Holy Moments, Inspire

Where Can I Trust Him More?

It’s easy to believe in providence when it’s working to our advantage. But if things get shaky, we mistakenly think God has fallen asleep at the wheel. Charles West said, “We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.” Providence can be a double-edged sword. Remember Queen Esther? In order for Esther to be in, Queen Vashti  had to go out. In the moment, Gods providence can appear harmful, but it will become helpful after future realities come into view. God promises His children that all things will always turn out for the best in eternity. Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Only time will tell the whole story of God’s providential care in your life and in the lives of others.

The life of Joseph perfectly illustrates this concept. When Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, it seemed that the hand of providence was against him. But slavery led Joseph to Egypt where he was made second in command to Pharaoh. Through Joseph’s interpretation of a prophetic dream and his wise counsel, Egypt was sustained through a terrible famine. Years after his brothers’ betrayal, Joseph told them, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).

Perhaps, like Joseph, you’re experiencing a season of being misunderstood, falsely accused or imprisoned unjustly. Don’t give up! This situation is exactly where you can trust Him more. Allow God to work all things together for your good and His glory as you wait patiently for His deliverance. A bad thing can become a good thing if it leads you to something better! When you’re in a situation that you don’t quite understand, ask yourself, In what area is my trust challenged?

Holy Moments, Inspire

Tomorrow’s Too Late

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare, the famous British missionary doctor to the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo)? Her life’s motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As a single woman, she served for 20 years overseas while enduring incredible hardship. At one point she was taken captive by rebel soldiers. During the five months of her captivity, she was brutally beaten and raped. But Helen knew that her relationship with God had not been damaged. In fact, God redeemed those horrible events by asking her a counselor to female missionaries who have been abused. Now in her 80s, Dr Roseveare continues to serve the Lord. She travels tirelessly as an internationally acclaimed spokeswoman for Christian missions, mobilizing people by showing them that God uses imperfect people with real struggles to be his ambassadors to the world.

She tells about a holy moment that displayed God’s incredible hand of providence in the lives of some young orphans. One evening, she attended a young mother giving birth to a premature baby girl. Despite Dr. Roseveare’s best efforts, the mother died, leaving the tiny infant and a crying two-year-old daughter. Dr Roseveare knew that without an incubator or electricity, it would be difficult to keep the baby alive because of the cold, drafty nights. She asked a native assistant to fetch the hot water bottle to keep the infant warm. However, they discovered that the hot water bottle had burst. Dr Roseveare instructed the nurse to hold the child as close to an open fire as safety would allow to help the child survive the cold night.

The following day, Helen gathered the other orphans for prayer time. She told them about the newly born baby, the two-year-old orphan and the broken hot water bottle. Ruth, a precocious 10-year-old, prayed. “Please God, send us a hot water bottle. Tomorrow will be too late, God, because the baby will be dead by then, so please send it this afternoon.” The staff was shocked by the prayer’s boldness. Yet Ruth continued, “While you’re at it, would you please send a doll for the little girl, so that she knows that you really love her?”

Helen said she knew in theory that God was capable of doing anything-the Bible said so. But she had her doubts. Besides, she hadn’t received any parcels from England for nearly four years. Also, who back home would think that they needed a hot water bottle in tropical Africa?

Later in the afternoon, while making her rounds, Dr Roseveare heard a car drive down the dirt road. When she returned to her apartment, she was astounded to discover a large parcel on the veranda. As tears welled in her eyes, she called the orphans so that they could open the box together. In addition to clothes, bandages and snacks, a new rubber hot water bottle was in the box! Ruth, who was stirring in the first row, shouted, “If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll too!” Then she dug to the bottom of the parcel and pulled out a beautiful little doll. She insisted that they take the doll to the little two-year-old girl so that she would know that Jesus loves her.

The parcel had been on the way for five months sent by a women’s Bible study group. One inspired women had been so obedient to God that she even sent a hot water bottle to the equator. And one of the ladies had given a doll, 5 months before a 10-year-old African girl would pray, “We need it this afternoon, God.” The words Jesus said are true: “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). God saw what was needed before the prayer was uttered. Through His divine providence, He was able to arrange the details of the past to benefit a situation that would take place in the future. His fingerprints were all over that parcel!

Holy Moments

Moved by the Hand of God

Image result for sandia mountains

Sacrifice and surrender are just as the Methodists of Swan Quarter, North Carolina, did in the fall of 1876. They had decided to build a new church for the glory of God on a highland spot right in the center of town. After selecting this perfect location, the congregation was distraught when the land’s owner, Sam Sadler, refused to sell them his property.  They raised more money and offered Sadler a higher price. But hard-hearted Sam would not make the deal. Undaunted, the citizens built the new church on a low-lying piece of property out on Oyster Creek Road toward the edge of town. On September 16, 1876, they cheerfully dedicated to the Lord their small white-framed building sitting on brick pilings.

Weather historian Merlin S. Berry shares what happened next.

That same day a major hurricane was churning past Cuba on its way toward the Carolina coast. As the hurricane spun across the state, winds drove high waters across Pamlico Sound and piled them on the shores of Hyde County. Three days later, much of Swan Quarter was flooded with five feet of water. Homes and businesses were deluged and wrecked and the town’s fishing fleet was severely damaged.

Despite the devastation all around them, the residents of Swan quarter were awed by an act of divine providence; the powerful hurricane had hoisted the small church, intact, right off its foundations; it then gently floated on a direct route to the exact piece of property on which the congregants had originally intended to erect their building.  Everyone was in awe of God’s intervention. Sadler was so overcome that he later signed a deed donating his land to the Methodist church today. Today, a sign stands in front of the Providence Church, reminding visitors that this was the church “Moved by the Hand of God.”

By now, you may be wondering, How do I know where the hand of God is leading me? It has been suggested that you can compare discovering God’s will with a sea captain’s docking procedure.

A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights he knows he’s off course and in danger.

God has also provided three beacons to guide us. The same rules of navigation apply-the three lights must be lined up before it is safe for us to proceed. The three harbor lights of guidance are (1) the Word of God (objective standard), (2) the Holy Spirit (subjective witness) and (3) circumstances (divine providence). Together they assure us that the directions we’ve received are from God and will lead us safely along His way.

God still leads us and devises incredible outcomes from ordinary beginnings. What seems uneventful to us today may be the preparation for something colossal. That’s the way it happened for me one pristine fall afternoon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Little-People-Big-God672x345
Holy Moments, Inspire

He Will Bring It to Pass

Providence best describes the final phrase in Psalm 37:5: “He shall bring it to pass.” This is a simple step to discovering God’s fingerprints in your life. Be confident, delight in Him, develop holy desires, commit everything you do to the Lord, and trust God with everything-He will surely do His part of bringing about that which concerns you.

While most commentators agree on the meaning of “He shall bring it to pass,” some of their remarks impart a fine distinction to explain its intent. I’ve listed some of their different interpretations to help you grasp this key phrase better:

-He will work.

-He will secure a happy result.

-He will take care of your interests.

-He will accomplish what you desire to be done, but cannot do yourself.

-Leave the guidance of thy life entirely to Him; He will gloriously accomplish all that concerns thee.

This might be hard for you to accept, because there’s nothing left for you to do. Now it’s time for you to simply wait, and watch God move, look for His handiwork in your life. As Moses exhorted the children of Israel just before the Exodus, it’s time to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exod.14:13).

Moses and the people had done all that God had asked them to do. They obediently celebrated the Passover by sacrificing the Lamb, sprinkling blood on their doorposts, and preparing unleavened bread. After the Angel of death had killed the Egyptians’ firstborn, the Israelites asked for back wages in the form of precious metals. Then they departed in haste into the wilderness to meet with God. But the hardhearted Pharaoh changed his mind. He order his army, including 500 chariots, to chase and subdue the renegade nation.

With the army behind them, desolate wilderness flanking them on the left and on the right, they faced a dead-end at the Red Sea. There was nowhere to run and no place to hide. It was humanly impossible to escape. So Moses reminded the people to let go and let God intervene on their behalf, trusting that “He will bring it to pass.” As an act of faith, Moses simply stretched forth the rod in his hand and then witnessed God’s salvation.

How about you? Has God been asking you to make a symbolic gesture of faith? Perhaps He’s asked you to fast and pray. Maybe He’s told you to keep quiet and believe. Or you know that you must stop trying to accomplish God’s will in the power of your own might. There’s nothing you can do to change the situation or make things better. That is the perfect place for God to work. Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Today could be the day that you simply raise your arms in surrender.

trust_action
Holy Moments

Depend Wholly on Him

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” was perhaps the most histrionic (and most quoted) line delivered in any movie during the 1970’s. Another overly sentimental phenomenon from that era was a comic strip called “Love is…” It featured cupidesque couple extolling the virtues of love with silly captions like, “Love is …carving your initials on a tree.” Or “Love is…being kinda ‘corny.'” And my personal favorite was, “Love is…remembering to replace the toothpaste cap.”

We know that love is a desirable commodity-everyone loves to be in love. But what defines love? Certainly not the “Love is…”definitions. And sometimes you do have to say you’re sorry more times than is comfortable! I would suggest that the most important component of true love is that you trust the one you love. You can have confidence in who the person is and what the person says and does.

I decided to do an experiment by having my friends tell me what they think trust is. I asked several people whom I trust these questions: How would you define the word “trust”? When you think of someone who is trustworthy, what qualities or characteristics does he or she possess? Can you list other words used interchangeably with the word “trust”?

With these inquiries in mind, I challenged them to complete the following sentence: “Trust is …” Their answers were insightful”:

Trust is…being confident that what someone else says is true. – Terri Shinn

Trust is…being totally vulnerable with another person. -Dick DeBeck

Trust is …being totally confident expectation of promises fulfilled – Skip Heitzig

Trust is …earned. -.Penny Pierce Rose

Trust…believes that someone is as concerned about you and your safety as you are – Suzanne Friesner

While one friend was attempting to define trust, her teenaged daughter, Kylee, who was eavesdropping in the background, interrupted. She blurted out, “Trust is faith!”

“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “Biblically, ‘faith’ and ‘trust’ are synonymous. These concepts are inextricably intertwined.” Throughout the Bible, in the overwhelming majority of cases, “faith” means “trust” in God. In the Gospels, when Jesus spoke of faith, all except one time the apparent sense of the word was “trust.” The same is true of the apostolic writings. In them, with rare exceptions, the word “trust” precisely fits the context as an alternative to “faith.”

Kylee’s profound insight made me wonder how great men of faith had defined trust. Their answers were enlightening.

“Trust involves letting go and knowing, God will catch you.” – James Dobson

“Trustfulness is based on confidence in God, whose ways I do not understand. If I did, there would be no need for trust.” – Oswald Chambers.

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.” – Elton Trueblood

“Faith is a refusal to panic.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will!”- Abraham Lincoln

Now its your turn. Take a moment to complete the sentence,“Trust is…” Articulating your definition of trust is vital. Why? Because it reveals the depth of your faith by exposing the foundations upon which it is built.

Psalm 37:5 exhorts believers to trust in God. The Old Testament idea of trust conveys much more than confidence, hope or surety in another. It was often used in reference to a city that was secure from attack or impending danger. The cities of Israel could dwell in security from imminent doom or potential danger because God offered to keep them safe, if they trusted solely in Him to protect them. The promise of security was contingent on the nation’s faithfulness to and trust in God. This same guarantee is available to all who put their trust in the Messiah. Therefore, when David exhorted believers to “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him,” he was implying an unswerving faith in an unstoppable God.

let go
Holy Moments, Inspire

Dedicate Your Direction

Do you find it difficult to make commitments? Is it even harder to live up to them? After saying yes to something, do second thoughts plague your mind? Or does the dread of starting new projects or setting personal goals immobilize you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably suffering from commitment paralysis, which is due, in part, to the power our commitments possess. Truthfully, nothing determines your direction and destiny more than the commitments you make.  They’ll either define you or they’ll undermine you. Commitment holds the key to future success and experiencing holy moments. It is how we dedicate our direction to the Lord.

The fear of saying yes torments countless people-and it prevents them from discovering God’s best.  In The Yes Anxiety: Taming the Fear of Commitment, author Blaine Smith looks closely and compassionately at the struggles Christians have with commitment phobia.  He says, “People dislike losing freedom and assuming new obligations; thus, commitment fear is at heart the dread of losing control.”

Assuming that you are in control, is at best, an illusion. Think about it, can you prevent a drunk driver from shattering innocent lives? Can you stop cancer from ravaging the body of someone you love? Consider Job, who thought he had it made- a place for everything and everything in its place. In a matter of days, he lost it all; his business, his family, his health and his reputation. It didn’t take Job long to realize that there was very little he could control. Although God had proclaimed him the most righteous man in all the earth, he was, after all, merely good-not God. Job cried “uncle” when he admitted, “I know that You (God) can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you” (Job 42:2). When Job relinquished control, he was able to commit his life to the One who ruled the universe.  As a result, Job’s future was even better than his past. “Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).

Holy Moments, Inspire

When Do I Trust God?

PickUpPenny

The psalmist wrote, “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge” (Ps. 62:8, NLT, emphasis added). Some people believe that trust is just for the big stuff, like when a doctor says, “It’s incurable!” Or the banker says, “It’s overdrawn!” Or your spouse says, “It’s over!” However, failing to trust God with the small stuff is where I often stumble. My problem lies in holding false assumptions. I mistakenly think that I can handle the little things as long as God takes care of the big problems. But that’s not trust at all. Trust is for the big stuff, the small stuff and all the stuff in between!

Trusting God, a profound book written by Jerry Bridges, offers this insight:

[A] pitfall in trusting God, which we are prone to fall into, is to turn to God in trust in greater crisis experiences of life while seeking to work through the minor difficulties ourselves. A disposition to trust in ourselves is part of our sinful nature. It sometimes takes a major crisis, or at least a moderate one, to turn us toward the Lord. A mark of Christian maturity is to continually trust the Lord in the minutiae of daily life. If we learn to trust God in the minor adversities, we will be better prepared to trust him in the major ones.

My friend, Dianne, told me the following story. It illustrates perfectly the concept of trusting God at all times.

A wealthy employer, who possessed an estate on the ocean, a yacht docked at the shore and multiple foreign cars parked in the garage, invited an employee and his wife to dinner at one of the finest restaurants in town. Because they couldn’t afford this kind of extravagance, they were intrigued and a bit intimidated.

As the three entered the exclusive eatery, the boss stopped suddenly, stared down at the pavement and then stooped over to pick up a penny lying on the street next to a cigarette butt. He held it up in his manicured hand and with a smile placed it in his pocket as though it were a pearl of great price.

How absurd, the employee’s wife thought to herself. This man needs a penny like he needs another pebble for his handsomely Landscaped yard.  Why bother picking it up? Throughout dinner, the strange scene plagued her. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection and asked the wealthy man whether the penny he had found was valuable.

Grinning like Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat, he removed the penny from his pocket and held it out in front of her.

“Look at it,” he said. “Read what it says.”

She read aloud, “United States of America.”

“Not that; what else?” he challenged.

“One cent?” She questioned.

“No, keep reading.”

Impatiently she said, “What? In God We Trust?”

The well appointed gentlemen nodded, saying, “If I trust in God, then I believe that His name is holy, even on a coin. Every single coin minted in the United States has that reminder stamped on it. But most of us never seem to notice. It’s as if God dropped a message right in front of us to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? So, when I find a stray penny, I stop to ask myself whether my trust is in God at that moment. Picking up that penny instead of passing it by is my way of telling God that I do trust in Him. I think it’s God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

How about you? Do you trust God with the daily minutiae as as well as the major dilemmas in your life? Philip Bennett Power, Scottish minister and author, wrote:

The daily circumstances of life will afford us opportunities enough for glorifying God in trust, without our waiting for extraordinary calls upon our faith. Let us remember that the extraordinary circumstances of life are but few; that much of life may slip past without their occurrence; and that if we are not faithful and trusting in that which is little, we are not likely to be in that which is great…Let our trust be reared in the humble nursery of our own daily experience, with its ever recurring little wants, and trials, and sorrows; and then, when need be, it will come forth, to do such great things as are required of it.

As you reflect on the passage above, ask yourself, When do I trust God-rarely, sometimes, or always in all ways?

Holy Moments, Scripture Meditation

Timely Advice in the Word

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) whammed me with a huge dose of reality when I attended a discipleship training school in Hawaii. For six months, as I put into practice what I was learning, I listened to pimps and prostitutes bemoan their destiny, handed out tracts to tourists, shared my testimony with defiant youths at a detention center and worked at a Christian coffee house on Hotel Street in the notorious red-light district of Waikiki. I soon realized that this school was not for the faint of heart. The amazing thing was that I loved it!

Before heading home to Southern California, Dave and Debbie Gustaveson, the DTS (discipleship training school) administrators, asked me to reenlist as school secretary for the upcoming year. This was not a paid position. In fact, I needed to raise $200 per month for expenses. As I looked at my bank account, I realized that I had just enough money to cover airfare and a month’s support. This commitment was an enormous leap of faith. But I believed that “God will meet all (my) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NIV). My pastor’s motto was, “Where God guides, God provides.” I believed that if God was in it, then money was no problem! After prayer, I told Dave, “I’ll serve for the next year.”

Back in sunny California, storm clouds of doubt threatened to erode my resolve. I wondered, What should I do? I don’t have the resources to pay for an entire year.  Should I wait until I earn all the money needed and then join the staff? Or do I just offer what I have and hope for provision in the future? I spent a lot of prayer time considering this amazing opportunity and my meager resources. One morning, sitting down with my Bible on my lap, I asked God for His advice.

All at once, the Scripture reference 2 Corinthians 8:10 popped into my mind.  Immediately, I opened Bible to see what the passage said, This is what I read.

And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has not according to what he has not have (2 Cor. 8:10-12, NIV, emphasis added).

I knew positively that God had spoken and I must obey. So I ran upstairs to tell my family about God’s timely advice.

My dad was not delighted. When I proclaimed, “I’m going back to YWAM to serve as school secretary,” he asked, “How much do they pay?”

I mumbled, “Um, it’s a nonpaying position. But I’ll do it as unto the Lord.”

Then he inquired, “And how much does it cost?”

I hung my head, “I-I need to raise $200 per month.”

Then he put his foot down. “Lenya, I don’t think this is such a good idea. The Bible says to ‘honor thy father and mother.’ You do not have my approval on this.”

I was baffled. God was telling me one thing and my spiritual authority was contradicting it. Who should I obey? I made a beeline for the phone to hear what Dave and Debbie had to say about this. Besides, I had already given them my word. After I explained to them the clarity of God’s Word and my father’s emphatic veto, their reply was, “Submit to your earthly father and trust your heavenly Father to work it out.” Devastated, I resolved to heed their counsel.

Before Dad opened the newspaper that night, I pulled him aside. Assuring him of my love and respect for him, I explained that this was a rare situation in which I was convinced that God had spoken. I showed him the miraculous Scripture passage along with my notes written in the margin, then said, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”

For several days, Dad said nothing. But one morning at breakfast he confided, “Lenya, I’ve been thinking about what you said. For the last few nights I haven’t slept well. I don’t want to get in God’s way. I’d regret it if some day in the future you doubted God’s voice because I stopped you from obeying it today. If you’re convinced the Lord’s calling you back to YWAM, you have my blessing. But this is your venture of faith. I’ll support you prayerfully but not financially.”

I returned to Hawaii and served alongside Dave and Debbie for the next year. At the halfway point, my dad had a change of heart and began sending monthly financial support. God provided in His time and in His way. And I learned an invaluable lesson on “committing my way to the Lord.” When I offer Him my future, He takes care of the present. Also, when I’m obedient to do His will His way, He can do anything!

Have you ever read a Bible passage that suddenly stands out as vividly as one red evening gown in a sea of little black dresses? “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). In other words, God’s Word is very now and relevant in your current circumstances. If you’re looking for timely advice, check your Bible first.

In his book On Being a Servant of God, Warren Wiersbe explains the way God uses His Word to direct our paths. He shares,

Okay, You’ve waited on the Lord, prayed and counseled with people you trust and to whom you are accountable, and you’ve decided that God wants you to make a change. But before you write the letter of resignation, wait on the Lord for some word from His Word. No, you don’t open your Bible at random and point to some verse. I’m talking about a special word from God in the course of your regular daily Bible Reading. Or it may come in the course of regular worship. You’ll know that God is speaking to you because the Holy Spirit will make some Scripture vivid and real to you in a way that simply can’t be ignored.

Holy Moments, Inspire

Destined for Divine Encounters

Law-of-Men-vs672x345

Imagine having X-ray vision like Superman.  You could see past obstacles and through walls.  At parties, you could mesmerize guests as you revealed the contents of their unopened purses and wallets.  Finding the elusive belt hiding somewhere in the bowels of your suitcase wouldn’t be a problem either. What an incredible asset X-ray vision would be!

Superman not only possessed X-ray vision, but he also was blessed with telescopic vision, enabling him to span the solar system in a glance. As well, he had microscopic vision, allowing him to see the tiniest dust particle. But there were two things Superman could not see: anything encased in or hidden behind a wall of lead, and future events.

God has it all-X ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision and future vision. He declares, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:9-10 NIV). Nothing, not even kryptonite, can prevent Him from accomplishing His will.

Biblical scholars define God’s future vision as providence. The word “providence” comes from the combination of two Latin words: pro, meaning, “before”, and video, meaning “I see.” It literally means “foresight.” Merriam-Webster’s defines “providence” as “divine guidance or care; God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny. Not one detail of your life takes Him by surprise. He sees what you do and why you do it. The motives within the human heart are penetrated by God’s watchful eye. “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Through His providence, God not only orchestrates details in the lives of individuals, but also that of entire nations. One of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?” You might say that history is “His story”!

Kings, presidents and military officers unwittingly fulfill God’s plan as agents of providence.  For instance, around the time of Jesus’ birth, Cesar Augustus needed more money for his war campaigns. Like most politicians, he thought that raising taxes was a good way to get it.  So he legislated a tax initiative mandating that all citizens be registered in the city of their birth (see Luke 2:1,3).  If you were looking over Caesar’s shoulder, you may have thought, Hmmm, That’s incredible.  This decree could fulfill a prophecy given nearly 700 years ago by Micah, making sure that the Messiah is born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).  The census tax forced Mary and Joseph to travel to their hometown, Bethlehem, while Mary was great with child. Was Caesar a powerful ruler? Perhaps. Was he a pawn in God’s plan?  Absolutely!

How can we, as finite human beings, grasp the immensity of God’s purview and knowledge?  Perhaps a simple analogy will help. Have you ever stood on the sidelines and watched a parade, such as the famous Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, go by?  You have to wait to see each float, each marching band, each equestrian unit. But if you watched the televised parade, you could get some aerial shots from the Goodyear Blimp that floats over the parade and see the beginning to the end, and everything in between.

Let’s pretend that you and I go to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. We arrive the night before and camp out on Colorado Boulevard right in the middle of the parade route between Orange Grove and Sierra Madre Boulevards. The next morning we’re thrilled when our favorite float, depicting a winter wonderland glides past. Next comes the marching band we’ve been waiting for- The Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums-dressed in their mixed Scottish tartans playing traditional music on their bagpipes and drums. Just then, some late-comers push their way to the front.  Breathlessly, the lady asks, “Did I miss the Rose Queen? She’s my second cousin.  We were delayed by traffic.”

We assure her that she’s made it in time. In fact, if she walks back a few blocks, toward Orange Grove Boulevard, she’ll be able to see what is yet to come-she can view the future before it becomes our present.

Her husband interrupts, “But did we miss The Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums? I’m Scottish.”

We’re sorry to tell him, “Yes, but if you run ahead, toward Sierra Madre Boulevard, you can see what has already transpired.” At the moment, my cell phone rings. It’s my mother, in Michigan, calling to say that she’s watching the whole thing on her television.  They just showed an aerial view of the parade from the Good Year blimp. She has seen the end, the beginning and everything in between. She tells us, “Don’t miss the equestrian unit of miniature horses. They’re adorable.”

As you can see from our parade passing by, perspective is everything. Depending on your vantage point along the parade route, you can see the past, the present or the future of this wondrous spectacle.

In a limited sense, the aerial view is how the timeline of history appears to God. He has a birds-eye view of the events taking place on planet Earth. He can observe all aspects of time simultaneously. Therefore, He is able to act providentially in our lives. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens; and He knows how the past can intersect the present.

Holy Moments, Inspire

A Divine Appointment in a Skybox

Diamond-in-the-rough672x345

Not many people have the opportunity to save a nation or become royalty.  But God’s divine intervention is just as powerfully displayed in the most ordinary places.

Michelle never dreamed of having a holy moment in the midst of changing diapers and doing laundry. Life changed radically the day she became the mother of twins. They were double the blessing but twice the work. On June 16, 1999, before the girls woke up, as Michele sat staring at the newspaper, God entered her consciousness through the door of her heart.  She burst into tears and intercessory prayer after reading the headline in the Fort Worth Star Telegram: “A Family Shattered: Mother of 3-Day-Old Twins Faces Loss of Husband, Son.” Since Michele also had twins, she immediately developed a supernatural bond with the unknown woman who had experienced birth and death simultaneously.  She made a covenant with God to pray for her daily.

For days, the newspaper was part of Michele’s daily devotions as she searched for more insight on how to pray for Kathy Mogayzel, the bereaved mother. One day she read what the babies looked like and what they had been named:

Joy and sorrow, with few emotions in between, fill the beige house with blue trim where Kathy Mogayzel brought her twin infant sons home…the healthy brown-eyed boys who weighed in at just over five pounds each are already distinguishing themselves. Bradley appears to be the fiery one, like his older brother, Zack. And C.J., who takes his name from the middle initials of his father and older brother, is more laid-back, like his father.

Days turned into weeks, and still God burdened Michele’s heart with the desire to comfort this widow. But, how? She simply trusted that her prayers would be answered in any God saw fit.  She knew she didn’t have to be the one who embraced Kathy, as long as other hands reached out to hold her.

Months later, Kathy Mogayzel left her house for the first time since the tragic accident when a friend invited her to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Texas Rangers. Because the Orioles were the favorite team of Kathy’s deceased husband, she agreed to attend. And because Michele’s husband, John Wetteland, happened to be the clean-up pitcher for the Rangers, she too would be at the game. And that’s when Michele and Kathy had a holy moment. While buying two-for-one-hotdogs, these two women ended up in the very same line. Michele struck up a conversation that led to the discovery that they both were mothers of twins. Suddenly Michele realized that this was the women she had been praying for. Immediately she invited Kathy to watch the rest of the game in her private skybox.  At the end of the evening, God used Michele to introduce Kathy to her deceased husband’s hero, Cal Ripken Jr., who offered to sign her jersey. As they parted, Michele told Kathy, “When you think of this night, remember that there’s hope in Christ who will bring joy to your life again.”

Later Kathy wrote:

Where do I began to thank you? Not only did you make one of my biggest dreams come true (meeting Cal Ripken) you have put a smile back on my face that I never thought would be there again…You are the closest thing I’ve met to an angel…I do believe that God put me in the right place, at the right time and then opened a little window in the clouds.

Holy moments occur when we’re in the right place, at the right time, with a righteous cause. They begin the second that God’s providence intersects our lives, setting in motion a series of events that sweep us into action.  Michele’s heart had been burdened with a righteous cause-prayer for a widow. Then, through God’s providential hand, she and Kathy met at the right place and at the right time. All things really are possible, especially when we delight in God and faithfully respond to the desires He plants deep within our hearts.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, ‘I know you.’” While the possibility of Kathy and Michele ever meeting was slim to none, the odds didn’t matter: God had arranged a remarkable rendezvous to show a hurting woman that He knew her by name and saw all her pain.

Providence means that the hand of God is in the glove of human events.  Make no mistake about it. God will have His way. Though He remains invisible, He is in no way indifferent. Former president of Rochester Theological Seminary, Dr. Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921) wrote, “Providence is God’s attention focused everywhere.”

Make certain that the next time God places a desire within your heart, you follow wherever it leads, whether to the jungles of Africa, the courts of a king or a concession line in a sports stadium. Who knows whether you have come to your place of influence for such a time as this?  Your holy moments may be just around the corner.