Just over seven years ago, the Lord blessed me and the fragrant Mrs Acular with the calling of parenthood and the blessing of not just one tiny life, but two. Two bundles of curly red-headed joy, a journey as yet unfolded, the future resting prone before us. Yes, they were a challenge of some intensity in the beginning - sleepless nights and fraught uncertain days. The handbook of parenting is yet to be written, (if we disregard Gina Ford, which is a good start) yet its blueprint is embedded within each and every new parent. We have the instinct hitherto unseen to know how to fix the problems that presented themselves. It was a small seam of knowing that accompanied the life-stage of the girls, only to vanish from our grasp once we had passed its needs by.
You know what I think of my little girls if you read this blog, so I won't burden you with a plethora of superlatives. However, I wish to share with you, dear reader, the very real evidence brought into my life of a biblical miracle as granted us by our young ladies.
Last weekend, it happened very simply - within the context of the celebrations that marked their shared birthday. Amid the balloons, the party food, the gleeful faces of the guests as they watched the magician work his magic before them. Their eyes were wide, rictus grins painted across their innocent faces. Life for them was bounded up the very moment that they existed in - a sufficiency and satisfaction so easily and readily lost in the wilderness years of adulthood. But happen it did and like this.
You will be familiar with the account of the feeding of the five thousand onlookers, the provision from what appeared be a lack to what proved to be a plenty - a ministry of hospitality and refreshment, food for the journey of faith. You know that story, and I can tell you here and now that by the gracious gift of my perfect little girls, I saw a latter-day equivalent of this miracle, and it unfolded before my eyes and in the power of God's Holy Spirit.
The thing is this, you invite 32 ankle-biters to your daughters' birthday party, you will be blessed by an outpouring of generosity in the form of gift-giving to mark the joyous occasion. In this case, that outpouring filled a table top that is 5' long by 3' wide. A neat pile. An exciting and promising pile of gifts wrapped largely in bright papers of pink and fuchsia. When the party drew to its climax and its inevitable end, we carried that little pile of gifts back to the house, during which time something miraculous happened, almost at a cellular level.
But the gifts from the party, all 5' x 3' of them, all wrapped beautifully, became the manna from heaven that we read about in the scriptures, and it happened when those gifts were opened.
Blow me if that little pile of gifts didn't expand at an exponential rate. What sat neatly on a table top soon became sufficient in volume to eclipse even the sun and moon - paper everywhere. Boxes hither and plastic yon. Indeed, the wife and I could hardly see the kids for detritus, and it spread from room to room, basket full by alarming basketful, up the stairs, along that landing, into at least four of the bedrooms, all overt the lounge floor, the Hallway, the kitchen table, the garden, on top of the dog and under the cat. Stuff everywhere I tell you. All that was visible of yours truly was the spiky tips of his grey hair emerging from a self propelled shifting mountain of wrapping paper. To the left, one kid's gifts, and to the right the other's. Never in my whole life have I seen physical matter expand in volume at the rate that this modest gift pile did. Like the magic porridge pot, the immanence of our certain drowning fast approached as we lamented our early departure and sought the comfort of Last Rites. Batteries were needed, and that right quick. So, therefore, did we need the little screwdriver - and that even quicker. Bawling and screaming accompanied the determined affront to our physical well-being by this every expanding Leviathan of gift stuff.
The moral of the story is this. If you are ever wandering through the Gallilean countryside, all bucolic and that, and you bump into five-thousand groupies looking for a free feed, this is what to do. Put on a birthday party for two seven year old girls and ask that their only gifts we in food and fluid. Mark my words - once you start faffing with them, they will feed a small continent of free-food foraging groupies.