…with that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… Luke 24:31
When it comes to the Bible, many people tend to think of it in terms of someone writing things down as they were happening, when in fact it was written mostly from hindsight. It is a collection of stories written down after the fact, after deep and sometimes long reflection.
It is as if the writer is saying, “Come to think of it, God was there all the time!”
I am certainly not the overly pious type, but it occurred to be the other day that when I have taken the time to look back and reflect on what I have been through, it becomes obvious that God has been guiding me even though I was most often not aware of it at the time.
My practice of journaling, and reading back over entries months and years later, is usually the occasion of this realization.
One of the strongest realizations that I keep coming to is the fact that when there is a major breakdown in my life, it is usually followed by a major breakthrough. In other words, from hindsight, it seems that when God seemed most absent, God was most active.
It has happened too many times to be a mere coincidence. Reading back through those journals, I can say that I have experienced many small miracles. I find myself saying constantly, “Come to think of it, God was there all the time!”
The major times in my life when this has happened include when I took my first unwanted assignment as a priest; when I was given a full scholarship for a doctor of ministry degree; when I agreed to give up my wonderful little parish in Calvary, Ky.; when a wall of the Cathedral of the Assumption cracked; and when I got the chance to publish my first book.
It happened when I was asked to do my first parish mission; when I was invited to work in campus ministry at Bellarmine University; when I started the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates at St. Meinrad Seminary; when I was given the chance to write a column for The Record; when I was invited to lead my first priest convocation; when I retired from St. Meinrad Seminary; and when I made my first mission trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I expect it to keep on happening.
All of those events involved a breakdown before a breakthrough. Looking back, I can say with certainty that God was involved all the time. It was not magic, of course. God invited, but I had to respond with a “yes” or a “no.”
If this pattern continues, I am assuming that when the biggest breakdown of all comes, death, it will be followed by the biggest breakthrough of all, entry into the kingdom of God. I am certainly trying to believe so. I am starting to believe that all those little breakdowns and breakthroughs were only practice runs for the big breakthrough.