I won’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to give cause for a misinterpretation of events; but this little incident was too good not to share. Stay tuned for one tiny peek at an unplanned and unexpected but very welcome Redemptive Moment. 🙂
I WAS FIRED.
I was fired. Yep – not from my present job, but the job I had before. It’s been nearly 8 years since I went through very rough waters with a former employer, both sides feeling justified in a growing distrust and mutual dissatisfaction, and a painful ordeal that was only survived with some grace because of a gracious mediator who walked us through the transition that would ultimately lead to me training my own replacement.
This was a life-altering experience for me – not just because it was so devastating to not be believed, not be trusted, and feel I had NO earthly way to rectify the opinions of others, but mainly because this was a small family owned business, and these were people I had known for YEARS before working there, had gone to CHURCH with them, had what I thought was a loving relationship with them and their kids outside any workplace association. Yet in the months when everything unraveled and in the subsequent mutual parting of ways, everything in our friendship and association also vanished.
MEMORY IS A TRICKY THING.
From what I understand – and please, I’m not a scientist, so let’s just chalk this up to being a bit of an internet and news junkie – our brains RE-remember every time we visit a “memory,” and HOW we perceive is fluid, always changing – almost as if the memories themselves are living things – and yet our CONVICTIONS about what we remember are equally as strong in the 10th telling (which for some people will be much more varied from the first telling than others) even if the content (unbeknownst to us) may differ in significant ways.
Perhaps that’s a good argument for keeping a journal – provided we can be trusted to recount events honestly to ourselves, which sometimes may be a big “if.” 🙂
As for me? Here? I remember more the emotions, the hurt, the suspicion, or the anger – even the fury – sometimes directed at me. I remember returning some of the same. Present emotions often register as shame, regret, sorrow, that wishful longing that things had been different, that I had DONE things differently.
A BROKEN WINDSHIELD TO HEAL.
By happenstance, my car recently suffered (another) windshield injury. I looked up a repair shop online, not fully registering the location of the address, and mistakenly assessing it to be closer to my job for a quick lunch visit. In fact, this shop was several miles away, in the neighborhood of my previous place of employment. And I arrived to learn my windshield was non-repairable – I would have to reschedule for another visit to have the whole thing replaced. So by happenstance *ahem* I found myself with some time to kill before going back to work, AND within just a couple blocks of this place which attaches to so many significant negative (but growth-inducing) emotions.
So I decided to drop in for a visit.
And I found that the son has since bought the business from his parents, the wife (daughter-in-law) now manages the main office and the books, and though the mom no longer works there, the dad still weaves in and around the office, cheerfully advertising, don’t you know, that the KFC founder didn’t really get his business feet under him till he was 80 years old, so there!
I found that the gal who had replaced me was years gone, and the gal I had replaced more years before was now working there again. I found that the business had weathered the economic downturn seemingly well, and that the gracious mediator I had hoped to revisit had resigned just a few months before to pursue more missions-minded work in another city. How fitting. 🙂
There was shock expressed over how much weight I’ve lost (they all knew me at my unhealthiest), there was curiosity about the house I’ve recently purchased, my now living near my sister so many miles away from my current job, and the nearly 8 years I’ve now been with the same employer. We visited about changes in our church experiences, changes in our country, and in short how the years mature us .. if we let them. 🙂
There were smiles, even a few hugs, and they let me wander out back until I found the 80+ year old dad lifting his face to soak up a little sun behind the shop, enjoying a quiet smoke break, standing just exactly as I remember him .. I got to visit with him for a few minutes, and … was that “relief” spreading over his face? To learn that I was now in such a good place, healthy and happy and well cared for …. I left well-wishes for everyone, and asked the dad to take a love greeting to his wife, my former boss, too.
Then another round of hugs and affirmations for the healing time can minister, and we all marveled once again at how .. Paths can cross and sever, but God is still God of us all, and – for those who will humbly yield to it – his grace is greater than what we allow to divide ….
I think I will never again feel as much GRATITUDE as I did that day for a badly timed rock bouncing on the freeway on my commute to work. 😉 Miracles can spring forth from the most unlikely of places, don’t you know.
And just for the record, I don’t believe in “happenstance.” 😉
“I believe that many professing Christians are cold and uncomfortable because they are doing nothing for their Lord; but if they actively served him, their blood would begin to circulate spiritually, and it would be well with them.”
[“…This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth (who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth) hears and listens to My voice.”]
Listening to the radio on the way back from Dr. appt ~ talk show reflecting on nature of Heaven according to Scripture, and the very “physical” (in contrast to misconception of “ghostly”) experience we will have there. I was SO blessed to be reminded of the truths laid out in Revelation 21 and 22, and where we will be together forever with our Lord! …
“Then he who is seated upon the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new!’ … Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the thirsty water without price from the fountain of life. The victorious shall inherit these things, and I will be God to him and he will be son to me….‘ … Then he carried me away in spirit to the top of a vast mountain, and pointed out to me the city, the holy Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, radiant with the glory of God. Her brilliance sparkled like a very precious jewel with the clear light of crystal.
“…I could see no Temple in the city, for the Lord, the Almighty God, and the Lamb are themselves its Temple. The city has no need for the light of sun or moon, for the splendour of God fills it with light and its radiance is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. The city’s gates shall stand open day after day—and there will be no night there. Into the city they will bring the splendours and honours of the nations. But nothing unclean, no one who deals in filthiness and lies, shall ever at any time enter it—only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
“Then he showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal as it flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of the street of the city and on either bank of the river grew the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, a different kind for each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
“Nothing that has cursed mankind shall exist any longer; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be within the city. His servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name will be upon their foreheads. Night shall be no more; they have no more need for either lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will shed his light upon them and they shall reign as kings for timeless ages.
“Then the angel said to me, ‘These words are true and to be trusted, for the Lord God, who inspired the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must shortly happen.’
“‘See, I come quickly! Happy [Blessed!] is the man who pays heed to the words of the prophecy in this book.’ … ‘See, I come quickly! I carry my reward with me, and repay every man according to his deeds. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End. Happy [Blessed!] are those who wash their robes, for they have the right to the tree of life and the freedom of the gates of the city. Shut out from the city shall be the depraved, the sorcerers, the impure, the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises a lie!
“‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the Churches. I am both the root and stock of David, and the bright star of the morning!’
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let everyone who hears this also say, ‘Come!’ Let the thirsty man come, and let everyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift….
“He, who is witness to all this, says, ‘Yes, I am coming very quickly!’
“Amen, come Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all his people.”
(from JBPhillips NT)
Today has been a very TRYING day! … Calling to mind bits from Ps. 37 (NKJV mixed w/a little of The Message) to keep my mind stayed on HIM who is my Source and my Strength, and my Protection, and my BELOVED!
“…Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on HIS faithfulness!….Open up before God, keep nothing back…Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light….Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him….Do not fret – it only causes harm….Bridle your anger…Those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth!….THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH, AND SHALL DELIGHT THEMSELVES IN THE ABUNDANCE OF PEACE!”
Ah, thank you, Lord!! ♥
“…A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked…the Lord upholds the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever…The wicked are moral weaklings, but the righteous are God-strong…They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of FAMINE they shall be SATISFIED!…In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high; when the shelves are bare, they’ll be FULL!…The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand!…The Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved FOREVER!….”
“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice….[He] chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue. His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins!…None of his steps shall slide….Wait on the Lord, and keep His way….Wait passionately for God, don’t leave the path. He’ll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it….Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for THE FUTURE OF THAT ONE IS PEACE!…The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; HE IS THEIR STRENGTH IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them….And save them, because they trust in Him!…The spacious, free life is from God, it’s also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil – when we run to HIM, He saves us!”
or a Foolish approach to a (nevertheless) Genuine desire to serve Christ?
I have learned of a family (2 parents, 4 children all under age of 10) “raising support” for a so-called 6-week missions trip to Africa to the tune of $30,000…a trip during which they MIGHT be helping this ministry to do some construction, and they MIGHT be teaching vacation Bible school to some local children, that is IF they are allowed in, and if not, well – this ministry would just enjoy the family’s company as they visit, so would you please make your checks payable to Family-Dad/Husband by such and such date….
WHAT?? I do not see anything of the Spirit of God in this! – NO calling, NO clear direction, NO confidence that the Lord has prepared the way for the declaration of his word, NO “transparency” as far as the ethics of raising that kind of sum, NOT EVEN a way to have spiritual oversight for the trip? such as would be required to raise money through AT LEAST a sending church?, and an up-front resignation to the fact this may just be a 6-week vacation, basically, for their family of six, and so, would y’all be so kind as to fund it for them?? I will be so bold as to cry: Fraud and veritable Embezzlement in the name of Christ!! (My boldness comes, too, in part for knowing some of the family dynamic, here….)
I find this intolerable!! (and an OFFENSE to my heart, for Christ’s sake!)
So, I hope I have advised my friend wisely – I have directed him to follow the pattern set forth in Matthew 18:15-20 – Approach your “brother” whom you believe to be in sin, openly (humbly) asking questions so you are able to DISCERN if this is just foolishness or willful selfishness; offer either confrontation of sin, or wisdom to correct the folly, and if your “brother” remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, involve a mediator – In this case, I suggested my friend seek the input, then, of your family’s elder in your church, perhaps ask some more questions to gain additional discernment, and approach your “brother” again with the elder present. If your “brother” still remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, be prepared, because this may need to be brought publicly before the whole church – especially if your “brother” has sent this “support” letter to other members w/o the Leadership’s knowledge/approval/support, and is therefore potentially sinning against (stealing from!) the whole Body.
Oh, God help us, we are ALL of us foolish at times. Sure enough! And I hope, by GRACE, that if I were so publicly zealous in my folly (before God, I am sure I have been, at times!) that I would be approached lovingly and carefully by a brother/sister in Christ to at least seek out my motivation, discern my heart, and offer counsel if not correction. And if I were so “foolish” to SIN blatantly in this way, I would hope for Christ’s sake! that someone would intervene that I might not bring such shame to the cause of Christ.
But still? And failing all other intervention? I pray that God, by his GRACE, would nevertheless cover ALL of our own foolishness and sinfulness with the blood of Christ and STILL bring about some good for his Glory, that we might nevertheless say with the Apostle Paul – imprisoned and bad-mouthed by other “preachers” of the Gospel, and exactly in a situation when we might expect him to “defend” himself and rebuke the nay-sayers/abusers – in Philippians 1:12-21 ~
They Can’t Imprison the Message
12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Glory to God! and Help us all, in JESUS’ name….
Remembering and celebrating God’s active, pursuing us, even though we are by nature – because of sin – objects of his wrath, he intervened and came by human flesh yet w/o sin, so he could die in our place, and rise again to secure our Eternal Life!
Because of HIS eternal, unfailing LOVE! To prepare a place for us WITH him enjoying the presence of the very God by whom and for whom we were made, forever!
Manger -> Cross -> Throne …
I pray, for your joy and his glory, that you embrace the Christ of Christmas, now and forever!! ❤