But God

But GodThe best stories always have a turning point, a place in them where no matter what direction the story is heading in, a twist suddenly appears shifting matters toward a greater victory, a more desirable outcome, a happier ending. As endearing as these turning points are in fictional works, they are even more endearing in our every day lives. And the greatest author of life’s turning points is God. He has orchestrated what I call, “But God” moments through out all time. They are moments we can look back at and see the underdog win… see the heartbreaking injustices of life redeemed and restored.

In one of my favorite “But God” verses, Genesis 50:20, Joseph had a chance to address his brothers who had sold him into slavery at an earlier stage of his life. Their act of jealousy had lead to his wrongful imprisonment due to a false accusation. Years of his life were spent there waiting on God to rescue him and bring to pass what he had revealed to him about his future.  You would think, after all Joseph went through, that when the moment of confrontation came with his brothers he’d have told them off, or he’d gloat over the fact that God used his circumstances to raise him to a position of being in charge of Egypt. Instead, when the time came for him to speak to his brothers about the matter, he brought closure and healing by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Joseph’s story ended up how God intended all along. Nothing could have stopped God’s plan for his life. While the course might not have been ideal or easy to walk out, Joseph trusted God all along the way. He trusted him at every twist and turn, and when victory came and he was vindicated, redeemed, and elevated to a position of power and influence, he gave all glory to God, recognizing only He could orchestrate such an amazing victory.

What “But God” moments has God brought in your life? It’s good to pause occasionally and take an inventory of all the ways God has brought victory and celebrate them, giving thanks. It’s what we see the Israelites do again and again in the Old Testament when they pause to remember all the ways God protected them, rescued them, and moved on their behalf. They wrote songs and poems about their “But God” moments, and they passed the stories down to their children and children’s children for generations, so they would know the real, amazing love of our almighty God.

There is power in remembering these treasured times of redemption where we see God’s handiwork in making wrongs right. If you are in the midst of a struggling time, trust that a “But God” moment is on the way, and if you have just made it through one, then pause to give God praise for what He has done…. And pass it on.

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Take Heart!

We never really know what each day holds. As Christians, when we step out, we have faith that no matter what comes our way, God is able to give us the strength, wisdom and ability to handle it. We also hold to the promise that He will be our ever present help in times of need(Ps46). David and I were reminded of this just recently as we set out for our long summer vacation in Colorado. We make this trip about twice a year, by car, and we don’t normally have any challenges along the way. However, this trip proved to be something different, entirely!

It all started just a few hours north of Fort Worth. I was driving, David was sleeping, and the kids were so plugged in to their electronics in the back of the van, they had no idea what was going on around them. I was driving about 75 mph, with an 18 wheeler to my right, a guard rail to my left, and a car not far behind me, when seemingly out of no where a huge tire casing appeared in my lane. I had about 3 seconds to make a decision…unable to go left or right, and unable to slow down quickly due to the car at my rear, I decided to aim the van straight at the tire casing and straddle it with my tires. The tire fragment went under the car, and as it did, it slammed against the bottom of the van. As I drove on all appeared fine, so I kept driving.

An hour or so further down the road, we stopped at a gas station to stretch our legs. David went inside, and when he came back out, he asked, “Amy, did you hit something in the road when you were driving?” I tilted my head and said, “Why do you ask?” He said, “Babe, the bumper is about to fall off the car.” Sure enough, I looked back and was surprised to see the bumper hanging down, nearly to the ground. When the tire had hit under the car, all the underside bumper pins had snapped and were unable to sit on the bolts meant to hold it up. Needing a quick solution, with no auto shops in site, we went for the universal fix all – duck tape and zip ties. We rigged up the bumper and kept driving.

 A few more hours later, while David was driving, he ran over perhaps the only live armadillo I’ve ever seen on a Texas road. It also slammed under the car, so we stopped and looked – the bumper was still on. So on we went until 6:00 am, when we stopped in a small Colorado mountain town to switch drivers. We were just a few hours from our destination. As we slowed, we heard a thump, thump, thump sound from beneath the car. Sure enough, we had a flat tire. I’m talking, rim on the ground, totally flat tire! I was half awake, groggy from sleeping in the car, and all I could think about was how much I wanted a cup of coffee. As we pulled off the road to put the spare on, I glanced across the street, and like a vision from heaven I saw a small, local coffee shop sitting on the corner. The open sign was soon placed in the window and I was blessed with one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. A sweet, Christian woman ran the place and scripture signs decorated the wall. I knew it was a God touch in the midst of an eventful journey, and I couldn’t help but thank Him for his kindness.

You could say our journey was quite an adventure – one we have laughed at many times, both during the trip and after. But it was also an example of what life is like; we go along our way and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, obstacles and challenges appear. It makes me think of Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.”… then comes the hope instilling second part of that verse, when Jesus said,” But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

As Jesus’ words remind us, we are never promised a problem free journey in this life. And when the tough times come we have a choice… Are we going to focus on the struggles and challenges, or are we going to focus on God and His provision in the midst of them? Focusing on God fills us with hope, courage, and strength for the journey; joy that transcends any challenges that may come our way; and grace to handle any situation.

If you are facing any struggles today, I would love to encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus; look for His love and grace in the midst of the journey. And as you do, I pray you are reminded of God’s power, provision and peace; and that you are filled with hope and joy to overflowing.  

Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved