When I was in elementary school, I used to imagine that I was a detective. I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries and looking for clues. I thought I would make a great detective. Those who know me well should be laughing by now as my observation skills are lacking in some areas. I forget where I have parked my car and I am the first to admit to being directionally challenged. I have many embarrassing stories to prove just how challenged I am, but will spare you. Even with a GPS, I would most certainly end up lost in a car chase so detective work is out for me.
Though I am now an adult and obviously not working as a detective, there is one skill that remains strong and active in my life…I love looking for fingerprints. Not just any fingerprints, but God’s fingerprints. I love to hear people’s stories and to watch for God’s fingerprints in their stories. As I reflect back over my life I can see His fingerprints in so many areas. How He led me to the church where I first believed in Him…how I met my husband during a chance encounter, though we were from different states and our universities were competing against each other in the Fiesta Bowl…fingerprints of comfort and peace when our son, Dawson was in ICU after he was born and we weren’t sure he would live through it. Fingerprints of guidance, of grace, of provision, of wisdom and the list really could go on and on.
But I remember the instant when I first thought, “Wow, God leaves fingerprints!” It was in 1991 and our family was preparing to move to the Philippines. We were allowed to pack one crate full of needed supplies for a lifetime there, or at least for the four years before we would return to the U.S. for a visit. Our sons were 2 and 4 years old at the time and I found myself thinking of the things we should bring to help them as they matured. Our funds were limited, as was the space in our crate, so we had to be careful and strategic in what we purchased. During that time, my sister-in-law was running a daycare in her home so that she could be with her son; my nephew. I remember when she purchased a set of Childcraft Encyclopedias to use with the children. It was an incredible resource and I found myself wanting a set for our family as well. I thought it would be a great help to us as I wasn’t sure if we would have access to a public library once we arrived at our new destination. I knew that our finances were limited and that there was no way we could afford it. I found myself even feeling a little jealous. One day I felt the Lord nudging me to lift this need to Him in prayer. I remember praying very specifically and asking God to take care of this in His way. I decided to trust Him to provide what we needed in our crate and added, “Lord, I turn this need over to you and believe that you can provide these encyclopedias if it is your will. If it isn’t your will, help me to have peace and to trust you.” After I finished praying, I really did feel peaceful and content. I knew that I could trust God to do what was best for us and I didn’t think about it anymore. A week and a half later we received a call from a dear friend, Leola Fraley. Her husband was a retired pastor and they had been such a blessing to us, faithfully praying for us and willingly sharing their time and wise counsel. She told me that she had been driving by a garage sale and felt God nudge her to stop and buy something specific for us to take to the Philippines. She added hesitantly, “I’m not sure if it is something you will want or have room for, but I wondered if you could come by and look at it?” We thanked her and went over to visit soon after. Her surprise purchase was still in the trunk of her car as she said it was a bit heavy. She hadn’t wanted to move it in case we didn’t want it. Well, she opened the trunk and as you have probably guessed by now, there was a complete set of Childcraft Encyclopedias inside! I couldn’t believe it! I felt like I was looking at a huge fingerprint with the words, “I love you, Kim” on it. I began to cry and Leola quickly assured me that we didn’t have to take them, misunderstanding the reason for my tears. I explained that these were tears of joy over her generous gift and God’s clear answer to prayer. We were humbly informed that she had paid 5 cents a volume…the set cost a total of 80 cents! It was a 1964 edition and let’s be honest…for most of you, that wouldn’t say “I love you”, especially now when we can Google anything we want, but it was a huge fingerprint for me. The only one I had told about the encyclopedias was God Himself. It was our secret and He shared it with Leola.
I tell you this, not because it is the only fingerprint I cling to, but because that instance caused a shift in my thinking that has helped shape my faith. I learned four very specific things from that and God has confirmed these lessons over and over again as I witness fresh fingerprints in my life each day.
1. We can lift anything to the Lord in prayer and place every need in His hands, no matter how impossibly big or insignificantly small it might seem. I know that a set of encyclopedias was not His biggest priority considering all the great needs in the world, but God took time to listen to me and His first answer to my prayer was peace. I really would have been fine even if I didn’t receive the encyclopedias because I knew all our needs were in His hands. I believe that when we lift our big and little concerns to the Lord, His first answer is always to provide peace if we will receive it from Him and trust Him.
2. When we pray to the Lord, whether it be for ourselves or for someone else, it is as if God has placed a magnifying glass in our hands so that we can watch for His fingerprints and it is much easier to notice them. When we see those fingerprints in our own lives or in the lives of others, our faith is strengthened and we learn so much about the One who left those fingerprints.
3. God can use the fingerprints we notice to encourage others when we are willing to share them. He has given me many opportunities to share that story and other fingerprints to encourage others to entrust the needs of their family to the Lord.
4. Last, but possibly the most personally challenging lesson I learned was from Leola. I realized that she was a woman who was walking so closely with the Lord that she knew when God was nudging her to do something…and she obeyed. I knew at that moment that I wanted to have that kind of a living relationship with the Lord. To be able to listen and respond to His nudges. I have discovered that when God nudges us to do something, it is often to show His loving fingerprints to someone else through us.
Throughout my lifetime and years of ministry, I have had the opportunity to travel across America and to several other countries as well …the Philippines, China, Scotland, Ecuador, Haiti…all very different countries & cultures. In addition to that, we have had the joy of hosting people in our home from many different nations as well. I am continually amazed at God’s fingerprints displayed in people’s lives as I listen to their stories. Not all of those fingerprints were “encyclopedias in the trunk” kind of fingerprints. Some were shown in the deep valleys of grief and loss. Others were shown while waiting for provision or a much-needed answer, but they were there none-the-less.
Far above the fingerprints I have seen in my own life and in those around me, have been those God has shown me in His Word. The Bible is full of them! But there is one that stands above them all. It is the most vivid, loving and life-changing fingerprint …one that has forever changed and impacted my life and how I live every single day. It is the fingerprint that gives me confidence that each prayer lifted is heard and is in the safest of hands. This fingerprint was made not with ink, but with Jesus’ own blood shed for each one of us on the cross. With Easter fast approaching, we have a fresh reminder of the hope we have in our risen Lord.
But what about you? Where have you seen His fingerprints in your life? What evidence have you seen? Where is it hardest to believe? For some, this may all be new to you and you aren’t sure you believe any of this yet. For others, you chose to believe in Jesus long ago…the struggle is how to keep believing through the storms and the times when those fingerprints don’t quite look the way you had hoped they would. Still for others, the question isn’t whether you believe, but the deep ache you feel for those you love that don’t believe.
Jesus’ fingerprints are just too plentiful to ignore. I love the last verse penned in the Book of John. After John shares rich accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection he concludes with, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
I invite you to weigh the evidence and take time to be reminded that Christ died for you. I challenge you to believe…not just in Him, but to keep believing Him day by day. May the evidence overwhelm you and remind you of how deeply you are loved.