When things are going our way, change is often unwelcome. The way it’s always been is the way we hope it will always be.
When we are in pain, change can’t come fast enough.
I know God is faithful because He has been faithful to me in the past. I know He can be trusted to keep His promises because I have seen promises fulfilled. I know I hear His voice for what He has spoken to me has come to pass time and time again.
I know He forgives, for I have fallen and been picked back up.
Repeated experiences with God build faith in Him. That is why the tyrants of evil holding Dzhokhar do not frighten me; I have seen how big my God is. I have known His protection and His deliverance first-hand.
The day will come when Dzhokhar tells us his story of how he, too, came to know God as Protector and Deliverer. And it will be some story! We already know part of it – the events that began in the streets of Watertown and ended on the ground beside a dry-docked boat.
It is one thing to read about those events as a factual recounting, but to hear Dzhokhar tell the story after God reveals to him in detail all that transpired in the unseen to save his life in those desperate moments… well, to be honest, I can’t even finish the sentence for thinking about the awe we will experience… The room will be silent, he will speak – and the tears will fall…
I have no doubt that, as he recounts stories about which we know nothing at this point, some who are listening will be suddenly aware that they were praying for Dzhokhar at the exact moment he needed it most. God sees all, and He knows just how and when to communicate that one of His own is in need.
I am convinced the reason God allows some painful things to happen in our lives is precisely to show us how able and willing He is to comfort and deliver. He knows the future while we do not. He knows what is coming in our lives – that we will need that knowledge for bigger, more painful things down the road. He knows how to prepare us for them. Thankfully, He is a loving and gentle God, so He starts small when we are weak and new at this thing called “Trusting Him.”
I want to share two stories that happened to me long, long ago. In the comprehensive story of my life, these come under the heading of “Preparing Lynn to Fight for Dzhokhar – Phase I.”
Both events happened over twenty years ago, before Dzhokhar was even born… something else to think about…
These two stories are what David, who killed Goliath, would have called “lion and bear stories.” After I tell you the stories I’ll explain what I mean by that, though some of you likely already know.
Story #1 Carly (Name has been changed)
I have always asked lots of questions. That is how I learn. I have always learned a little slower than some but once I know something, I am better at it than almost anyone else. You either love or hate that about me. I haven’t decided how I feel about that trait so it is what it is … I guess.
I was working in a call center for the first time in my life, in an industry about which I knew almost nothing. The learning curve was steep and I was frustrated. I was in a hurry, like I always am, to get to the part where I would be “better at it” than anyone else.
We worked in teams and my team lead was more than a little frustrated with me too, but not for the reason you might think.
Carly was one of those people who got where she was by “kissing up” to the right people. All my questions threatened to expose the fact that she knew almost nothing about the job. I, of course, had no way of knowing this. I was just trying my best to learn.
I thought my co-workers liked me. I had no idea how wrong I was about most of them.
In a dog fight, all the little dogs that stand around watching will side with the dog they think is going to win. In this contest, everyone thought that dog was Carly. They too had no idea how wrong they were.
When one person on my team broke ranks with the pack, called me at home and told me how the team laughed at me and privately commiserated with Carly for having to be the one who got me for a team member, I was shocked. This informant was not being cruel. It bothered him to see me being so nice to people who were so undeserving of my kindness.
When he told me the team had even given the lead a sympathy card, signed by all but me (of course) and baked her a cake (they had told me it was a celebration of something else so I would join in but not suspect a thing) the pain I felt was excruciating. No one likes to feel like a fool.
When the judge forced Dzhokhar to join the court and stand in “honor” of the jury that had just voted to end his life, I can tell you – that one act by the judge got God’s attention and aroused His anger in a way that was different than all the other indignities and injustices visited upon Dzhokhar up to that point. When my teammates conspired to buy a sympathy card and bake a cake for our lead to “comfort” her for having to have me on her team, God had the same reaction… He saw and He was not pleased and in His time and His way, He responded.
“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
“Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
And God was indeed faithful to pay Carly back: She was promoted to head trainer of the entire call center. Her promotion was announced in a center-wide meeting with much fanfare and applause.
Driving home that afternoon I was ready to spit nails… and turn my back on God. I was hurt, victimized all over again. Stunned and silent, I felt like God cared nothing at all about my pain.
And then God, in his wisdom and gentleness, actually spoke to me, telling me something He did not have to tell me. He could have left me in the dark. He could have let me stew in my own juice, so-to-speak, until I apologized and made the grown-up decision to trust Him even when I didn’t understand.
But He didn’t… He knew I wasn’t there yet. So He told me what He was up to with Carly and that made all the difference. Here is what He said:
“I didn’t promote Carly to bless her; I promoted her to expose her.”
Oops… Hey God can I take back all that stuff I just said?
I think we’ve all had moments of blaming God only to find out later how much more wonderful His plan was to fix things than anything we could have devised.
Those are the moments God builds on. It took more than one more incident like this to get me to the point where I could say “I don’t understand this and I am in terrible pain, but I know You – so I trust You anyway. If You want to explain to me why this had to happen, I would sure appreciate it. If You don’t – I am going to trust You and stick with You just the same.”
See, I finally realized that’s the place He wants us all to reach. When unshakeable trust in God gets down on the inside of you, there is nothing more the devil, the ultimate enemy, can do that moves you the way it once did. He’s finished and he knows it. He may buzz around like a gnat in your face, but he will never be the big scary monster he once seemed to be.
And when you reach that place feds, judges, prosecutors, even governments just don’t look so big and powerful anymore. They look like what they are: mere mortal men who are subject to the will of Almighty God – just like you and me.
Carly, who didn’t know enough to be a team lead… was now the head trainer. God said He caused her promotion in order to expose her and expose her He did. You can’t fake it as a trainer. You either know your stuff or you don’t.
By the time I left the company, Carly was the company joke – and I was known for superior performance and honored many times over for my job knowledge.
Sometimes the little dog wins.
Story #2 – Shelley (Name has been changed.)
Once upon a time there was an office and an office manager who could not keep an assistant for very long. That’s because the office manager, to put it bluntly, was a very nasty and abusive … individual (OK so I won’t be that blunt.)
I was assistant number seven. I lasted longer than all the others and the rest of the office staff liked me and had hopes that I would stay.
They knew what I was up against.
This woman had been the office manager for years. Her appearance and skills were impeccable. She was worth keeping – if you could ignore her abrasive and controlling personality.
I watched in awe as she mouthed off to whomever she chose: President of the company, Vice President… it didn’t matter. She felt indispensable due to her performance and for years that is how it was. Therefore, assistants came – and went… until they hired me.
When I, too, finally reached my breaking point, I went to the manager of human resources and gave him my notice. Though he knew full well what my reason was for wanting to leave, he insisted we talk about it.
He really did not want to lose me. I had become good at the job and was so likeable. He did not want this revolving door to keep revolving so he asked me to sleep on it.
I agreed and left for the day. Unbeknownst to me, he then had a meeting with Shelley and told her all I had said. That is when Shelley saw her opportunity to be rid of me once and for all.
Shelley, once attacked by the HR manager, counter-attacked. Instead of denying all the charges, she simply said “Well obviously you believe Lynn or you wouldn’t even be talking to me so I will just quit.”
Shelley knew in a contest between the two of us, the company would never choose me over her. Her skills and experience were just too superior to mine. She was right about that.
Now the HR manager had a problem. He had not spoken with me yet the next day to ask if I had reconsidered and decided to stay or was still intent on leaving. After speaking with Shelley, his next stop was the Vice President’s office.
It was about a half hour until the end of the day. I was sitting at my desk waiting and wondering when the HR manager would call me in to ask for my decision.
My heart was pounding, my mouth was dry, my hands were shaking…
Once in his office, in answer to his question, I told him I had decided to stay. He said OK and I left, returning to my desk only to see Shelley cleaning out hers in stony silence. You could have cut the tension with a knife.
She left that day without a word or a glance in my direction. Within two weeks the two women who supported her gave notice and quit. Both were also long-time employees with skills.
Sometimes the little dog wins a second time.
I would not find out what had happened for months. When I did find out, it was straight from the mouth of the Vice President in a private and completely unexpected conversation.
I never told anyone else in the office that I knew why Shelley was suddenly gone. Some knowledge is just too special and is best when savored alone…
The day that the HR manager went to the Vice President with news that both I and Shelley had given our notice was the same day that Shelley had mouthed off at the Vice President for the 2,356th time. The other 2,355 times he had been willing to overlook. This time he was not in a forgiving mood. When Donald asked him what to do he responded “Shelley is out of here TODAY. No two-week notice – TODAY!”
I have no idea how or when God will repay those involved in what has happened to the Tsarnaevs. I only know He will repay and I wouldn’t want to be one of the ones on the receiving end of his wrath for all the tea in China.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 16-17
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. And I saw something else under the sun: in the place of judgment – wickedness was there, in the place of justice – wickedness was there. I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
When David walked onto the battlefield, Goliath shouted the same threats and obscenities that had the soldiers on the sidelines shaking in their armor.
David came armed with nothing more than his slingshot. He shouted back to the giant “I have killed a lion and a bear and I’m going to kill you too – you uncircumcised Philistine!”
Each battle we face builds upon the last. And the battles get bigger, longer and more difficult as we get stronger and stronger. This is how God builds a warrior: like David, you learn first how you to kill lions and bears, which is no small accomplishment. Then, in time, you become a killer of giants…
God skips no steps when it comes to preparation. Right now, whoever is chosen to play David against Dzhokhar’s Goliath is out there somewhere – winning battles against Carlys and Shelleys, lions and bears…
And then it will be time.
Don’t you just love a good underdog story?