By Dikkon Eberhart
One time God helped me by troubling me with an odd gift.
I came home from school—as I recall it, I would have been in either fifth or sixth grade—and my mother was distraught because she had lost a favorite brooch, which had been given to her by her father just before he died. It was absolutely vital that the brooch should be found, but neither she, nor Dad, nor my sister could find it. Mom was in tears.
Of course, I knew the brooch well and could see it in my head. I could see it in my head as though I were looking at it through a camera lens.
Since I was looking at it through a camera lens, I noticed that I was looking at it in the spot where it was just then. It was on the dirt floor of our garage, about halfway forward along the left hand side of the garage, six inches from the wall, with some leaves bunched up against it and partially covering its top. So, saying no word, I went back outside, entered the garage, bent down and picked up the brooch—it was precisely where I had seen it—and want back into the house and handed it to my mother.
I have no explanation for my vision of the brooch’s location, other than that the vision must have been a gift. As a gift, my vision can only have come as a gift from God, for who else could have provided such a gift?
My parents took my brooch vision as some sort of weird coincidence. That is as far as they went. They defused our family’s amazement at the gift by joyfully lauding—the Inexplicable. After all, the Inexplicable was inherently delightful in itself, even poetic. Though all went well for me that afternoon—I was given more hugs by my mother than usual and an extra portion of dessert—I was left with a question in my mind, ‘Why?’
If my vision was a gift from God, what was the meaning of the gift? Was it that the Lord of the universe wanted my mother’s important brooch to be found? Or was it that the Lord of the universe wanted me to notice that something odd and powerful—which had just happened to me—could happen at all, in the first place.
That brooch vision had the power to skew my worldview in another direction. I stood at a worldview fork in the road. Which of the roads should I take? Was I to take the road that my parents trod, which was the road of delight at the Inexplicable, which road led to poetic joy? Or was I to take the other road, along which I might strive and might arrive at an explanation of the brooch vision based on God’s intentionality?
I took the road I took. I took my parents’ road, though I felt disoriented as I took it. I felt disoriented because I knew I was not taking the road that was most truly mine. But I was young and uncertain of myself and didn’t really know what road was most truly mine and loved my parents and was happy that my mother was happy. That was enough—to have made my mother happy was enough.
It took me another fifty years from that moment—and perhaps another fifty more forks in the road—before I learned that just to make my mother happy—or to make any other woman happy—is not enough. What is enough, instead, is to know the road that is most truly mine and to take it with authenticity.
But back when I was about eleven or twelve, I wonder what might have happened if, at that brooch moment, some experienced evangelical Christian had questioned me about my vision and had explained to me the power of God to make miracles, big and small—for His own purposes. Suppose this Christian had invited me—right then—to join with Jesus in faith.
Suppose I had answered, “Yes.”
What should have happened?
As I wrote my new memoir (coming from Tyndale in June), aged two-thirds of a century, I was relatively new to Christ’s salvation. Suppose, instead of being a baby in Christ, now I were a man well matured in Christian understanding. Suppose I were expert, now, at what poet John Milton refers to in Paradise Lost as “God’s ways to man”?