Wreck Yourself

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)

 

If I even start to think about everything Jonah would have seen and smelled as he sat and sulked and prayed “in the belly of the fish three days and three nights”, I could easily lose my lunch.  It would not have been pleasant.  In fact, it may have been torture – inhaling all kinds of rotten and decaying smells.

 

But apparently it was exactly what Jonah needed to get himself back on course.  Because Jonah had purposely gone off course from where God wanted him to be.  And God needed Jonah to start moving in the right direction.

 

It started when God called Jonah to “… go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it …” (Jonah 1:2).  And Jonah was not interested.

 

Nineveh had a widespread reputation for “evil way[s]” and “violence” (Jonah 3:8).  So Jonah had no interest in going there at risk of his life, even by the call of God.

 

Mistake #1.  The wreck begins.

 

Jonah refused to consider who was calling him – and His ability to keep him safe.  All Jonah thought about was himself and his personal safety.  He did not trust God to keep him safe.

 

Mistake #2.  The wreck intensifies as fear takes over.

 

So Jonah’s brilliant solution?  He runs “from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3), driven by fear and convincing himself that God will eventually forget about him and send someone else.

 

Mistake #3.  The wreck becomes a whirlwind.

 

Jonah jumps on a fishing boat headed to Tarshish and checks out.  Completely.  He is so content in his self-righteous disobedience that “… Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5).  He disengaged from God, distancing himself in as many ways as he could.

 

Wreck Yourself

 

But God called Jonah to Nineveh.  And God wanted Jonah to fulfill that call.

 

He knew exactly where Jonah was, where Jonah was trying to go, and where Jonah’s heart was. He knew how checked out and in denial Jonah was.  And He knew He had to do something drastic to get Jonah’s attention.

 

So He sends a storm – “But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up” (Jonah 1:4).

 

Not just a little shaking of the boat.  Not just a few waves to make the crew wonder.  But gigantic waves and tumultuous winds – enough to make them think the boat would be torn to pieces in a matter of minutes.

 

And where was Jonah?  Still asleep in the bottom of the boat, unconcerned about things happening around him.  He was so deep into the wreck of his decision that he refused to stir.  He did not turn over at the loud noises of the storm.  He did not move at the extreme rocking of the boat by the winds.  He did not get up at hearing the anguished cries of the boat crew.  He refused to move until the captain forced him awake, demanding he pray.

 

Jonah was so deep into denial that it seems he was ready to go down in the storm rather than face God.  And he seems to be so disengaged with his heart that he was willing to take the boat crew with him.  That is a whole new level of wrecked!

 

And now his initial disaster of a decision turned into a literal disaster for the boat crew.

 

And maybe the truth of how low he has sunk starts to dawn on him as he is shaken awake and forced back into reality.  Seeing the storm and being face-to-face with the panic of the crew, he realizes he has to deal with his mess – he has to take responsibility for his bad choices.

 

He also decides to protect the crew, who are innocent victims in the wreck of his mess.

 

Jonah winds up being thrown overboard (Jonah 1:15), where God’s mercy shows up in the form of the fish (Jonah 1:17).

 

Now God has Jonah’s undivided attention – and his softened heart.  And Jonah can start to unwreck his life.

 

So how about you?

Is your life currently in the middle of a wreck?

Did your decisions get you there?

Are you dragging others down with you?

 

You can check yourself and begin to unwreck yourself – without having to hang out in a fish.

 

I believe if Jonah had confessed his fears to God instead of running, God would have reassured him.  God could have comforted him with the truth that he would come out of Nineveh alive – after he helped bring an entire nation to repentance.  One man and eight words changed the heart of an entire nation.

 

But Jonah took the long, hard way – and almost missed out on the blessing of their repentance.  Because he chose to hold onto his fears and allowed them to direct him.  Following his fear put him in the belly of the fish for three days – coming to terms with the wreck his fear caused.  I am sure he reasoned, he bargained, he pleaded, and he complained – before he finally came to the point of true repentance.

 

Don’t make the same mistake as Jonah.  Don’t wait for a great fish to swallow you (aka the point of no return) before you address your mess.

 

Start today, right where you are.  Before the wreck gets any bigger.  Start owning it – so it won’t continue to own and control you.

 

God is ready – and waiting – for you to own the mess, pick up every piece of it, and bring it all to Him.  He has a grace-filled plan to help you repair the wreck and get you (back) on course toward His best life.

 

So choose today to reach out for the loving hand God has waiting and allow Him to help you.  And pretty soon your wreck will become your testimony of His goodness.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/26/18 and 11/24/18

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Careless Words

Have you ever heard someone say or ask something and a wild thought pop into your head?  And before you can tell yourself “no, do not say that” you hear the words coming out of your mouth.  And then you find yourself in an OMG moment with possibly a side of embarrassment as you sit there with your foot hanging out of your mouth.

 

Careless Words

 

Moments like Peter seemed to have more often than others.  Peter, the brash disciple who seems to speak whatever thought came into his head, no matter how crazy or inappropriate.  He seemed to speak first – and, finding his foot in his mouth, left himself to deal with the consequences later.

 

Thank God He loves messy people – including those of us who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.  Those of us whose “be quiet” filter malfunctions from time to time.  Those of us who dine on filet of sole because we speak before we think.  Those of us who are emotionally charged and find ourselves speaking (spewing) out of turn by temper’s lead.  Those of us who often speak out of turn and without proper context.

 

Those of us just like Peter.

 

But here is the blessing – Peter’s careless tongue never stopped God from loving him.  It also did not stop God from giving him a great purpose.  Because God knew that Peter’s tongue, when tempered by passion for Him, would help bring many people to God’s love.

 

And Peter’s passion for God, I think, was helped along by all those foot-in-mouth moments.

 

I can only pray that God uses my foot-in-mouth OMG moments just like He did for Peter.  Especially after I had one this past week at work.

 

Our new temp asked why someone was leaving early.  I am not sure why she asked, except that this was the only other person she knew in the building.  As I rolled my eyes at her question, I gave her a joking response – something so out of the norm that it may distract her.

 

But I did not think about my response before I spoke – which I should have.  It was something a former coworker and I used to joke and laugh about.  But these were new people in a new environment, with actual adult expectations.  We were still getting to know each other.

 

And I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I was wrong.  That my “don’t say that” filter was malfunctioning as my brain tricked my tongue into believing we were still at my old job.

 

And had I been wise enough to pause and filter, I would have stopped the words that came out of my mouth.  Because I should not have joked the way I did.  My conscience immediately checked me when it heard the words – and I internally and externally cringed.  And if that was not bad enough, HR checked me later that week.

 

And I could still be beating myself up about my words.  But I am not.  I look back at the incident and I realize God is giving me a gentle reminder that it is crucial that I watch my words.

 

Because words change the atmosphere around me.

Because words change the influence I have.

Because words change people’s opinions.

 

And I could easily destroy the good work God is doing with careless words.

 

So God used this incident to remind me that words are important.

Words should highlight the positive – and not glorify the negative.

Words should encourage and build up – not discourage or tear down.

Words should bring joy and peace – not sow discord and pain.

Words should bring purpose and healing – not destroy faith and hope.

Words should bring people closer – not push them away.

 

So I failed in all these aspects.  Why?

Because I stopped paying attention to what I was thinking about.

Because I listened to my emotions instead of grace.

Because I refused to pause and consider.

 

And therefore, I needed God to remind me of the dangers of careless words.

Carelessness covers (conceal) grace.

Carelessness chases away grace.

Carelessness casts off grace.

 

Paul may have also learned this lesson the hard way.  Because he gives us great advice about our words in Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

 

If my words are not “impart[ing] grace”, then I should NOT be speaking them.  Which means that I need to consider if my words are careless and caustic or comforting and caring BEFORE I speak.  And if there is no grace in my thoughts, then I need to cast them aside and refuse to let them become words.

 

Thank You, Father, for the continued reminder about my words.  Thank You for keeping me on point about the impact and power of my words – that without Your grace they are “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).  Help me to speak words that “impart grace” (Ephesians 4:29) and help people know You.  Help me to be intentional about not being careless with anything I say and do.  When I am off course, correct me however You see fit.  Thank You for loving me enough to correct me as You lead me into Your best life.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  10/26/18, 11/17/18, 11/18/18.

Salty People

I think I have been very entertaining to God recently as I have struggled to maintain my peace and dispense grace to the salty people He keeps sending my way.

 

And I don’t mean saved by grace and living on prayer salt of the faith people.

I also don’t mean cussing like a sailor and having no boundaries type salty people.

 

I mean “all about me” people.

I mean bossy, no discussion, it is only my way people.

I mean inconsiderate people.

I mean uncompassionate people.

I mean that person who bumps into your sense of good in bad ways.

 

The exact people Jesus calls us to love – but who are SO HARD to love.

 

Because they are hurting.

They are broken.

They are damaged.

They have unhealed pain.

They fear rejection.

They are ashamed of their scars.

They won’t allow light into their whole heart.

They refuse to embrace grace and rewrite their story.

 

Or maybe because they just don’t know any better.

 

Maybe no one showed them compassion.

Maybe no one loved them and made them feel secure.

Maybe all they have heard is negativity and criticism.

Maybe they told someone about abuse and got ignored or silenced.

Maybe they were forced to suppress their emotions.

Maybe no one believed in them, ever.

 

The people who most need grace – but who we judge as the least deserving.

 

Someone like the Samaritan woman in John 4.  She was salty.  She was distant.  She was a loner.  Because she had probably been used and discarded by everyone in her life.

 

Her parents may have sold her at a young age to a man to get her out of the house.  He was probably not very caring or compassionate toward her, as he left her and divorced her – a cause of great shame.  And then she repeats the same bad man pattern not one or two but five times.  Five husbands and five divorces (John 4:18).  Five times the hopeful heart was crushed by disappointment.  Now she is with guy number six, but they have not bothered to get married (John 4:18).

 

And if she has lived in this same Samaritan village her whole life, you know how the women treated her.  Everyone knew her story, down to the last dirty detail.  So no one talked to her.  No one made eye contact.  No one was coming over to drink coffee and swap recipes.  They avoided her house, and they avoided her.  They never gave her a friendly smile or wave.  They probably clucked their tongues in judgment and rolled their eyes in scorn if they did come anywhere near her.  Because she was “dirty”.

 

And imagine how that kind of daily treatment over the course of her life wounded and scarred her heart!  She probably walked through town with her burdened shoulders hunched and her haunted eyes downcast, the chip on her shoulder pushing anyone willing to approach her to a distance.

 

It is hard to think she could be anything but salty when you think about her life in these ways.

 

So imagine how she felt to find a man – a Jew, no less – sitting at the town’s well.  She purposely went in the heat of the day to avoid the gossipy busybodies.  She certainly did not need a man, specifically an “I’m better than you” Jew – pestering her.  She already had more than enough trouble – was this guy going to add it to?

 

Salty People

 

Yes He was.  He has the audacity to speak to her – and then seemingly to demand “Give Me a drink” (John 4:7).

 

Now even strangers are treating me like dirt.  Why do I bother leaving the house?

 

But she does not voice any of this.  She may have turned her head and rolled her eyes.  But she could not afford to offend Him, because He was still a man.  She could not win a physical confrontation with Him, and she would not have the protection of the local law.

 

Yet she is curious to find out what exactly He wants.  So she carefully asks Him a valid question – “… How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (John 4:9).

 

We both know Jews don’t like Samaritans.  We both knew Jews think themselves better than Samaritans.  We both know men don’t speak publicly to women.  Yet here You are, talking to me.  A divorced woman.  A scorned woman.  A bitter woman.  Why are you bothering me?

 

But He wasn’t there to bother her.  He wasn’t there to judge her.  He wasn’t there to condemn her.

 

He was actually there to do the exact opposite things she had come to expect from people.  He was there to heal her.  He was there to hear her.  He was there to help her.

 

He was there specifically for her and her salty heart to change her life.

He was there to breathe hope and life into her long hopeless and dark heart.

He was there to show her God saw her, knew her, and loved her.

He was there to offer her a new life.

 

And the salty, isolated woman who once shunned all contact with her fellow villagers suddenly could not wait to tell her fellow townsfolk all about Him.  She rushes “into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” (John 4:28-29).

 

The salty woman lost her saltiness because of the love of her Savior.  A man who went out of His way to find her where she was and meet her in the middle of her mess.  A man who saw the sullen and downtrodden woman who desperately needed hope.  A man who offered her a new life with a new way of thinking.  A man who offered her a voice of truth and power (John 4:39).

 

So who is the salty Samaritan in your life?

Who works your last nerve just by walking into the room?

Who never has anything positive to say?

Who walks with an air of pain and shame about himself/herself?

Who is never wrong, no matter how many opinions disagree?

Who lacks social graces and disrespects personal spaces?

Who do you want to hug back toward wholeness but cannot get close enough because of the wall?

 

Don’t let his/her saltiness keep you away.  Be like Jesus – walk right into the salty mess and offer the amazing grace of the loving Savior that will speak hope and life into all the broken spaces and hurting places.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/14/18 and 10/21/18

Laughing Among the Chaos

I watched chaos ensue in every area of my life this week.  And I mean every area.  Nothing was left untouched.

 

So I should have been toppling over the edge of sanity, with all but one or two toes fully ensconced in the stress and anxiety.

 

But I sit here and laugh – loudly and boldly – in the face of the enemy who tried to destroy my peace but failed miserably.  And I laugh with a joy only God could provide – because I am full of “… the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding …” (Philippians 4:7).

 

Not wallowing in despair or sinking into depression.

Not shrinking back and shutting down.

Not worrying about endless negative possibilities that may never happen.

 

Laughing.

Smiling.

At peace.

 

Laughing Among the Chaos

 

Because despite all the messy pieces, I know these things to be true:

God is in control.

God has a good plan.

God is working things out for our good.

 

And I held onto these things as I watched the chaos continue.  Even as my women’s group disintegrated under the weight of not having a given meeting place and people’s high expectations.  Even as I faced the last work week of a coworker whom we have not been able to replace – with my boss feeling mounting pressure to replace her and coming up empty and me trying to keep with my usual tasks while my work load increased.  Even as my sister continued to have daily big seizures that panicked my mother and traumatized our family.

 

All events designed by the enemy.

To crush me – mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

To crucify my emotions and send me into a tailspin of stress, negativity, and desperation.

To curtail the good work God has been doing in me.

To cheat me out of the grace and blessing God had for me this week.

 

But I refused to flinch when he applied pressure.

I refused to focus on all the “what if’s” he whispered in my ear.

I refused to unfurl the emotions he tried to plant in my mind and heart.

I refused to follow the dark and deadly path he tried to lead me down.

I refused to fellowship with the stress and chaos he kept in my path.

 

Because I trust God has a purpose and He is working out that purpose.  He asked me to step out, but He did not promise it would work out exactly as I expected it to.  It was a great learning experience for the next time I step out of the boat.  Through medical intervention unplanned by us but orchestrated by God, we were able to find out what was causing my sister’s ongoing issues and start immediate corrective measures.  As for work, I will do as much as I can each day and get the most important things done.  We will manage, maybe a little awkwardly, for a little while.  But we will manage and get things done.

 

So when I realized how I focused on God instead of the crashing waves of my week, I thanked Him for the grace to maintain my victory.  And then I laughed at the enemy who lost yet another battle in his quest for control.

 

How have you responded to his attacks this week?  Can you laugh at him with me?

 

Marie Fremin.  10/13/18.

Purpose of the Pit

I talked to someone recently about the consequences he is facing for a bad choice.  He chose to make a bad decision and now frets about having to suffer the consequences.

 

Joseph did not have the same luxury.  He committed no crime.  One of the two biggest complaints about Joseph was that he was a tattletale – “… Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father” (Genesis 37:2).

 

It appears to be the “easiest” way of life for Joseph.  He follows his ten older brothers around, feeding the family’s livestock and doing chores around their properties.  And he is sometimes sent purposely to spy – and then tattle – on them.  Like in Genesis 37:14 – “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.

 

Purpose of the Pit

 

Joseph had it good.  Go see what his wayward brothers are doing and report back to his father.  Who will probably chew out the brothers about what he tattled about.  Then he is rewarded by his father for his “disloyalty” to his brothers with gifts.  Which he probably rubs in his brothers’ faces – and they have to face these physical reminders of how much their dad doesn’t really love them … compared to the favorite son Joseph.

 

How often did you flaunt the fact that your dad loved you more (Genesis 37:3a)?  How often did you try to hurt them with his love?

 

Because I cannot imagine at 17 that you were trying to play nice with your brothers … but maybe you were and just got caught up in Jacob’s net.  I imagine you were the typical brother who rubbed their noses in Jacob’s favoritism, a lot … but maybe it bothered you that all your brothers hated you greatly and refused to speak to you (Genesis 37:4).

 

What I do know for sure if that you, at the age of 17, were a tattletale.  You were often sent to spy on your brothers – and I wonder if you ever had anything good to report.

 

And looking at you at 17, your destiny seems obvious – stay with Jacob while your brothers disperse and never speak to you again.  You may have evolved into a good man, but you could have easily remained a tattletale who alienated those around you.

 

The problem with this path?  God saw 13 years down the road, and He needed a governor.  He needed someone secure and stable.  He needed a mature and careful man.  He needed someone humble with integrity.

 

And at 17, were you any of these things?  Probably not.  I would guess you often enjoyed tattling on your brothers and being showered with gifts.  You probably relished your father’s attention, even though it caused great strife and division.

 

But God needed a leader.  God needed a man confident enough to stand on his own, outside of anyone’s shadow and influence.  God needed a man people would respect enough to follow.  God needed a man who would care about others.

 

And as a 17-year-old tattletale, you weren’t him.  There was no palace or position of leadership in your future.

 

But God had a palace for you, even at 17.  So He had to prepare you.  He had to separate you from the poison of Jacob’s favoritism.  He had to remove you from the hostility of your brothers.  He had to strip you of everything you cherished.

 

Because in that moment, you had nothing but God.  Literally.  You had your ephod and your chains, and nothing else when your brothers “sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).

 

Seems harsh.  Seems extreme.  Seems cruel.  But it was so necessary, so God could start to build the character of a governor in you.

 

He did not let your angry brothers kill you as they wanted (Genesis 37:18-20).  God had big plans for you.  So He purposed your oldest brother Reuben to convince the other 9 to throw you into a pit instead (Genesis 37:22).

 

And that pit, Joseph, was the biggest blessing of your life.  Yes, it was deep and dark and “there was no water in it” (Genesis 37:24).  But that was the exact place God’s destiny began and His salvation came alive.

 

For God started ordering your steps to Egypt, where He needed you to be 13 years later.  What reason would you have had to go on your own?  What reputation would you have had if you did?  How would you have gotten an audience with Pharaoh?  You would have been too unknown and insignificant if left to continue your life as it was.

 

And I know God starting doing a great work in you in that pit.  Because you become a different man.  Instead of spending your days looking for ways to rat out Potiphar’s staff, you focused on your God and your duties.  Which led you to be promoted to “overseer of his house” (Genesis 39:4), trusted completely because of your integrity.  And you had a valid opportunity to tattle on his adulterous and flirtatious wife, who continuously threw herself at you … until that one fateful day when she tried to take you by force.  You ran, and she lied.  But we don’t see any record of you trying to defend yourself by tattling on her.

 

And God was with you every day you spent in prison unjustly because of her.  Until finally the day came that you were ready for the palace.  Yes, He brought you from the pit, through slavery, through prison – and finally you arrived at the palace!

 

And when Pharaoh calls you to interpret his dreams, you give God the credit instead of making it all about you (Genesis 41:16).  You have become so humble.  You didn’t ask Pharaoh for anything for yourself, even though you were in the perfect position to suggest yourself for power (Genesis 41:33).  You have learned to trust God, so you share the wise plan for surviving the coming famine.

 

And because you don’t ask to become part of the team, God honors the man you have become by having Pharaoh appoint you second in command (Genesis 41:40).

 

That governor God saw in you before the pit became a reality because of the pit.  He used the pit as the start of your leadership training and the end of your superiority complex.  He used the pit to break your father’s control over you so would be willing to lean into God instead.  He used the pit to show you the power of humility – and how far it will take you in life.

 

Your best life started in that pit – because you were destined to be more than a tattletale.  You spent 13 years waiting to get to the palace – but then God blessed you by allowing you spend 80 years in the palace.  Being able to influence people and save lives.

 

Purpose of the Pit 2

 

And the added bonus?  You reconciled with your brothers and reconnected with your father.  And you were finally able to have a great relationship with them.

 

So what is the take away for us?  Don’t shun your pit.  God has you there to break some influence off of you.  It is the place that starts your journey to God’s palace.  “God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20) – because the pit will help you start moving toward the good life He has planned and waiting for you.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/7/18

Known

Known.

 

We are all created with a desire to be known by people.  To be appreciated.  To be seen.  To have our lives matter.

 

But how often, in our quest to be known, do we forget that God wants to be known by us?  That God wants us to know His unconditional love.  That God wants us to experience His abounding forgiveness.  That God wants us to embrace His unending grace.

 

God wants to have a meaningful relationship with us, to be connected with us on every level.  To help us.  To encourage us.  To direct us.

 

And He does not care if where we have been or what we have done.  He still wants to be connected with us and help us live our lives to the full.  He wants to draw us toward His best.

 

Just look at Peter.  The outspoken and erratic disciple who one minute confessed Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:16) and then a few breaths later chastised Jesus for talking about His upcoming death (Matthew 16:22).  He swore that he would never deny Jesus, even if things got to a breaking point (Matthew 26:33).  Yet that same night he was confronted three times by three people about his relationship with Jesus – and each time, he quickly denied any connection to the Man on trial inside.  “I do not know the Man!” (Matthew 26:70,72,74) is the only thing he could say in the middle of extreme confusion and chaos.

 

And Jesus could have left him to wallow in the self-pity, despair, and regret of his fear driven denials – making the rest of his days spiritually void.  But Jesus still knew Peter and wanted to be known by Peter.  He wanted to show Peter that yes, Peter could still know Him, love Him, and serve Him.  Peter could still fulfill his purpose God had planned for him (Matthew 16:18).

 

So as Jesus stepped back into the disciples’ lives for the third time after His resurrection, Peter is overjoyed to see Him and be with Him (John 21:7).  Peter deeply regrets his actions in the high priest’s courtyard, and Jesus knows this.  And because He is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), He wants to reset Peter’s thoughts, reassure Peter’s depressed heart, and rewrite Peter’s story.  Because Peter needed to know that Jesus still loved him, despite all he had done – so Peter could go out and help others know that Jesus loved them in the same way.

 

So Jesus draws Peter out of his discouragement and into repentance, releasing him from the burdens of his denials.  And as many times as Peter publicly denied Him, He has Peter publicly declare his love and commitment – “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17).  Then choose to know Me, which means “Follow Me” (John 21:19) wherever I take you.

 

Known

 

And thus Jesus, who knew Peter all along, helped Peter know the true heart of his Savior.  The One who knows us and still loves us.  The One who redeems our bad choices with another opportunity.  The One who applies grace as often as we need it.  The One who forgives fully and finally.

 

And oh, how being known – and forgiven – changed Peter.  That day, as Jesus rewrote his story, I think he embraced the full power of God’s love.  Because he became emboldened to go out and start making an impact in the world around him.  It was Peter who stood up at Pentecost and preached “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) to the people gathered there.  It was Peter who healed the lame man at the temple gate (Acts 3:6-7) and then preached to the astonished people who quickly gathered (Acts 3:19).  It was Peter who boldly confronted the religious leaders about their role in crucifying an innocent Man (Acts 4:10) and refused to stop preaching about his Savior (Acts 4:20).  And it was Peter who was eventually proudly crucified for his outrageous faith.

 

All because Jesus knew him – and loved him through all the mistakes, the messes, and the missteps.

 

And the great news today is that God knows you.  Yes, you.  Sitting there reading this.  No matter what you have done, where you have been, or how often you have chosen not to know Him, He still knows you.  And He loves you, completely.  He is waiting for you to be like Peter and turn to know Him.  It will be the beginning of a whole new life – and purpose – for you.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/1/18 and 10/7/18

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

Isn’t it so much fun when crazy things happen to us?  NOT!

 

I was definitely not feeling “happy” Tuesday night when I busted a tire and had to pull over.  And then sit and wait for help to come.  And then scramble to find a tool that was not in the car.  And then having to call for different help – and to be told I would have to sit for about 2 hours, waiting.  In the middle of an empty parking lot.  As the time crept past 10:00pm and kept going closer to midnight.  Trying to keep my very tired eyes open and my very active thoughts somewhat calm.

 

And I could have panicked.  I could have verbally berated myself for causing the problem.  I could have sat and cried from the combination of frustration and exhaustion.

 

But instead I sat and waited.  Praying for people who came to mind.  Praying for my peace of mind.  Planning out my day the next morning.

 

Of course I knew why I was sitting there, unable to go home.  But I wondered about the purpose – what divine lesson was playing out?  And would I ever get the blessing of finding out what it was?

 

Well, to my extreme delight and complete surprise, I did find out.  Only 9 hours later.  And it was the biggest blessing of all that happened in that 24 hour period.

 

See, I had been safe and never once worried about my safety.  Everyone I spoke with made sure I was well taken care of and in no immediate danger.  The roadside assistance people kept me in the loop about when help should arrive and what I could approximately expect to pay.  The dispatcher for the tow truck told me to go home and rest because of the lateness of the hour – after I spent an hour waiting and would have spent another 2 more before it arrived.  I made it home safely and got the bonus of having a nice conversation with the Uber driver on my way home.  I got to sleep in my own bed.  My car was delivered to Firestone without issue, and they texted me with pictures to confirm.  Firestone made me their first priority the next morning, and everything was fixed within two hours of opening – and at minimal cost (thank you tire protection).

 

All blessings, when I think about what could have happened.  But all of these combined don’t add up to anything compared to the biggest blessing of them all.  The real reason for all my woes.  Her name is Miss Bea.

 

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

 

Miss Bea is the part-time Uber driver who picked me up Wednesday morning to take me to my repaired car.  God purposely put me in her path.  Because she was driving before one of her part time jobs to make money to support herself, her daughter, and her granddaughter.  I asked her about her beautiful accent and found out she is originally from Nigeria and has been here for 23 years.  God recently moved her to Woodstock.  And Miss Bea is looking for a church home in this new area of town.  I happen to love talking about my church, so I told her about the church and the pastor – and how friendly everyone is and how God makes all people feel welcome there.  Then I find out she has been curious about this church for a while, because one of her jobs is across the street at the new Costco!  So she has seen the church each time she goes to this job, and she has been wondering if she should attend.

 

And we both realized very quickly how God was working.

 

Because Miss Bea wants to get connected in the area so she can get closer to God in corporate worship.  And she has been praying – for her future jobs (hoping to condense from 3-4 to 2), her family (she is taking care of her daughter and granddaughter), her finances, and her faith.

 

So God had me tear up my tire Tuesday night so I would need a ride Wednesday morning.  And He sent Miss Bea, who was an Uber driver in the area driving before work, to pick me up.  How would we have met otherwise?  How would I have told her about the church she has been wanting to visit?  How would I have given her my phone number to call me?  How would she know who I was when she excitedly said she would be there Sunday?

 

I am hoping to hear from her, confirming that she will in fact be there Sunday.  I hope she finds herself right where God wants her to be and can get planted – with her family.

 

No matter what, I pray that God meets her right at her greatest needs.  That He provides a more stable and better paying employment opportunity for her.  That He continues to bless her with great Uber riders who tip well.  That He helps her settle into her new life and eventually into a new home.  That He surrounds her with grace to lead her family well.  That He continues to show her the beauty and benefits of holding onto hope and faith.

 

So what I thought was a careless and inconvenient accident turned into an amazing divine appointment.  And I am still sitting in complete amazement that God orchestrated everything so I could part of His plans.

 

And I hope I am always available to His purposes in the future.

 

Loving Father,

Thank You for loving me no matter how crazy I speak, think, and act.  Thank You for keeping me safe during times of trouble.  Help me to calm and quiet any crazy thoughts and out of control words – so I can focus on You and the plans You are bringing to pass.  Help me remember the blessing of Miss Bea – and how there is a blessing at the end of each trial.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/20/18