I'm writing this the week before Christmas, and I wanted to share a story that has touched my heart this week. It began a few weeks ago when my 10-year old son Ben lost a tooth. He's lost a few in his life, so this was just another chance to earn a buck or two, not a big deal. He's at that age though where he's begun to be suspicious about the Tooth Fairy and whether or not there is a real one, or if mom and dad somehow involved in a vast conspiracy. So the first night, he put the tooth in a plastic bag, and held onto it tightly all night. Of course, this meant that the Tooth Fairy couldn't get it from him. The second night, it was tucked back deep into the middle of his high loft bed, hidden somewhere closer to the wall, where apparently the Tooth Fairy still couldn't find it. After we remembered that in the past he had always put his lost teeth in a tooth fairy pillow (I strongly recommend one), he awoke the third day to find his tooth gone and a dollar in its place.
I'm not sure how he reflected on those three days, or what it made him think about the Tooth Fairy, but it led to his actions this week after my daughter Hayden lost her first tooth. Unfortunately for her, the tooth came out while she was walking through the hallway at school, and she dropped it, losing it. She climbed into the car after school, tears streaming down her face, scared that the Tooth Fairy wasn't going to come visit her because she lost the lost tooth. Ben witnessed this scene and the two of them hatched a plan for how to convince the Tooth Fairy to come. With his help, she drafted a letter and drew as beautiful a picture as she could to convince the Tooth Fairy that she really did lose her tooth, and that she hoped it wouldn't be held against her that she lost it at school. She put the letter in her pillow and went to bed, hopeful, yet anxious about what might happen.
My son however, did not go to bed so easily. In fact, he was still awake a good hour and a half after bed time, as he came out to talk to us at least two times. I wasn't sure what he was worried about, but we found out soon enough. Once he had fallen asleep, Joy went into the kids room to check on Hayden's letter and pillow. In place of the letter, she found a dollar wadded up and placed there. I didn't put it there, and she hadn't put it there. For a moment, we felt a little magic of the evening as we thought about the different reasons why a dollar had shown up in her pillow. Then I looked down into her garbage can and saw the wadded up letter, thrown away to hide the evidence of what happened. Our son had put his previously gifted dollar into the pillow, worried that the picky Tooth Fairy might not show up and bless Hayden. He hadn't wanted to leave her disappointed in the magic of this mythological creature, so he gave his own gift to make sure she felt the blessings of this rite of passage. Of course, when she awoke the next morning, there were two dollars in her pillow. Hayden was absolutely blissful about this discovery, which was twice as much as her brother had received just a few weeks earlier. Ben was left perplexed, especially after he couldn't find the wadded up letter in the garbage.
I think that often we forget the mystery of God's work in the world. We neglect to see the ways that God is providing for us, watching over us, and working to lead us towards flourishing. Our lack of faith can lead us to hold tightly to our problems, deep into the night, instead of giving them over to God and trusting in God's provision. Our faith can sink into the corners, where we don't let God work on our hearts in ways that guide us and reassure us. But as we enter a new year, I want to encourage you to consider that, perhaps the best way to experience the magic of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, is to find ways to be the Holy Spirit to others. When we are witnesses to the life of Christ, and demonstrate compassion and sacrifice towards others, we begin to see how God works in the world through our own hands. We begin to see how our discipleship becomes the way God reveals grace and love to the world. Ultimately, it leads us back to feeling God in our lives more as our relationships are strengthened and the world is made better around us. This is God's wisdom at work. My son reminded me that his faith was strengthened when he gave of himself. Ours can be too.
Isaiah 57:15 proclaims, "The one who is high and lifted up, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says: I live on high, in holiness, and also with the crushed and the lowly, reviving the spirit of the lowly, reviving the heart of those who have been crushed." God wants to revive the hearts of the lowly, as God resides in the hearts of the lowly. Let God take on our pain and our troubles, and replace them with God's blessings and God grace. During this new year, seek ways to give that hope to others, and you'll feel it come back double. As you do, appreciate the mystery of God as Christ works in your heart. Amen.