God is personal. And He loves us very particularly. I was reminded of this wonderful reality recently, through an interaction at our front door. Here in England, a young teenage boy from the neighborhood (I’ll call him Peter) often comes to our door after school hoping for a little chat, a listening ear, and occasionally a hot chocolate. One day as we spoke Peter asked if we had any American chocolate I could give him, specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Unfortunately, I knew we had none. Peter was disappointed and asked why we couldn’t just go to the store and buy some. This would be a normal thing for most people to do; however, I explained to him that we are Franciscans and live completely by God’s Providence for everything, including the food we eat.
In response to his look of surprise, I proceeded to tell him one of my favorite experiences of God’s loving Providence. Years ago, when I was a new novice, I was greatly desiring a pear. It was a simple thing, but also something that I could not provide for myself. Soon after this desire formed in my heart, we attended a conference and a family that we are very good friends with walked up to me, holding a large brown bag. “Sister,” they said, “Would you like these?” As I received the mysterious bag and peeked inside, I was delighted to find it full of green pears!
I finished my story and looked at Peter, expecting him to be impressed. He simply looked back at me and said, “But nobody will ever send you Reese’s Cups.”
I smiled and responded, “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone does send us Reese’s Cups, now that you and I have had this conversation!”
Peter wasn’t so sure, but he smiled cheerfully and said goodbye for the day.I shared this entertaining interaction with the other sisters at dinner, and we mused on the various experiences we’d had of God’s Providence in our way of life.
Later that evening we gathered around a box we’d received that day in the mail; surprisingly, it was from the very family who’d given me the bag of pears years ago. We opened the brown cardboard flaps and gasped- Reese’s Cups! This gift had already arrived before I spoke with Peter and was just waiting to be discovered. God’s Providence goes before us.
A few days later when Peter came to the door, I stuffed a Reese’s Cup in my pocket and went outside to talk with him. “Guess what someone sent us?” I asked.“What?” Peter looked at me expectantly.“Reese’s Cups!” I said and produced the candy from my pocket, handing it to him. Peter was speechless, and his face broke into a wide grin. It was a truly beautiful moment, as I reminded him what we’d talked about a few days ago: God is close to us and hears every desire of our hearts, big or small. “Peter, who do you think sent this Reese’s Cup to you?”“God!” he said, laughing with joy. “That’s right! See how much He loves you?”
We ended by saying a prayer together, thanking our Heavenly Father who sometimes gives us what we want, and always gives us what we need.
It might seem far-fetched to believe that Almighty God, Who holds all creation in existence, would go through the trouble of expressing His love to one person in such a trifling detail. But if we slow down from our usually hectic pace and pray for the grace to see Him, we will begin to recognize traces of His love everywhere. Simply stopping to look closely and quietly at an acorn, a snowflake, or a tiny wildflower hidden amidst a field, we will come to see that we have a God who loves us in the details.
“We conceive that Almighty God works on a large plan; but we cannot realize the wonderful truth that he sees and thinks of individuals. We cannot believe that he is really present everywhere, that he is wherever we are, though unseen…he sees what is going on among ourselves at this moment…a particular Providence, not merely a general.”
-St. John Henry Cardinal Newman
Sr. Thérèse, CFR