Category Archive: Protection

Anniversary and a Funeral

Have you found that joy and pain coexist in your life, that they cycle through your days, weeks, months? I was reminded of that again this week.

Last Monday I opened the front door to see a beautiful mixed bouquet of flowers and a sweet stuffed bear, along with a note from my loving husband on our eleventh anniversary.

Our marriage is a second chance at love for both of us after losing our first partners. A God thing. After being widowed awhile, I asked the Lord if He had someone else for me, to sort of “drop him into my lap.” I had no desire to be part of the dating scene after being married to a wonderful man for twenty years. Don had prayed a similar prayer.

And, at a widow and widowers’ grief recovery meeting two years after Jerry’s death, there he was…dropped into my world, as it were (and I into his). Handsome, tall, white-haired, and kind. So kind, not only to me but to both the women and the other men in the group.

Our marriage has survived the normal ups and downs, and a few extra that come with the assumptions and expectations of extended family members. We’ve experienced the delight of traveling, being in small groups together, cooking together, planning for our future, laughing at our dog, Paige’s, antics, just “being” together, and learning to know and love each other’s families. There’s been a lot of joy packed into these years.

Then yesterday I attended a zoom memorial service for Virgil, who was a teenager when I met him in the inner city of Los Angeles. He was one of the teens in our Bible clubs, teen choir, and activities. My memories of him are of a very pleasant, sweet young man.

After 38 years, I reconnected with Virgil two years ago at a World Impact women’s reunion when he came to pick up his wife, Robin. Still gracious, kind, loving his wife.

And during Virgil’s memorial service, I learned so much more about his life in those intervening years. He ministered with World Impact for twenty-seven years, then started a church. His sudden and unexpected death in late December was a shock to all of us.

I had forgotten that our staff came to know Virgil when, as a 12-year old boy, he broke into one of our staff homes. That was a turning point in his life as the men on staff took an interest in him, taught him about Jesus Christ and a new way of life. And Virgil responded with a heart that hungered to know more about his God.

So, despite tears and sorrow, his service was a celebration. A celebration of Virgil’s life, his ministry, and most of all, his love for God and his family. Friends told of his faithful follow-up by text or phone; his care for others; one said he was the first good example of a black father this younger man had seen. And I pray for comfort and healing for Virgil’s wife and children, and his loving, extended family. The lion of pain has invaded their hearts.

So, joy and sorrow, grief and gratitude, constantly in flux in our lives. I praise God for those faithful men who built into Virgil’s life, who then built into the lives of others for the glory of God.

Reminds me of Daniel, who was captive under four Babylonian kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Because of Daniel’s “excellent spirit” during that captivity, he served each ruler faithfully, not saying what they wanted to hear, but speaking the truth as God revealed it to him. And he kept getting promoted to higher positions.

During those years he developed a habit of kneeling to pray in front of an open window that faced Jerusalem, his home. He did this faithfully three times a day.

And when he became one of the most powerful leaders in the country under Darius, others became jealous and tried to trap him. But they realized they couldn’t accuse him of anything regarding the kingdom because he was faithful in his duties and they couldn’t find fault with him (Daniel 6:4). So they said “Let’s find a complaint against him regarding his faith in God.”

They tricked the king into writing a decree that, once sealed, could not be changed or undone. The decree stated that anyone who asked any request of someone other than the king for the next 30 days would be put into the den of lions! Whew…a terrifying thought!

close up photo of lion s head
Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

But when Daniel heard the edict, he went home, knelt and prayed in front of that open window three times a day, just as he always had (Daniel 6:10). He knew his detractors would see him. He could have prayed in his bedroom, away from the window. But he trusted his God. And when King Darius, horrified, realized the trap into which he had been led, and from which he could find no escape, he said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

That night, as Daniel walked, prayed, slept–we’re not told–the king fasted, tossed and turned all night. Early in the morning he rushed to the lions’ den, groaning in anguish. He cried, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him, and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” (Daniel 6:20-22).

The short story is that Daniel was taken out of the lions’ den and his accusers thrown in and killed.

May I, may we who trust in our God, Lord, Savior, King–stand firm as Daniel did, trusting God in our times of joy or promotion; and of sorrow and loss. Grief will come; joy will brighten some of our days. But in all, our God has promised to be with us as He was with Daniel. And whether we are liberated without a scratch, as Daniel was, or our God takes us to Himself, He is with us. Blessed be the name of our God!

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel 6:4

Question: Do you know someone like Daniel? Consistent, trustworthy, faithful, walking with his or her God? I’d love to hear about that person’s impact in your life.

CAUTION! DISTRACTED DRIVER

You know those times you see someone swerve across three lanes to make a last-minute change to access an exit ramp? I’ve always said if I was too late to make a safe lane change I would overshoot the exit, take the next, make a U-turn, and return to the desired freeway change.

One day this week, while driving, I talked on the phone with my mother, hands-free. But I wasn’t totally paying attention and suddenly realized my exit was on the right–three lanes over.

“Hold on Mom,” I spoke up.

I glanced quickly over my right shoulder to see clear lanes and crossed two lanes, then bypassed a big pothole to move into the exit lane. I’d seen a grey car coming but I couldn’t accurately tell whether it was in the left or right exit lane. As I drove past that pothole, the grey car swooped right past me–in the lane I was entering!

“Thank you Jesus!” I gasped. Fortunately Mom didn’t hear that, or it would have caused her great concern (as will reading this!). I could have been the cause of a very serious accident, and am ashamed of my decision to make that multiple lane change at the last minute. I consider myself a safe driver. But that day I made a split-second decision that was not only unwise, but unsafe. I plan to remember this in the future and stick with my original idea.

En route home I stopped at Trader Joe’s for some groceries. As I walked toward the store, an African American woman approached me. She looked distressed.

“Can you help me? I need BART fare to get home. I’ve been walking around this shopping center twice and I got a dollar.” She pulled it out of her pocket. She said a woman in the center had called her the “n” word. “I’m so sorry.” I shook my head. “That is so wrong and you are precious.”

I asked her name, which was Faith Love.

“Do you know Jesus?” I asked Faith. “Oh yes. I walk with him all the time.” Faith’s response was immediate.

We sat outside as she told me she had cancer. Her hair was falling out and Faith pulled a scarf over her head. She told me her sister drove her to San Jose for chemo treatments, but was pulled over for a minor infraction and found to be in violation of parole. So she got taken to jail, and Faith had no way home.

While I don’t usually give money (I’d rather give food), in this case I felt led to help Faith financially. Whether her story was on the level is not up to me. I gave her the money for BART and a little extra, prayed with her, and said goodbye.

It was quite the day.

Although I was embarrassed, I told Don about the near accident after I returned home. My hubby said he prayed for God’s protection over me several times while I was gone. God definitely answered his prayer and kept his hand of protection on me. When I think of what could have happened, I am deeply grateful. I guess God’s not finished with me yet.

Have you made a foolish decision that could have been disastrous, but wasn’t? How have you seen God’s hand in the outcome?