Monday, November 28, 2011

God's Undercover Agents

     In the Neighbor to Neighbor section of the December issue of Guideposts I spotted an article about how the Oregon freelance cameraman, Kevin Felts, was able to see abundant fruit come from a random act of kindness just last April. The coincidence of his chance meeting with the recipient, author Paul Young, was another aspect of the miracle and was the type of circumstance which the Lord loves to bring into effect. Above all the rewards which are bestowed upon us everyday, of which we may or may not be aware, seeing someone become as blessed as Paul was by Kevin's selfless act are those which bless us the most. It was a wonderful thanksgiving story which I can relate to wholeheartedly. To hear more on the story you can click here and do check out the actual article as well.
     Whatever you feel about this story there are many like them out there. I have a few of my own, both as a recipient and a giver. One winter, upon leaving work in a sudden blizzard, I was rescued by four football-size men in a Rambler out of a large snowdrift in which my car had become stuck. From out of nowhere, here they were! They got out of their car and started pushing mine and got my car back on the highway. My car drifted off the on ramp and I got stuck on the shoulder again. A man stopped immediately and said, "I can't get your car out of there but I can take you home." I locked up my car without stopping to question the help and he took me right to my door at home. I asked him if I could repay him and he said, "No. Just remember to help someone else like this someday." Whether these men were angels or not I cannot be certain but everyone of them were God's agents, regardless.
     Several years later when I was headed to choir practice for church I spotted a couple right on the corner of a big, busy intersection who had the hood of their car up and seemed to be at a loss. I stopped and asked them if I could help. The man said that he needed a jump for his battery and I had just bought an emergency kit for my car. Without hesitation, I went to work getting my car situated to give them a jump and handed them the kit. Their car started up and we went our separate ways without even asking names. They were very happy and so was I.
     Some years ago, after I closed my nail salon and was liquidating my salon furnishings and equipment through a garage sale, a cousin of mine came to the sale and among other items which she purchased had spotted a beautiful sofa that I had kept in top condition. She didn't have enough money to pay for it but she really wanted to have it for her basement. I told her, "Go ahead and take it and you'll pay for when you can." I knew she was good for it and good to her word. Years went by and she would mention it from time to time but I knew her and her family were in a tough financial struggle so I never made an issue of it. After ten years she hadn't paid for the item but I let it go. In my mind, I had pardoned the debt and wiped it out. I felt better for pardoning it than to continue to expect the money and I felt that in some small way I was able to help her by striking the debt. Paid in full. Over.
     Just last year she approached me with $20 and pressed it into my hand. She knew I really needed the money. She still has financial struggles so I was surprised. She said, "Remember the sofa ?" After thirteen years my memory was hazy. I had forgotten about it completely. When she gently reminded me of the debt she included, "I can pay it off now. I'll make four more payments until I've paid it off." I hugged her because it was a miraculous amount at that point. I never would have expected to be rescued by my cousin but it was a lesson to me in forgiving debts. My patience paid off in a way I never would have expected and it was a lesson to me in how to deal effectively with such situations. Looking to the Lord for our source is the only way to live this kind of life of faith and His leading. You can see how it has made a real difference in my life.
     These are all examples where the agents of God, angels or not, were those with faces (if not names) and I am glad that some of those agents are as close as my family. Kevin and Paul's eventual chance meeting may have been orchestrated by God but even if this cannot be arranged, I can tell you that there is no finer feeling than knowing that you have done right through an act of kindness- especially during this time of the year when it can make such a difference in someone's life. You may not ever know how far it goes but God's Undercover Agents act on faith and not by sight or accolades. I can vouch for the fact that just the act itself makes you feel good. Now, there's something that doesn't have to be taken to the bank or noted on a check register. Golden.
The Castle Lady

Friday, November 04, 2011

Beyond Reason

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
     Substance and evidence are the strongest words we use in the English language for the tangible properties on subjects which may be elusive of definition. If we want to solve a mystery or win a court case we must have these elements or success is uncertain. This verse in the bible stands out the most of all in its quest to define our strongest motivation for every action we put forth in life. It goes a step further than we dare go. It asks us to put away logic and forge ahead when we see nothing ahead. It urges us to seek light in the darkest shadows. It brings us to places of answers although the path was only strewn with questions.
     We often think of spiritual aspects of our lives as if it was only mist, vapor and wind. Anything which is not made of atoms- as we know them- must be relegated to the unknown, unseen and intangible. This is our world as we see it. As we read further in this chapter in Hebrews we are given examples such as Noah who was mocked while he was building the ark. Abraham wandered around with an enlarged family for many years because they were looking for a city already built, not quite understanding that they had indeed arrived and had taken possession but had not laid down the roots. Sarah conceived and bore a child when she was way past normal child bearing years and could not help but laugh when she realized what was happening. Joshua and Israel marched around the city of Jericho six times in six days and seven times on the seventh day, blowing trumpets and shofars. Along with the thirteenth encircling, they all shouted together and watched the thick curtain walls of the city literally tumble down. Without attacking this citadel to bring it down, they merely obeyed Joshua's instructions which were given to him by God. These are clear acts of biblical faith and there are many more instances, along the same lines, throughout old testament history concerning strong faith.
     No other verse in the bible is so succinct as a definition of faith because it refutes our common sensibilities and asks us to believe despite how our physical realm persuades our minds. To the natural mind of man it is easier to doubt than to have faith but we all operate with a certain level of faith or we would not get out of our beds in the morning. There is common faith spoken of in Romans 12:3 but the verse above calls us to greater faith. In its highest and truest form it builds our spiritual character in such a way that we can exceed even our own expectations of ourselves in living a victorious Godly life. One does not have to be tested to build their faith in this way. They only have to be willing to put away their worldly attitudes and motivations and step into the realm of attaining possibilities.
     Conversely, such great faith will not go untested because the natural life we live concurrently makes trials, hardships and even tragedy inevitable. A common error among the faithful is to assume that when you're suffering illness or experiencing seeming insurmountable difficulties that your faith is flagging. However, we need such strength to endure those times and eventually come through in the same way that strong faith helps us escape trouble altogether. Some may be delivered from death while others are enabled to die victoriously. After all, great faith involves a belief in a better place in the hereafter. 
     Jesus felt that even small amounts of faith were enough to move mountains ( Matthew 17:20) which alluded to endless possibilities. When faith is released into God's hands through prayer it galvanizes your faith into bonafide miracles. He becomes our source of growth and possibility because nothing is impossible to Him. Through the act of prayer and faith in those prayers our perspective becomes focused into a Godly perspective and our faith grows in proportion to that measure. The miraculous intervention itself is not the builder of faith but the prayer, which is in line with the Word of God, will build a momentous faith within yourself. Not only that, but the most wonderful payoff is that anyone who witnesses you using your faith and seeing miracles has a tremendous opportunity to live a life of faith, as well. Your children, family and co-workers will want to live a faithful life when they see it in action. Romans 10:17, James 2:17 & 18,  1 Tim 3:9 
The Castle Lady
Faith goes beyond reason. It goes beyond what you can see.
But it is as real as anything you can touch or feel.
- Henry Cloud