His Unexplainable Mercy

Good morning friends! How was your week and weekend? I pray all went well and you are ready for the week ahead.

As I mentioned last week, this week’s post will continue on with the circumstances surrounding my Dad’s passing and my young family’s return trip home from New Brunswick. As I left off, we were driving along the New Brunswick TransCanada highway, towards the United States boarder of Maine, to head home after only arriving in New Brunswick 24 hours earlier, due to the unexpected passing of my Dad.

Sit back, grab your coffee and consider God’s unexplainable mercies….

heavens.jpgHis Unexplainable Mercy

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7

We were still driving at 2 am through the blackened interstate of Maine. Andy had been as good as gold, and had fallen asleep in his car seat a few hours earlier. Other than the lights on the dashboard you could see nothing. There were no lamps along the roadside, nor any other headlights or taillights in view. I was awake, because my job as passenger was to help keep Rick awake and alert. Everything was dark and silent.

Then… out of the silence, I heard Andy gasp a breath of air, and then heard him say with great joy, as he always did when he saw my Dad, “Hi Poppa!” and then with as much disappointment, “Bye Poppa!”. In that second, I turned around and there was our toddler wide awake, looking toward the roof of the car with an intense gaze, and an arm stretched out in the same direction.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Without a doubt I believed that Andy, someway, somehow, saw my Dad. If there was anyone on this planet that my Dad would have missed being with in his last moments, it was our little Andy. My Dad and Andy adored one another, so it made sense to me that if Dad could have had one request on his dying bed as he conversed with the Lord, it would have been the opportunity to say goodbye to our boy.

CrossI can’t explain it, but this experience has permitted me to understand more fully that God can do and permit anything he wants; Time and space are no barriers for him. He is simply a God of mercy who not only showed his mercy to my Dad as he moved from this world to his heavenly home, but also, in our grief and sorry, the Lord comforted us through this most gracious, loving act.  It also made me realize that, as Christians, we are more closely connected to the heavenly realm than we think.

Finally, all the events of the last few days were God’s guiding hand. He lead Rick to be moved to go to New Brunswick in order for us to not be present as my Dad passed on. He guided my Mother-in-law and her husband to be visiting in New Brunswick at the same time we were. He gave Andy the peace to endure over 32 hours of driving within a four-day period, and he permitted my Dad to say goodbye to a grandson he adored. God is a God of the living: here on earth and in eternity. He truly is a God that guides us for our own good.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank-you for guiding our lives. May my heart be open to heeding your call. Thank-you for your mercy towards us, your children, in our fear and grief. Help me to commit all things, even those that I do not understand, into your care and providence. In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN

Reflection: Have you ever experienced God’s presence and mercy in what we would consider an unconventional way? Take time to remember and give thanks for His care for you. May this memory help you in tougher times, when you are feeling that He is distant. Take heart, God is never distant! Or, have you ever heard someone share an experience and think, “Ya right…. they’re just a little eccentric!” Maybe you thought something like that while reading this post. I totally get where you are coming from. It is a little crazy. However, those experiences, for those people, are real. God is real and present. He is never leaving or forsaking us. However, he cares for each and everyone of us uniquely, like each snowflake is unique. So, with that in mind, perhaps you could lay those feelings before the Lord and trust that he can do anything he wants, however he wants, with whomever he wants….and that, in all such ‘Faith stories’,  God is proclaimed and gloried!

Change of Plans

 

Good morning friends! I pray your week and weekend went well. Last week we began our week reflecting upon God using us to do his will, and us responding to those callings, however big or small. How did your week go with that?

Well, today I am sharing another story that begins today and will finish next week. It’s a dear story to me as it tells of our circumstances surrounding the passing of my Dad, I pray you find comfort and encouragement in God’s gracious care for you, even in the midst of unknowns and grief.

Enjoy…coffee’s hot and we are gathered…

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Change of Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  Ephesians 5:21-25

 

 

In the summer of 1993, we had a last-minute change of vacationing plans. I was pregnant with our daughter and in the start of my third trimester, and our eldest was an active little boy of 20 months. My husband and I had planned a couple days of camping to start off our week of vacation, followed by a few days with my parents at their home on the lake. Campgrounds were booked and ETA of 12 noon on Sunday was arranged with my parents.

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My husband, Rick, is not a last-minute plan changer by nature, however, upon his arrival home from work that Friday, he announced that we would be going to New Brunswick to visit his father. I was shocked but at the same time resigned to the change. He couldn’t explain why he felt so strongly that we go, but he just knew it was something we had to do. Since the luggage and trailer were ready to go, I simply made a couple calls to cancel the campground reservations and a final call to my parents to let them know of our change in plans. We assured my parents that if we arrived home in time, we would shoot up to see them the following weekend. Although they were disappointed, they wished us safe travels and we confirmed with them that we would call once we arrived at Rick’s Dad’s home.

Off we went. We began our 16-hour road trip without any mishap and arrived at our destination on Sunday afternoon around 4pm. Thankfully our 20-month old, Andy, was a good little traveller and, despite feeling like a beached whale stuffed into a sardine can, I was no worse for the wear. We had arrived and were ready to enjoy a lovely few days catching up on family news and sightseeing.

After our hugs, greetings and unloading of luggage, I proceeded to call my parents, as promised. After a couple rings, my brother picked up the phone, which wasn’t uncommon since he and his young family would often spend the summer weekends at ‘the cottage’. I said, “hi!”, and he seemed overly thankful that I ‘got his message’. I couldn’t understand what he meant; got his message? He proceeded to say, “We didn’t know how to get a hold of you,” and without any warning, announced, “Dad died.” Well, I have never known my body to feel the way it did at that moment; it went instantly numb, my mind went into slow motion, my legs gave out and down I went.

As my Dad suffered from diabetes and a weak heart, he had endured many minor heart attacks over the previous few years. It was only a matter of time that one of them would be the one that took his earthly life. Thankfully two years prior to his passing he was baptized and professed his faith in Christ. As it turned out, my Dad’s final heart attack began and was in full swing by noon that day; the same time we were supposed to arrive. God had replaced our arrival at my parents’ place with the neighbour girl who was a registered nurse. He spared us – me- from the chaos of the heart wrenching events and for the final memory of my father in such fear and distress.

Now our issue was finding a flight home for me and Andy. We made phone call after phone call, trying to arrange a flight home with no avail. By 2pm the next day, Rick finally made the decision that we were getting back in the car and driving the 16-hour drive home in order to be present at the funeral home for the final visitation, 7:00 pm on Tuesday. I was fearful that it would be too much driving too soon for Andy, however, it seemed to be our only feasible solution. As God would have it, Rick’s Mom and husband who lived about thirty minutes from us in Ontario, were in New Brunswick visiting Rick’s maternal family at the same time. So by 4:00 pm – only 24 hours from the time we had arrived-  we were loaded back in our car and headed to drop off the trailer, in order for Rick’s Mom to tow it home so that we could drive as efficiently as possible. By 5:30 pm we were speeding along the TransCanada highway headed for Ontario, silent and numb.

Godly coupleI have had much time to reflect on God’s timing and his grace. I am so thankful for a Godly husband to hear, listen and heed God’s calling, although at the time Rick nor I knew that was what was happening. I am also thankful for knowing and relying on God’s instruction to the family unit; His command to submit to one another, for wives to entrust their Godly husbands as the head of the family, and for husbands to love us so much as to give up their lives for us. Although it would have been easy to dispute Rick’s need to go to New Brunswick and stay with the already arranged plans, I am glad I didn’t. I believe it was God’s grace keeping me and our unborn daughter, from being present during my dad’s distress and passing.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you know all and you see all. Thank-you for the unexpected change in plans that may occur for the good of my life. Help me to walk in your ways and to trust those in my life through whom you speak through your Holy Spirit working in us. Thank-you for your instruction through your Word to guide me in my marriage, and all relationships. All glory, honour and praise to you! In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN

Reflection: Look back on your life. Was there a time where plans were changed unexpectedly and you were blessed by those changes? There are no co-incidences. Thank God for His ongoing protection and guidance.

 

 

Thy Will Be Done

sandis-helvigs-125065.jpgGood morning friends! How was your week and weekend? I pray all was good!

Last week we talked about remembering God’s goodness and to share all He has done in our lives with others. Because of the assurance we have in all that Christ has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection, and the reality of his promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us, we have this intimate relationship with him where he uses us to do his will and he blesses us beyond our wildest dreams, even in the midst of worldly strife, pain and chaos. These experiences are worthy of remembering and sharing and are encouraging to others. Did you have a chance to reflect upon God working in your life and share such a time with someone? Or were you able to be encouraged by the hearing of another person’s faith story? I do hope so.

Over the next few weeks I will share devotional faith stories and lessons learned as I have remembered and experienced God working in my life. I hope you become assured that God is active in this world and in the lives of his children, and that he does not sit silent. I pray you find encouragement in your own life with our Saviour through these devotionals.

Thy Will Be Done

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. Psalm 138: 1-5

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13: 5b-6

When my husband I were a young couple with three very young children, I felt God’s calling to become a Deaconess and to serve God’s people through full-time church service. In feeling such a call, I had no doubt it would happen if it was his will. And, if it was his will, it would happen, despite the many obstacles that needed to be hurdled.

kids youngOne of the many initial hurdles was being able to arrange day care for my three children: my youngest child who was turning three years old at the time needed full-day care, my middle child who was in senior kindergarten needed half-time care, and my eldest in Grade 2 needed before and after school care. As we didn’t have a lot of money, especially since I was required to quit my job of being a home daycare provider, we could not afford the regimented requirements of a formal daycare service, nor could all three children participate in the same program with all the different requirements of care.  I searched the community for other home daycare providers that I knew were caring, loving homes, but again, due to the many needs of my children, I could not find one. I was running out of options. Over many weeks, I prayed and asked around, and sought and searched, and prayed more. I kept going back to the reality that if this was a calling from God it would happen, however, if it wasn’t then perhaps this was the step at which I would stop the process. That became my conversation with God: “Lord if this calling is from you then You need to show me the person who will care for my children, but if this is not meant to happen, please give me peace of heart to let it go.” Day in and day out, I laid this prayer and responsibility on Him.

During the summer which lead up to the start of classes, I taught music camps for a couple weeks. During the 30-minute drive from home to the music camp and return, I would pray and pray and pray, as the feeling to abandon the call was not subsiding. It was during one of those morning drives to the school that I heard the name “Frieda.” Now, I cannot recall if I literally heard her name or if I just felt it deep in my being, but I knew it was from God because there was no way I would have thought of Frieda as a daycare provider for the children.

Frieda was a fellow member of our congregation, who was at a stage in her life where her three teenage sons were very independent and busy, an active member of our church, very busy running a very successful business with her husband, and smack dab in the middle of the sandwich generation. My first response, which was auditory, was, “What?!? You’ve got to be kidding! You want me to ask Frieda, out of the blue, if she wants to watch my three young, busy, loud, active children? I’m going to make a fool of myself!”

Well, as it stewed in me all day, I decided that I would stop by their home on my way home from camp. Again, if this was from God, who was I to say “no”. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I thought she and her family would be a wonderful choice for my children, but in asking, I was still fearful of looking like a fool. However, I stood by the assurance that if it was from God it would happen somehow, and if it was just from me, then the worst that could happen is that she would say “No!”

elijah-hail-33902As I pulled into her country laneway, I saw Frieda working in her vegetable garden. I took a deep breath, got out of my mini-van, and walked over to her. The conversation that followed is one that I will never forget, and am always reminded of during times when I am tempted to think that God is so distant. It went like this:

Me: “Hi Frieda!”

Frieda: “Oh, Hi Brenda!”

Me: “Um… I have something to ask you.”

Frieda: Gazing straight into my eyes, “You want me to babysit…”

Me: “Yes! But.. but how did you know?”

Frieda: “Well, for some reason, I have been feeling the desire to get back into babysitting for the past few weeks now. I would love to watch the children!

I was dumbfounded and brought to tears. In that moment, I was sure I had just witnessed a miracle in my life. As a young woman in her twenties, I came to personally understand that God was in control of all things, and that, despite whatever else came my way, He was the master of my life. I learned three lessons that day:

  1. I learned that if it is God’s will and you allow Him to be an active part of the journey with you, He will make known His will for you in His timing.
  2. If it is God’ s will, He will guide the hearts of others so that all things work for His good.
  3. If God calls you to do something and you are obedient despite your fears- when you put your pride and worry aside- you are putting yourself in a position to possibly witness a miracle.

God is faithful, and He wants to be the master of your life. Trust Him! If He’s calling you to go through something, then walk with Him through it. If it is from Him, you can make Him responsible for the outcome, but be willing to walk down the pathway He calls you to walk on, no matter how uncomfortable you think it may be for you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to trust You and to walk along Your path for my life, even at times when, according to the world’s view, I could look foolish. Please give me courage. Thank-you for the assurance of your presence in my life. AMEN!

Reflection: Is there something in your life where you feel God calling?… finding a church home? …contemplating serving Him in a new way within your church or community? Or simply answering that nagging feeling to make contact with someone. Take it to the Lord and seek His guidance. Then, be patient, persistent, …and watch. On the other hand, keep your eyes and heart open as you may be the one he is using to assist others in their calling. In either case, may we all pray as Isaiah did, ‘Here I am Lord, send [/use] me!” (Isaiah 6;8).

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