A Christmas miracle

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just when you thought the news was too depressing to watch, a miraculous story of a little 3-year-old girl surviving a night alone in frigid temperatures grabs the headlines and tugs at your heart. The story of Hannah Yoder and her survival is being called a miracle by many, and I would have to agree with their assessment. Her story has elicited hundreds of comments on regional news sites across southwest Missouri, and many of these comments credit God with saving the young girl's life and keeping her unharmed until help in the form of a caring stranger arrived.

Search and rescue personnel who worked the scene described the weather conditions as the "worst possible" for someone lost outside without shelter or warm clothing. The fact that this young toddler made it through the night with minimal injury cannot be explained away any other way. It was nothing short of a miracle.

This just happened to be a "get-your-attention" kind of miracle. Nothing could explain the girl's lack of hypothermia or frostbite after 10 hours out in the elements beside a divine intervention. Whether angels sheltered the little girl's shivering body or God's spirit kept her warm, we'll never know but we can know that God remains actively involved in our lives if we'll just stop long enough to look for His presence.

Not all miracles are huge, headline-grabbing occasions. Instead most miracles happen quietly, but they're every bit as wonderful. Miracles come in the form of an encouraging phone call or letter from a dear friend or family member just when the recipient was ready to give up on his or her life. Sometimes miracles can be found in nature. There are days when I'm feeling really down and a little lost and I'll see a majestic 10-point buck standing in the field outside my house or catch a glimpse of a hawk soaring effortlessly in the sky. Those sights always boost my spirits, and if I'm paying attention, I take time right then and there to thank God for the extra encouragement that day.

One of the greatest miracles ever provided to us by God is celebrated during the Christmas season. Two thousand years ago, God chose a young, innocent girl named Mary to bring His son into the world so that we could find eternal peace with Him. Jesus lived in our world so that we would have the chance to get a good glimpse at "God with skin on" as I've often heard Jesus described. I know my life was forever changed when I met Jesus and began a close, intimate journey with God, and to me, that is the greatest miracle of my life. For once I found Jesus, I realized I didn't have to live another day alone. I discovered a huge, loving God who promised He would never leave me or forsake me, and in the years since, I have leaned on His promises and found them rock solid.

So this week, celebrate the miracle of 3-year-old Hannah Yoder but also don't miss the miracle of the Christmas season. Take time to really focus on the Christmas story. It's not some fanciful tale but the beginning of God's love story for us. Christ was born so that we all could have life. Now that's a miracle worth rejoicing as you and your loved ones gather together to celebrate the holidays.