God communicates hope in unexpected ways

Written by Cindy Palin

I still remember my first powerful encounter with the wonder of God and His creation. I was swinging on our backyard swingset on the farm as a child. God’s invisible presence could be felt. All that surrounded me—the ocean of clouds, the carpet of grass, and the forest of birch—seemed to sing His praises. Somehow I knew God had made them, and He had done so just for me.

As Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

I believe biblical wonder is always followed by hope. For example, God rescued the Israelites from bondage through many signs and wonders, and they were filled with the hope of a new life with Him. The signs and wonders Christ performed and His ultimate final life sacrifice to save us from bondage give us eternal hope and life with Him.

But I wasn’t thinking of wonder and hope as I sat in a dimly lit hallway one winter night, years after that childhood experience. Our eldest daughter had been diagnosed with epilepsy. Our youngest child was on a nebulizer, which helped administer a Ventolin mist to keep her airways open. I sat in the hall so I could listen to their breathing, ready to jump at the first sign of distress.

As my ears tuned into every sound, my hand swished a paintbrush back and forth on an old paint can. My mother always said I could never sit still and do nothing. She was right. I squinted, all hunched over as I attempted a southwestern design on what was to be a Christmas present for my mother’s new husband.

Hosting a stranger in our home at Christmas shouldn’t have been a chore, but I was tired and vulnerable, and we did not have a manger to stuff him in. Suddenly, I was distracted by an unusually bright light streaming from the livingroom window. The streetlight seemed to pulse, and in the glow I could see the most unusual ginormous snowflakes. I was filled with wonder.

I knew the sign outside the window was my oldest and most faithful friend, trying to divert my attention.

I forgot the suffocating challenges surrounding our little family and arose to take a closer look. Each flake was so magnificent. Instinctively, I turned and sat down on my piano bench. With my left foot, I locked the soft pedal in place. Words of wonder and praise whispered from my lips and made their way onto a scrap piece of paper.

Everything that once defined my winter and threatened to paralyze my soul—my parent’s divorce, no more family Christmases on the farm, our children’s illnesses—were momentarily washed away by God’s presence and those white fluffy miracles.

Later, when I revisited my late-night worship song entitled “One More Miracle,” I learned of another person who was touched by the wonder of God through His gift of snow.

Wilson Bentley was the first person to photograph snowflakes in January of 1885. He photographed over five thousand snowflakes in his lifetime, finding no two alike. As I read about him and soaked in every one of his photographs, the wonder of God and His designs washed over me again.

Today, I’m filled with gratitude to God for our children’s clean bill of health. After her experiences with seizures, my eldest daughter has pursued a career in nursing. My youngest daughter has become a courageous missionary after years of constrained breathing and fear. Other challenges arise, heartbreak has knocked on our door numerous times, but nothing subtracts from who God is and what He does to reach us.

After learning about Bentley’s work, I purchased a children’s book about his life and a large volume of his photographs. Along with the Christmas story in the book of Luke, I review them every winter when the streetlight’s glow illuminates a fresh offering of God’s wonder and hope.

Find “One More Miracle” on Cindy’s album, Christmas Hope.