Monthly Archives: September 2018

Grace and the Pedestrian

“STOP!!!” my husband yelled.

I was stopped at an intersection with a one way street, my head turned to the left to watch the oncoming traffic.  I waited patiently for a break in the traffic so that I could make a right hand turn.  When it came, I accelerated…and totally forgot to check first to my right.  When Michael yelled, I immediately hit the brakes as my head whipped back to the right.  To my total and complete horror, I saw that I had almost hit a group of three pedestrians.

I could easily blame this on the lack of sleep from the previous night.  It could have happened because I was unfamiliar with the place I was driving.  I could even blame the pedestrians for walking in front of a vehicle without making eye contact with the driver.  However, the fact is that this near-accident was totally and completely my fault and my fault only.

The young man who was closest to my car had had to jump out of the way, and he was NOT happy.  He yelled at me.  I quickly rolled down my window as the group walked on and apologized profusely.  The man who had jumped had nothing encouraging to say in return except to encourage me to be a better driver.

I was shaking as I carefully drove the rest of the way to our destination.  I began to pray and thank Jesus that nobody had gotten hurt.  I asked Him to help the young man and his friends have a good day in spite of our encounter.  I also asked Him to forgive me.

Do you know what happened next?

Jesus forgave me.

He had no angry words for me, no “How could you?!” type of reaction.  He spoke no condemnation of me for my lapse in basic driving skills.  He didn’t sigh loudly in response to having to offer His protection over the situation.  He just forgave me, freely and willingly, no questions asked.

Now I don’t blame the young man for his reaction, and who would?  He was completely justified in being upset.  I would imagine that he was scared for his safety and well-being and that of his companions.  I would imagine that he was angry that that had been threatened.  That would be a natural, human reaction.

The fact is, though, that Jesus doesn’t react to our mistakes – our sins – the way that we would expect a human to react.  Jesus reacts with grace.  Grace can be defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God”.  First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.  He never speaks words of condemnation over us; He will lovingly and gently point out a better way to do it the next time.   He never holds our sins over our heads.  He never demands that we shape up; instead He invites us to learn and to move forward from there.

Friends, if you’re hearing voices of condemnation, you’re listening to the enemy of your soul.  Our Heavenly Father is full of grace, compassion and mercy.  His voice is one of gentle instruction.  His offer is of a second chance.  His is the voice that brings life and growth.  If you confess your sins to Him, grace will be His response – 100% of the time.  Won’t you listen to His voice and receive His grace today?

 

The Broken Road to Georgia

“Uh-oh,” I said to my husband, Michael, “This is NOT good.”

It was last Friday night and I was driving my relatively new car down I-75 S about thirty miles outside of Lexington, KY where we live.  We were heading to Georgia for the weekend to visit with family and to attend the University of Georgia football game on Saturday.  I was in the middle of three southbound lanes and cruising along with traffic at 80 mph when all of a sudden three of the dashboard warning lights started coming on and the radio display began flashing.  The next thing I knew, ALL of the dashboard warning lights were on and I lost all power to the car.

I was in quite a fix.  Traffic was heavy.  There were large 18 wheelers lumbering along in the right hand lane and people were whizzing by me in the left hand lane.  I had no turn signals and no emergency flashers to even warn people that I was slowing down.  As the car slowed, people in my lane began swerving to either lane beside me to avoid me, some with horns honking in irritation.

Finally I got an opening in the traffic in the right hand lane, and I was able to safely navigate my ever-slowing car into that lane and on into the emergency lane.  Whew!  From there, we called for a tow truck to haul us back to the dealer in Lexington, then an Uber to pick us up at the dealer and take us back to our house so that we could get Michael’s car, and we started our journey all over again.  (We eventually made it to my dad’s house outside Atlanta at a few minutes before 3 a.m.!)

As we drove down I-75 the second time, we started recounting God’s blessings to us just in this little incident:

  • We were able to safely navigate to the side of the road in a very dangerous situation.
  • The manufacturer of the car provided the tow truck service at no cost to us.
  • The tow truck arrived quickly.
  • The tow truck driver was very pleasant and very professional and we enjoyed our ride with him.
  • The Uber driver was also quite prompt,  pleasant and cordial and we enjoyed our ride with him also.
  • All of the work to be done on my car, which has turned out to be fairly extensive, is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty at no cost to us.
  • We had a second car available so that we were still able to make the trip in spite of the delay.
  • I was not driving alone on this trip (as I often do).
  • The car broke down close enough to Lexington that we were able to be towed to our regular dealer and were not left stranded somewhere for the night.

This is just a fraction of the ways that He blessed us that night, and we remain in awe of the many ways that He took care of us in the whole situation.  Isn’t He marvelous?  Don’t His many blessings speak of His great love for us?  We give Him all the thanks and praise and glory!

How do you see the Lord working in your life?  What blessings are you thanking Him for today?  Leave a post in the comments!

Fuzzy Signals

My husband and I are getting ready to take a weekend road trip to Georgia to see my beloved Georgia Bulldogs (Go Dawgs!) take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders tomorrow (a game that, thankfully, was not cancelled by Hurricane Florence).  Since my family is still in Georgia, I make that 800 mile round trip drive pretty often, and as a result I have chosen to equip my car with satellite radio.  I love satellite radio, because I can drive anywhere in this vast country and never lose the signal – I don’t even have to change stations if I don’t want to.  It’s a luxury that I enjoy since I love a good road trip.

Recently, however, I took a business trip to Columbus OH (about a 400 mile round trip from where I live) for a seminar.  I drove the company car on that trip, and it just had a regular radio in it.  That meant that every so often, the signal of the station I was listening to would get fuzzy and would fade in and out.  I had to find a new station to listen to in the midst of negotiating traffic in unfamiliar areas.

As I changed stations, the Lord reminded me that if I’m not careful, His “signal” can get fuzzy to me as well.  If I’m not careful to maintain my prayer life and keep my quiet time with Him, I will lose my focus on His voice – His signal to me.  If I’m not in fellowship with believers and I’m not in the Word regularly, I will cut off some of the ways that He speaks to me most often.  If I’m not taking time to be still and to be quiet, I’m going to mess up my “reception”.

How do you most love to stay in touch with our Lord so that you can hear His voice?  Do you love your quiet time?  Getting away to the wilderness?  Being with other believers?  I’d love to hear how you stay connected to Him!

9/11 Remembrance

Seventeen years ago today was one of the worst days in American history.  An unthinkable attack was made on American soil as passenger jetliners were turned into weapons of mass destruction in an act of terrorism.  Innocent people died, and heroes rose and fell.  It was a day that any American old enough to remember will never forget.

At that time in 2001, I was a seeker of God, meaning that I was still trying to figure out who He was and what He was going to mean to me.  One of my biggest roadblocks was trying to reconcile the loving God that I was learning about in my new church with a God who allowed awful things to happen to me in my lifetime.

On 9/11/2001, I was on my way to a hospital in SE Kentucky to hold an open enrollment meeting for its employees when suddenly the news broke that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York.  It wasn’t clear how this had happened; nobody knew if it had been accidental or intentional.  I walked into the lobby of the hospital in time to see the second plane hit the second tower, and the intent then was clear for all to see.

I went through the open enrollment that day in stunned silence.  I functioned on automatic pilot as I did what needed to be done.  The people with whom I met were also in stunned silence.

In between meetings, I stepped into the lobby to watch the news coverage.  As the towers collapsed, the most amazing thing happened – I felt God’s heart actually breaking.  The tears that streamed down my face were mine, but they were also His.  In that moment, I understood that God is not distant and uncaring as terrible things happen on this earth.  Those things grieve His heart deeply as He watches His children suffer.  I think it grieves Him even more when His dearly loved children inflict such pain and torment upon each other.

That experience of feeling God’s heart break was key for me in my seeking journey.  It led directly to my giving my life to Christ, fully and without reservation, on 10/14/2001.  Praise God!

Today, I remember all of those who were lost in those terrible attacks and I pray for their loved ones.  It is a somber day of remembrance for me.  However, I also rejoice that our God is big enough to bring beauty from the ashes of tragic events such as this one.  I look to Him as the source of joy and hope, and I look to Him for restoration and redemption.  He provides those things in my life and I pray that He provides them in the lives of the survivors and the ones who were left behind in the attacks.

What are your thoughts and memories of 9/11?  Please feel free to share them in the comments.

 

 

Ruth and Boaz Marry

This is the fourth post of a four-part series on the book of Ruth.  Today we are looking at chapter four, which you can read here if you would like.

Boaz goes to the city gate along with the elders and there he meets the guardian-kinsman who is of closer relation to Naomi and Ruth than he is himself.  They discuss the redemption of the property, which  the closer guardian-kinsman is eager to do.  However, then Boaz tells him that he would acquire Ruth as well as part of the transaction.  At that, the closer relative backs out and tells Boaz to redeem them himself.  Boaz then calls on the elders to be witnesses to the transaction and states that he is redeeming the property and taking Ruth as his wife.  The elders and other people acknowledge that they are witnesses and they speak blessings over Boaz and over Ruth.

Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and the Lord enables her to conceive.  In due time, the baby arrives, a son.  Traditionally, the first son born to a widow and her guardian-redeemer took the name of the dead man, allowing his name to carry on, so Ruth gives the baby to Naomi.  All the women of the town celebrate, proclaiming Ruth to be “better than seven sons”.

The chapter ends with the genealogy of Perez, which traces down ten generations to the birth of King David.  The genealogy of Perez of course is also part of the genealogy of Jesus, which is detailed in Matthew 1.  Traditionally, only the father of a child was acknowledged in a genealogy, but in Matthew 1 we see four mothers who are listed by name.  Ruth has the honor of being one of those women who is listed by name in the genealogy of Jesus, which stretches all the way back to Abraham.

Once more, Boaz’s role in Ruth’s life mirrors the relationship that Jesus has with us.  He is our redeemer, our friend.  He also is the bridegroom and we his people are His Bride.  He provides for Ruth and for Naomi in the same way that Jesus provides for all of our needs.

What did you take away from this chapter or from the book of Ruth?  I would love for you to join the conversation and add your comments and insights below!  Thanks for coming by!

Ruth and Boaz: The Threshing Floor

I apologize for being a day late with this post.  🙂  This is the third of a four part series on the book of Ruth.  Today we’re concentrating on chapter three, which you can read here if you would like.

The third chapter of Ruth opens with Naomi revealing her plan to find Ruth a husband.  At Naomi’s instruction, Ruth dresses her best and goes to the threshing floor where she remains hidden from Boaz until he has eaten and drunk his fill.  She lies down at the sleeping Boaz’s feet and waits to do whatever he says.

At some point during the night, Boaz awakens and asks, “Who are you?”  Ruth answers and then she asks him to spread his garment over her since he is a guardian-redeemer (or kinsman-redeemer in some versions) of the family.  Essentially, Ruth is asking Boaz to marry her.  This is a very bold request, and Boaz appears to be moved by it.  He speaks a blessing over Ruth and tells her that there is one more closely related than he is and that he (Boaz) will speak to this other man about the matter in the morning.  He confirms that he will redeem Ruth if the other man will not do it.  He is a man of integrity and he wants to be sure to do things the right way.  He also compliments Ruth by saying that all the town knows that she is a woman of noble character and he tells her to stay the rest of the night.  This protects her; he said this so that nobody gets the wrong impression about what she was doing on the threshing floor.

She leaves before dawn, but not before Boaz can give her six measures of barley to take home with her.  Once again, Boaz has provided lavishly for Ruth and Naomi.  After this, Boaz heads into town to find the other guardian-redeemer.   Ruth returns to Naomi’s home and tells her all that has happened, and Naomi assures Ruth that Boaz will not rest until the matter of her redemption has been settled.

Once again, there are parallels between Boaz and Jesus.  Like Jesus, Boaz is providing for Ruth’s needs.  He provides protection of her reputation.  Also, Boaz is eager to redeem Ruth just as Jesus is eager to redeem each of us.  Just as Boaz will not rest until Ruth has been redeemed, so Jesus is always working towards our redemption and the redemption of our families.  He never rests until our redemption is complete.

There are also parallels between Ruth and all of humanity.  We are all in need of provision, protection and redemption.  God is eager to do these things for us, but I believe He is especially moved when we go out of our way to find Him and ask Him for these things,  in the same way that Boaz was moved when Ruth went out of her way to find him and make her request of him.  God is a good Father who loves to give good gifts to us!

What stands out to you about this chapter?  What are your observations and insights?  Please share them in the comments and join the conversation!