Author's Note: This chapter is a continuation of the conversation between Grandma and Emi from the previous chapter. To remind you of what has just happened, Grandma has just told Emi the story of how she re-dedicated her life to Jesus. Grandma also shared that even though she couldn't understand what God was doing in her past, she could look back now and see how God had used it all for her good and for His glory; all her pain had purpose. I now invite you to sit back and enjoy chapter 7 of A Turn of Events! Enjoy!
Grandma and I both sat in silence for a moment. Grandma then smiled and looked over at me, “There is one more thing you should know, Emi.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“God is answering your prayers, even if you can’t see it. When I was a young girl, who had just lost her mama, I prayed endlessly for God to get me out of my situation and make things ‘normal’ again. I prayed for peace and joy, and I too wondered why God allowed my little brothers to endure such suffering at such a young age.
Here is the lesson God showed me years later, Emi, when I could look back and see all the good that had happened because of all my suffering: God does not allow bad things to happen to us because He is a bad God. God allows bad things to happen to us because He is a good and loving God. He is a loving God who desires to use the hard situations in life to remind us that even when life’s circumstances are out of our control, they are not out of His control. Hard times teach us to rely on His strength and joy, and not our own.”
“But Grandma,” I protested, “Why can Benny can see the angels and I can’t? What is he doing that is so special and good that he gets to see them and I don’t?”
“Ah, Benny. Yes, Benny has mentioned a few times how he has played, sung, and danced with the angels,” Grandma smiled. “I don’t know why Benny can see them and we can’t. But I do know this: we can see them too if we only look hard enough.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Maybe not the angels specifically, but we can see God.”
“How?” I asked, starting to get impatient.
“How? Well, you can see God by looking at the galaxies, sun, moon, and stars. You can see Him by listening to the birds chirp and a child laughing. You can see Him by singing His praises, listening to the mighty oceans roar, and by enjoying a nice cup of hot cocoa. You can even see Him by watching the beauty of a rain storm. All these things are orchestrated by the hand of God and can only be enjoyed by His providence and goodness. The Bible says we can just look around us and we will see the handiwork of God.”
“I know God made all those things and I know you can see God in the good things in life, but what about me, Grandma? What about my life and all the things I have had to go through? Where was He then and where is He now?”
Grandma got off the couch and pulled out a piece of paper and pencil from the side table next to the couch. She handed me the paper, gave me the pencil, and sat back down next to me. “I want you to write down everything I am about to say. Then I want you to complete it.”
I nodded, confused, and then she continued.
“Number one, ” she dictated, “God was there when I flew on a plane to my grandparents’ house and made sure I was safe and healthy to do so. Number two, I had a place to stay, sleep, and eat when I got off the plane. Number three, I had a vehicle to ride in to get to my place of shelter.” Grandma stopped and looked up from her coloring and smiled at me. “Do you get the picture?”
“Yes, I get it, Grandma, but what about the big things? Where is God with my parents and their possible divorce?” I asked still not understanding how God could possibly be in all of that.
“Let me ask you a question. Is it true you flew here alone with your brothers this Christmas because of your parents’ possible divorce?”
“Yes,” I answered back.
“Then everything I just told you to write is a way God has provided and made sure there was always a way to take care of you through this ‘possible divorce.’
Emi, God is everywhere you look. He is not always just in the big things. In fact, most of the time, He is in the small things.” Grandma paused and then seemed to be determining whether or not she should say something more.
“Emi, has your mom ever told you the meaning behind your name?” Grandma asked.
“No, I don’t think so.” I replied.
“Well,” Grandma started, “you know your full name is Emmanuella.”
“‘Emmanuel’ translated into Greek means ‘God with us.’ Now, you know when your birthday is, right?” she asked.
“Yeah, December 28th!” I said back.
“Exactly! When you were born, your mother was just coming out of a very hard season of life. The one Bible verse that had kept her going and her heart focused on Jesus, was Deuteronomy 31:6, which at the end says, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’
Well, one name you hear for God quite frequently at Christmastime is Immanuel. Immanuel is one of the names Gabriel told Mary Jesus would be for us. You see, at Christmastime we celebrate when God came near to man, dwelt among us, and literally became ‘God with us.’ Your mother figured you were born close enough to Christmas, that your name should represent the very One who had just gotten her through a rough season in life. So she decided to call you Emmanuella.”
As Grandma finished her sentence, I was practically in tears. Grandma came closer to me and gave me a hug. She then placed a hand on my cheek and said, “You, Miss Emmanuella, are never alone. Even though it may feel like it at times or like God isn’t answering your prayers, He is! God has never forgotten you and He never will.”
As I got ready for bed that night, my mind kept replaying the story of Grandma’s past and the story behind my name. My name literally meant ‘God with us!’
I climbed into bed and pulled the blankets over my legs. I sat there for a moment thinking and watching the snow fall slowly outside my bedroom window. For the first time in a week, I felt blissfully happy. I felt loved. I felt known, and I felt seen. I didn’t feel forgotten anymore.
I turned away from the window and saw the piece of paper and pencil Grandma had given me to finish writing out my list of “how I had seen God work in my life.” I suddenly felt an urge to write on the paper, so I sat up straighter and grabbed the paper and pencil off of my nightstand.
I sat thinking for a moment about what Grandma had said about my name and how it was a reminder that God never leaves nor forsakes us. And then, I got it!
My name was not only a reminder of how God is always with us, but my name was a sign and special reminder for me! Before I was even born, God knew I would be in need of a sign this Christmas. He allowed mom to go through what she went through, so that I could be named the perfect name and be given hope at just the right moment, so that I could keep going this Christmas!
Suddenly, I was filled with awe for God. I then quickly wrote down: “God was at work in my life even before I was born. God allowed Mom to go through a hard time so that I could be named Emmanuella, and one day be reminded at just the right moment that God is always with me.”
I looked up from my writing, and for the first time in my life, I really wanted to know who this God was that I claimed I served better.
“God,” I prayed silently in my room, “I am sorry I have been so grumpy and angry lately. All I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for chasing after me just like you did with Grandma and my mom too. Thank you for naming me Emmanuella, and thank you for being my Immanuel – God with us. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
To Be Continued…