Reminders of God’s Faithfulness By Michael J. Mantel
Three Gifts that Remind Me of God’s Faithfulness
What are the things that remind you of God’s faithfulness in your life?
During the holiday season, my wife and I often spend our evenings cross-checking lists of gift ideas for our kids and grandkids. Doing this brings us joy.
But this year, I’ve been thinking about gifts that were never wrapped or placed under the tree. Each of these gifts reminds me of how God cared for me, even when I didn’t realize it.
The first gift starts in a place I’m not proud of. I was in my early 20s, with no money or job and living on a borrowed couch. I no longer believed in God, yet I also believed God would punish me for my disbelief. To make matters worse, I’d hurt my ankle and it was swollen to the size of a grapefruit, but I couldn’t afford a doctor.
My brother Pete came over, gathered all the empty beer bottles scattered about me, and returned those to the grocery store to collect the ten-cent deposit. He used that money to rent a pair of crutches.
Those rented crutches were a gift—they got me off the couch. Now that I was back on my feet, my girlfriend at the time, Natalie, asked if I was finally ready to find a faith community where I could ask whether God existed … and if he did, was he a good God, worth giving my life to?
“I’ll go on Thursday,” I told her. As I did, I heard a crack and felt my ankle settle into place. To this day, I don’t know if that was a miracle or a coincidence, but I do know it felt like a sign. Maybe I needed to give God a chance.
In 1987, I was in Senegal constructing a windmill, to bring fresh, safe water to a community.
I spent hours sitting under a tree with the local holy man, communicating as best we could without a common language.
I wanted to give him a gift but didn’t have much to offer. In my travel kit, I had a small flashlight with two extra batteries. When I showed him how to turn the light on, he smiled. Then he slid his hand into his robe and pulled out a silver ring with a small red stone and handed it to me.
To this day, I think of his generosity. How he offered a gift as a sign of respect and of equality—a reminder that he was not just there to receive, but to give as well.
A few years ago, my wife of 30 years, Natalie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery was necessary and I wanted her to know I’d find her just as beautiful after the surgery as I did before.
Scar tissue strengthens our skin; we can be stronger than before at the place where we were wounded. That is a tremendous image of God’s redemptive work in our lives. For Natalie, I chose a cracked ceramic cup, with each fissure mended with gold and lacquer, made in the Japanese art form Kintsugi.
To this day the cup reminds both of us that God makes us more beautiful, more useful in our brokenness.
Earlier this year, I published a book, Thirsting for Living Water. In it, I share these stories and more. This Christmas season, as your family gathers to celebrate, I encourage you to tell stories about gifts that have changed your life. That wrapping paper will hit the rubbish bin and your children will eventually outgrow their toys, but these stories are a family legacy that will endure.
Michael J. Mantel is president and CEO of Living Water International, a faith-based global humanitarian organization. He previously spent seventeen years working for World Vision and nine years in business.
You will find more stories at https://www.michaeljmantel.com/stories.
Christian Leadership Alliance is honored to have Dr. Mantel as the keynote speakers for the Men’s Breakfast at the Outcomes Conference April 26-28, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky!
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