The After Miracle


I went to 4 colleges and at one point or another I claimed 6 different majors

At one point I planned on going to Bible school in New Zealand. I even got my passport, but it was never stamped until our honeymoon and even then it was for Mexico.

I went to grad school for a bit, but I left after 2 semesters.

We’ve already discussed how many different jobs I’ve held (it’s 17.)

I own more books that I haven’t read than those I have.

Our basement is home to more than one unfinished craft project… some of them furniture.

I’ve started training for at LEAST 6 different 5ks that I never ran.

I have gone public with a lot of dreams that never went anywhere at all because I abandoned them for the next big idea.

But writing?  I can’t walk away.  This is my thing.

Some days I think about giving up, I flop facedown on our bed… discouraged over the tension between the words I have inside and the ones I find time to write down.

There are sessions where I sit at my computer, cradling my face in my hands and crying over how my life fell apart.  Some days writing about feels right and then other days it feels odd, awkward and pointless.

Is this really the thing God wants me working on?

I’ve spent years being cynical and rejecting the concept of trusting him and the people he’s sent me.

Over time, the anger faded and confused resignation took it’s place.  I nearly gave up on prayer for a while… in the end God would do what he would do regardless of my opinion o the matter.

Then, last week I took a walk around our neighborhood and queued up a sermon from Steven Furtick called the expectation Gap (part 2).

He spoke of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, of how the sisters sent urgent messages to Christ asking Him to come their brother

…of how he stayed put and allowed sickness to overtake him… of how he died anyway.

By the time Christ got to Bethany, Lazarus was dead in his tomb.  Martha met him at the city gates, demanding to know why he delayed.  She’d fed him countless home-cooked meals and when she asked for something in return? She fell too low on his priority list.

Martha was disappointed in him, her faith was shaken.  She begged him to save and he chose not to. He didn’t strike down Lazarus with this deathly illness, but when she hit her knees and praying for healing, he certainly didn’t come running… 

I like to thin that he smoothed her hair as he told her: “Martha, Martha… he will rise again.” 

She assumed heaven, but he meant right then.

In the end he let Lazarus linger in the tomb so that God could be glorified and so that those who were on the fence would come to believe that this man… this Jesus….was the Son of God.

This death resulted in the salvation of many.

God did not heal my Mom from depression and he didn’t raise her from the dead.  But he is redeeming her story through one that I am writing, with my words and the life I’m living in spite of it all.

God didn’t push my mother in front of a train but yes, he did allow it.  He didn’t swoop in and save her that evening because… well, we live in a world where death is part of the curse…death from cancer and car accidents and mental illness is a guaranteed part of the package deal.

And yes, sometimes he sends miracles that stop death in its tracks.

And sometimes he sends miracles after the fact, doesn’t he?

I like to think that my life, this writing… is a part of the miracle, that in being brave enough to share hope and light, he is redeeming my Mom’s story and making beautiful things out of dust.

I believe that in our bravery, in the moments where we take our ugliest and most broken bits and hold them up…that he’s sends us our miracles after the fact.

And these miracles of ugly into beautiful are so powerful and they point heavenward as he makes his home even deeper in the hearts of his people.

These miracles bring us hope and light that God will show up even on the days we find ourselves utterly destroyed with disappointment over what he’s allowed in our lives.

The before miracle would have been lovely, but I can’t help committing myself to and falling in love with the after miracle I’ve been given.

  • Michelle Woodman

    Gorgeous. And as I read this I thought of stained glass windows, how they’re made from broken pieces of glass into something beautiful. Much like our lives (when we give God the pieces, as you pointed out).

    • Leanne Penny

      Love that imagery!

  • Nika

    I read your blog regularly and have really come to appreciate your voice, as well as the vulnerability and true honesty you express in your writing… but this, Leanne, THIS moved me in a way that I have a hard time expressing in words. You and I have walked different roads in life, but a big part of why I value your writing is because I can identify with the pain you’ve experienced. Another reason I value your writing is because, though you write about pain, you also write about HOPE. You also point regularly to God’s redemption in your posts. I have never commented before on any of your pieces, but I had to step out and give you some feedback this time. I believe THIS, this post, this theme, this redemptive hope, is the message God has given you to share with others. I am so blessed by the way you communicated it in words here. THANK YOU, for your vulnerability and your courage. You are making a difference in the world, Leanne, by allowing God to use you and by letting His light shine through the cracks. Keep showing up everyday and keep writing, girl, because this IS what He has made you to do.

    • Mark Allman

      Well said Nika.

    • Leanne Penny

      Nika, this is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read from a reader. I have no words myself.

  • Sharon Walker

    Thank you for this post which encourages me to believe God will bring beauty out of the brokenness, and His glory out of the ugliness & mess.