This week is the 'In-between' week of the whole year, like when we see the odometer in our cars, with all the nines lining up, before they turn over to zero.
Here are seven things, seven stories, seven gifts that God gave me over this past week:
1. I got trapped and rescued.
On Christmas eve, eve, eve (three days before Christmas); I got stuck and rescued. I got stuck in an elevator at work. I was reticent to press the red alarm button. I was alone and had my phone. There were no 'bars' for cell phone reception. But I was able to connect to wi-fi and write an email.
I wrote an email I have never written before, saying, "I am trapped". I wrote to three ladies I had just seen in the office. And I wrote to my boss, who is off-site, asking if he could call security.
When one of the ladies in the office saw my email, she came out and alerted the security lady, who did whatever they do to make the elevator door open. And I got out. The little ordeal was probably less than 10 minutes.
The security people asked why I did not press the red alarm button. I did not want to cause a fuss, but paradoxically, I needed to in order to alert the authority that I had a problem. I chose to do the emailing first. And if I did not have my phone or had other passengers with me, I would have pressed the red button.
My ordeal of being stuck made me ask for help. I am a person that does not ask for help as much as some people. I try to get myself out of the fixes that I find myself in. But I know that God likes people to help people.
I had a mentor years ago that introduced me to that story where the man is on the roof of his house during a flood and refuses to be rescued. He keeps telling various human rescuers that he is praying to God for his rescue. The irony of that story is that perhaps God kept answering his prayer, but he rejected the help God sent.
My being trapped was humiliating, because I could not rescue myself. I was in prayer and the elevator did not miraculously open. I needed people, these particular women, to get me out.
The tools I had were myself, the red button and my cell phone using available wi-fi. The provision was those ladies who helped me.
At about 7 pm, I left my work area and headed to the parking lot. Guess who was also in the hall heading for her car? It was the security lady who got me out of the elevator.
I greeted her by saying, "Hello my friend!" We chatted as we walked together to the parking lot. When we parted, I thanked her again.
2. Moving in the opposite spirit when burnout set in.
On Christmas eve-eve, two days before Christmas, I found myself to be in full burnout and exhaustion. I got all my work done. But my mind was fried and negativity came pouring in and I fell for it to a large extent.
Then, it was like my spirit came to the forefront and steered me, my body and soul in a positive direction. I began to move in the opposite of the negativity that the burnout induced in me.
In my slough of despair and in great weakness, I asked God to help me, and Holy Spirit came in my heart and turned the lights on. I still felt exhausted, in body and and mind, but I was strangely encouraged and did this thing called moving in the opposite spirit.
I actually laughed out loud at the negativity that tempted and grabbed me hours before. I had been beside myself and was delivered back into God's embrace and I had this joy from outside this world. I laughed at the false flags that the enemy had flown.
3. Agreeing in marriage together.
At the end of Christmas eve-eve, and into Christmas eve, my wife and I came into agreement. It began when I was experiencing moving in the opposite spirit and continued into the next day of Christmas eve.
I believe in unity, agreement, accord, harmony, concurrence and consensus. The harmony with my wife became and is so good, that I see that as my Christmas gift that I opened first, on Christmas eve, from Jesus.
We decided together, to go to church on Christmas eve. We discussed and researched and searched for churches in our region. The clock was ticking and we needed to get to wherever on time and squeeze dinner in.
I was going to do last minute shopping with my son, followed by McDonald's. Instead, we rushed to McD's for an early dinner, then all went to a Christmas eve service at our neighborhood church.
It was a nice service, with Christmas carols and readings. The older pastor gave an outstanding message to the children, sharing how Jesus came into his heart when he was a child of missionaries, in Brazil. And the younger pastor gave a succinct message about Mary and Joseph and Jesus' birth, accentuating the fact that they were refugees, and that God chose to be born into that very dangerous and chaotic time.
The service ended with candle light caroling outside, in my neighborhood.
4. Christmas morning.
On Christmas, I began waking up at 5 minutes before 5 am, and then my cat fully woke me, just before 5 am, as she was coughing a hair ball in the hall. I got up and there was my son. Then, my wife got up.
The plan had been that my son and I would sip coffee and wait for sunrise, and wake my wife at 5 till 7. But she decided to get up at 5 am and join us! I got some coffee, and we opened presents from 5 am to 6 am.
I video taped much of our openings and sent the two compilations of clips to our relatives in Virginia.
5. Meeting a special person and a lost and found story.
The most special thing that happened at our larger family gathering was meeting a special person, who is the special person in someone's life, who is a family member. This special person's love language seems to be gift giving and we thoroughly enjoyed giving and receiving from this special person. Her gift to my son might even be his favorite Christmas gift.
In the midst of this joy, she lost her car keys. We looked everywhere and I prayed. My mother in law searched through all the cushions and we discovered after some time that she lost her wedding rings in so doing. I got the idea that the keys were lost in the car, and that is where they ended up being; in a nook somewhere, even though it was a group of keys with a plastic remote attached.
And we found my wife's mom's rings, by flipping over the recliners and shaking them; that she had been plunging her fingers into, searching earlier.
6. 'Car trouble' help from a new friend.
I bought my current car new 12 years ago this week and it now has over 200,000 miles on it. I actually envisioned selling it when the odometer went past 100,000, thinking it would still be worth something and that would be before major problems began to strike.
Turns out that there have not really been major problems. Everything has been pretty routine, including putting in a new radiator about 18 months ago. Radiators wear out before engines and transmissions, usually; losing efficiency and becoming brittle.
Anyway, I have to do the bi-annual smog check and now is that time. My car had trouble with the computer port that they plug into, for the air data numbers. And the man who worked on my car went the third mile, to get the port to communicate and be able to pass my car.
When I saw him struggling, I prayed for him and for my car and the diagnostic equipment. He already had introduced himself, telling me he was from Jordan, at the beginning of the process. I had discerned through looking around, that he was a Christian, and I told him I prayed for him, and we had a great conversation when he was handing off the car back to me.
I was really thankful that my car was able to pass. And I was thankful for the happenstance meeting with this Godly Jordanian man. Years ago, when I was upset about a car problem, my friend advised me with saying, "It's just a car". True. Many other problems are far more serious.
I try to save money by doing all I can do to my cars. And I have to tell myself and am encouraged by my loved ones, that this is good, but I am free to pay others to work on them and Father is my provider, financially. We can take our cars in for maintenance, even to the dealership (sometimes called 'stealership'), where there prices are usually higher, and that is OK with God.
7. Christmastime reconciliation to my destiny.
I have this idea, on several fronts, that Christmastime is a time of reconciliation. The Christian letters come from old friends. We have people who were dear and near, in the past, who are now estranged from us and we do not even exchange cards.
We might get the idea to look up an old friend around this time of year, with all the feelings Christmas brings up. And that recalling of a past friendship might entail some reconciliation of myself to them or of myself now to the person I was with them, years ago.
Christmastime is also a time to reconcile the books on the past year. There is still time! Over two days, as I type this.
This has been a very hard and painful year, but also a good year in many ways. Some very important seasons ended in my life and in the lives of those I am closest to, as we lost two, who were our husbands, dads and grandpas.
This morning I did some exercising in writing down the negative stuff that comes up that I want to get reconciled right now and done, out, cleared and away by the 30th. The 31st is the day when it is transition between the two years.
Here is a non-comprehensive, sketch, 'bad list' of emotions I am personally wanting to process out, that is towards myself, and my life, which affects my relationship with God and who I am really meant to be, as in my destiny. If these were left undealt with, they would grow, fester, block and prevent me from being who God wants me to be and from coming into my calling, my destiny and receiving my inheritance:
- mistaken identity
And this is the list of the reality of who God is, to me. This is a list of who I really believe God is and want to live in believing that He is to me. This is the reality that I want to live in of God. And it is to this list that I am bing reconciled to live in. A side note is that I believe that I can feel any of those negative emotions listed above, but I do not want to live or stay there, in them, or draw life or my whole meaning from them. And most of all, I do not define God, based on those emotions. But I want every fiber of my being, my dna, to live in the reality of this list about God:
- God is good to me
- God is gracious to me
- God is kind to me
- God renews me
- God revives me
- God gives me rest
- God assigns and reassigns me
- God is generous to me
- God is always forgiving towards me
- God always shows me mercy
- God has been and continues to heal me
- God is always and continues to set me free
That is what I am being reconciled to as an act of my will and in the name of Jesus who is The Amen. Being reconciled to who God is and how he sees me is both a gift from God and from myself to God.