What are the odds? – God’s big interventions in my life

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So, keep and do them…….in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?’ Deuteronomy 4:6-7 NASB 1995

When I read and lingered over Moses’ words above, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my need to point to visible evidence of how the Lord has worked in my life.  People sometimes need to SEE tangible proof of how God comes through in this life, before they are ready or interested in hearing about how the Father changes one’s eternal future through Jesus.

All people, not just those who have yet to see Jesus for who he is, but believers as well need evidence of God working in lives of those who belong to him.

So, with this passage in Deuteronomy desire bubbled forth, causing me to want to make a list of at least 5 big divine provisions from our kind Father. I saw so many possibilities, but I’ve selected the following to encourage you.  

  1. The first time God directly answered a specific prayer request in a way that I knew it was him, was my second day at Airborne School in May 1978.  I was a 20-year-old ROTC cadet pursuing some army training at the end of my junior year in college. Much to my horror, I had failed the pull-up evaluation on the initial day of week one. If I didn’t pass the re-do, I’d be cut from the three-week class.  I wouldn’t earn those Airborne wings that I wanted. Not yet a believer, but knowing that prayer was my only recourse, I pled with God for help.  He came through.  A female airborne sergeant took me aside for the redo and passed me, with merciful leniency.   That was God’s unmerited favor for sure!
  2. His next rescue took years of prayer, interspersed with lots of despair and tears, before he gave me what I begged him for.  I had fallen into bulimia at 16. This eating disorder relentlessly pursued me.  Nothing I attempted worked. During the 9+ years I suffered, I was converted to Jesus.  Certainly, I had prayed for years before my second birth, but God waited.  About two years after coming to Christ, he provided the answer I wanted in a very creative way. He used the long months of my first pregnancy to break that binge-purge-remorse-resolve cycle.  Knowing I was carrying a baby provided a compelling reason to care for my body.  Even though I feared returning to that old pattern post-partum, God liberated me fully.
  3.  This next marvel from God surprised me.  I had to wait several years to see his divine and good plan in hindsight.  As a lieutenant, a full-colonel ‘fired’ me due to not meeting his standards. In my mind, he treated me unfairly. No amount of behind the scenes ‘Maria manipulation’ worked. A mere lieutenant has no influence! With one signature, he dispatched me back to a subordinate unit from which I had felt relief when he had brought me to his headquarters staff the previous year.  Here’s what is meant by ‘he planned it for harm, but God planned it for good’ (Genesis 50:20). Back at my old unit, my boss assigned me the ‘additional duty’ of managing the MP battalion’s million-dollar budget.  With no finance background, I learned a lot.  My follow-on army assignment added to that knowledge.  What played out after I resigned my commission stunned me.  I needed a job to support our family of three, for Mike worked a sales job on a 100% commission basis.  The recently constructed Monterey (California) Sheraton Hotel offered a job-fair.  With my budget background (but no accounting or business courses under my belt), I applied to be the Credit Manager/Accounts Receivable Supervisor.  They hired me, because no one else applied.  Pure God. I remarked to Mike, ‘So THAT was what being fired and being assigned budget duties was all about!’
  4. Further evidence of God’s goodness occurred when our marriage ruptured. Many tears, many prayers, godly counsel from biblical older women kept me trusting God and his ability to restore us, to change us. Six months later, we were still together, headed in the right direction, and learning about God’s best for how husbands and wives treat each other with love and respect.  Now in 2021, 41-years into our ‘adventure of one flesh’, we are more content, more joyful together than we could have ever imagined.  God has certainly used our sin and our suffering to grow us more into a godly and HAPPY couple.
  5. My final example today of God working marvels in my life is how he removed a physical affliction that dogged Mike for years. A sales position in his late 20s caused his body to go ‘wonky’.  Neither doctors nor meds helped.  This condition often ‘sombered’ our family life, as it drained good cheer from Mike.  One day, after about 27 years living with this ‘unwelcome member of our family’, my hairdresser suggested an anti-anxiety medication that had helped her. Mike’s doctor okayed it and miracle of miracles; Mike found relief! We knew this was a gift from God, in answer to years of prayer. We praised him heartily. Yet, 8 years later when Mike started a new job here in Huntsville, stress triggered the same condition.  We were dumb-founded. ‘Really, Father? What is up with this!!!’  We renewed our prayers, this time from a much deeper place of confidence in God.  A year later, slowly and in fits and starts, God began providing relief.  Today, Mike has been freed from this condition!  We often sing God’s praises, for he deserves all the credit. And he could bring it back if he deems it good for us.  We are learning, through suffering, to trust him more and more.

So, what about you?  What are your top 5 evidences for God, Ebenezers that you can point to, for strengthening your faith anew and as a tool to assist you confidently to communicate the good news about Jesus Christ?  Have some fun taking time to reflect and come up with a top-five list. Then share it with others.

Do you use reason to strengthen your faith? God does!

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Isaiah 1:18-20 Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

As the plane rumbled through the sky, I asked myself: Why did you EVER want to come and do this crazy thing, Maria!!!!

Helmet on, hooked up, ‘trapped’ in a shuffling line of other scared young men and women moving toward the open backside of the C-130 military cargo plane, I was about to step out into the air from 1500 feet above the ground.  Trusting that the parachute would open.

Tears stained my sweaty cheeks, but no one saw. I didn’t care, anyway.  I had to make a decision. And I did.

By force of will, I shifted my thoughts AWAY from the terror of stepping out into nothingness and focused on facts:

  • Most people DON’T die when jumping out of planes
  • This is a static line jump; my chute WILL open.  I don’t have to deploy it.

And you know what?  I made it!  The next 4 jumps that week were not nearly as scary. I successfully completed the Army’s Airborne School at Ft Benning, Georgia earning my Parachutist Badge.

I was thinking about that first jump last night when I couldn’t sleep. How I had to simply stop looking at my fears and focus on statistics, on facts.  Immediately I saw the connection to the life of faith over sight.

God teaches us throughout his word to focus on TRUTH, that is ‘divine facts’, to reason FROM them to more truth. To move logically from the following two categories of truth:

  • Who he is, his unchanging characteristics or attributes
  • His promises, bought for Christians by Jesus

Plus, a third and growing category of unshakeable evidence:

  • God’s ‘record’ of coming through for me, in answer to prayer, time and time again.

How long have these 3 categories been my source of strength?

I believe that God swapped out my old heart for a new heart warm toward him when I was 24.  I didn’t grow much until I was 40 and started studying my Bible in Bible Study Fellowship.  I turn 63 next week.  Therefore, my Christian experience was Bible-bereft for 16 years, but now has been Bible-enriched for 23 years. These past 23 years have built my confidence in both our Triune God AND his word.

Even before I was a believer, I knew God answered prayer.  In that very same 3-week Airborne School experience, I called on God to help me. It was Day 1 and we had to run 5 miles and then pass a physical fitness test.  I failed the pull-ups. The next morning, an ‘airborne sergeant’ retested me and gave the green light.  I had been praying fervently.  God came through.  I wasn’t even a believer.  But I have never forgotten God’s goodness to this unrepentant sinner. It was the first time I had prayed a specific, measurable prayer and God came through, immediately, undeniably.

If I add the fears of these Covid times together with ‘normal’ fears, I am getting plenty of practice in CHOOSING to shift my focus from current circumstances to God-facts. I am obeying God’s inviting command to reason prayer-ful-ly with HIM and refocus my view of circumstances through the lens of Ultimate Reality and not through the looking glass of my fears.

This is the only AND sure way I find inner peace:  when I shift my thoughts upward.

 

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