery winter weather on the way to Pennsylvania. I remember seeing one of the buildings at the mission training center. It was called a mansion, and it was more like an apartment building because of its size and number of rooms. But none of that became my quintessential notion of Thanksgiving. Instead, the most forceful thing was an otherwise mediocre drive down a street that might not even be a mile long.
This leads me to ponder how we store and catalogue memories of spiritual encounters with God. We tend to focus in on the earth-shaking, mountain-top, and incredible as being moments of greatest importance. And some of those certainly can be very important, but I suspect that more great and important things happen in those quiet and seeming mundane events indistinguishable from each other in the camouflage of their ordinariness. In some quiet moment, when we are going through the habits of our day, I think it just may be true that God speaks and works incredibly significant things in us. Sometimes we may catch a shadowed whisper of something greater than the moment, yet we cannot name or adequately describe it. Still, we sense that God passed surely, but quietly through.
What it was that God worked in us we may not realize, but something has been changed. Whatever it is marks us and plays out subliminally for the rest of our lives. And, just perhaps, on some quiet day many years later our mind will recall that memory impression and we’ll meet again with the fingerprints of God left on our souls when we were otherwise occupied. We may not be able to tell or describe even then what God did, but again we have the sense that God did something, and it was ineffably good even though expressing it still escapes us.
Now, all those years later, as I write this, I am thinking, “How many of those subtle imprints of God-touches are there distributed in my life, and have I ever expressed true thankfulness for them?” This Thanksgiving, I’m going to celebrate with thankfulness all of God’s quiet works and I invite you to consider doing the same.
Contact Pastor Lamb at leadpastor@ imlaycityamazinggrace.org