Yesterday in the middle of the afternoon I got a call from Jeff Hall, a wonderful man from our church. Whenever Jeff calls, I rush to pick up because chances are he’s calling to pray. And that was the case yesterday. He said he was driving and my face came to his mind so he was calling to see if I was alright, if there was anything he could pray for? The day was good and productive, I couldn’t really think of any particular reason God might’ve put me on his mind so I said, “I am good, but you never know what is around the bend!” And he chuckled and prayed three sentences on the phone and then said goodbye. (Unless Jeff has prayed for you, you cannot imagine how much punch gets packed into so few words.)
When I made that comment, I thought I was being funny not prophetic… little did I know.
I was getting ready for bed last night and flipped open my laptop to check my email and to see if I had gotten a response to a message in facebook but I ended up having a long conversation with someone I knew really well 6 years ago. We haven’t talked much since then for numerous reasons, I suppose, and though I loved catching up, I felt emotionally gutted when the conversation concluded.
Once, while I was in college, I went and saw the movie White Oleander by myself on a lazy afternoon. It was the middle of the week, so I was one of the only people in the theater. Not one to see movies by myself (or at all, let’s be honest) I felt a little uneasy just stepping into the dark theater alone. But that was nothing compared to the funk that movie was about to put me into. I remember leaving the theater and feeling numb the rest of the day. It literally took me days to shake the emotions of that movie off.
Somehow I know its going to take me a few days to shake off the emotions of the conversation from last night.
Hindsight is 20/20. Of course, communing with Jesus gives you an edge and when you defer to His wisdom things tend to go better than they would if you were leaning on your own instincts. In this particular case, though I loved God, I put the full weight of my feelings and my decisions into my own hands, and it worked out about as well as you might think it did.
I misrepresented Jesus (although not intentionally). I wanted in my heart for Jesus to show Himself as the Living Water, but my own life was fairly lukewarm…and I am pretty sure it had the same effect on this person as it does Jesus. There’s just no right way to do the wrong thing. Period. There’s no way to semi-obey Jesus. Without Jesus we are all self-absorbed and relationally inept. This is one of the glaring examples of that in my life.
I went to bed but tossed and turned. I tried to replay things in my mind, where I got to relive the past and do everything the way I would do it now…. but you can’t go back. So then I tried to imagine scenarios where I make it all right in the here and now of life. Eventually, exhausted in the wee hours of the morning, I thought of Jeff Hall’s prayer for me hours earlier in the day. The words he prayed, I am sure he had no idea of knowing how poignant they would become later on. I wept at the remembrance.
This morning the Lord is reminding me of some truths I have come to hold closely in recent days. One, the Lord has a way of working even the most painful mistakes into good. And two, nothing is too hard for God. I love how Isaiah puts it,
“…Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into desert…”
and again a few chapters later (59:1)
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not to short to save, nor is His ear to dull to hear”
His arm is not too short. Every single one of us who has been rescued by that arm knows Isaiah was speaking the truth. God, not bound by time, has a way of being present in our past, present and future all at once. This gives Him an notable advantage over humanity because He is able to reach that long, able arm into the hurts of yesterday and correct them so as to realign what lies ahead for us. No counselor, no good advice, and no amount of wishing or crying or processing will ever be able to do for us what God can. And I can say that because He has done it for me. He has reached back years in my life and taken the sting and the power out of hurts that I thought would inform my thinking the rest of my life… but now they don’t. For surely, the arm of the Lord is not too short.
So in the coming days as I think of that conversation and that person I care for, I am going to pray. When that face enters my mind, I am not going to play out scenarios in which I am She-Woman coming to save the day, but I am going to pull a Jeff Hall and assume the Spirit of God wants to me agree with the precious promises of God. I am going to make the assumption that God is getting ready to flex those eternal biceps and change the course of the future…
…Because there’s a good chance that’s exactly what He’s up to.