Most of us know of an older person who feels empty, lost and depressed after they lose their spouse of many years. Such was the case with 82-year-old Dan Peterson.
Earlier this year, Dan’s beloved wife Mary passed away and was buried in a cemetery outside August, Georgia. For six months after her death, Dan fell into a such a depression that he felt he had lost all reason to live. He spent days in his house, sitting by the window watching the squirrels in the yard. Basically, Dan was waiting to die and be with Mary.
One day, he was grocery shopping. It happened to be senior day at the store and the aisles were filled with old people. As Dan passed a shopping cart with a young girl sitting in the seat, he was surprised when the girl blurted out that it was her birthday.
According to Dan, who hates grocery shopping and generally had a scowl on his face:
“She stood up and said, ‘Hi old person, it’s my birthday today.’”
Then the girl had the audacity to demand a hug from the ‘old person’.
Tara Wood, mother of 4-year-old Norah, said the entire incident was very embarrassing, especially when Norah addressed Dan as ‘old person’. She explained that Norah is not an out-going kid and usually doesn’t talk to strangers, but for some reason that no one can explain, she picked Dan Peterson to speak to when there was a whole store full of ‘old people’.
At first Dan was surprised, but then said ‘absolutely’ to the demand for a hug. Norah stood in the shopping cart and reached out, wrapping her young arms around the old man’s neck. His lip quivered and he got a tear in his eye as he told young Norah:
“You don’t know. This is the first time, for quite a while, that I’ve been this happy.”
Now the young girl and the ‘old person’ have a special bond that even he can’t explain. Tara takes her daughter to Dan’s house at least once a week. The two new friends hug, read, talk and play together.
Dan has grandkids of his own but says they are all grown up. Norah has grandparents, but their newfound relationship is not the same as grandparent and grandchild. Tara said that Norah has even fallen asleep holding a photo of Dan. It’s unexplainable.
When interviewed by Steve Hartman, for his CBS series ‘A More Perfect Union’, Dan admitted:
“She opened me to a love that I didn’t know existed.”
Hartman asked him:
“Dan, let me ask you – When your wife died, you felt like you didn’t have any purpose anymore. Do you feel like you have a purpose now?”
“Of course – Norah, watching her grow up. I know I made room in my heart for a lot more.”
The only explanation Dan or Hartman could give for what happened that day in the canned vegetable aisle of a grocery store and what’s happened since is that it had to be God, working in both lives.
So often when we read about the miracles in the Bible, they appear to be big events. The apparent lack of those types of events often lead many people to believe that God isn’t real or that He no longer makes miracles happen.
If you ask Dan Peterson, he’ll tell you God still performs miracles and I can relate to that. I can look back on my own life and see many small miracles that God performed in order to get me where I am today in life.
I should have been killed in a car accident when I was in 7th grade, but a miracle kept the car from gong over a 150-foot cliff. My wife and I should never have gotten together when we did, but through some really strange circumstances, we ended up in the same college class of only 14 students and we’ve been married now for over 45 years. I should have committed suicide when I was 19, but God brought my wife into my life just at the right time to save me. Actually, there are over half a dozen events in my life where I could have or should have been killed, but only through God’s hand and miracles am I still here. I’ve realized, like Dan, that God is not through with me yet and that He still has plans for me. I don’t know what they are, but I keep finding new things in life that make it evident to me that He is still using me for His purpose.
I also know that God works miracles in most of our lives and it’s up to us to see them and find the purpose. Take a moment to look at your own life and look for how God has worked His miracles to get you where you are now. I’m sure if you look hard enough and are honest enough, you’ll find them. Then ask yourself what purpose does He have for you and what can you do for Him and do it!