What if it’s God standing in the way?

There was this flight attendant who usually took a flight from Boston to Los Angeles in September. This particular time when she was scheduling her flights, she accidentally inverted two code numbers and wound up with the wrong schedule. She managed to trade flights with other attendants for all her trips — except for Flight 175 on 9/11. The night before, she tried to log into the system to change the flight, but the computer froze and by the time it processed, it was passed the deadline. In a CNN article, she says, “I was not happy that I was not on that flight. I was driving to work steamed.” The flight she so eagerly wanted to be on was one of the ones that crashed into the towers on 9/11. When her coworkers found out she wasn’t on the flight, one of them said, “God has a plan for you. You were meant to be here.”

What if it’s God standing in the way?

In the Bible, Numbers 22, there’s a story about Balaam and his donkey. To make a long story short, Balaam was tempted by King Balak to come and curse the children of Israel. Balaam consulted God who told him to leave the people alone, Balak would send messengers with an even bigger temptation, changing Balaam’s heart against God. So, God tells him to go. In his going, Balaam would put opposition between him and God. Numbers 22:22 says, “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.”

Balaam was so blinded by sin that he couldn’t see the angel of the Lord standing in the way, but the donkey could. You know what Balaam did, each time the donkey delayed his impending death, he beat him. He never once took time to see if there was anything wrong with the donkey because he was eager, by temptation, to get to sin. And some of us have been there. You don’t have to admit it, but there’s been times we’ve been so entangled with sin and captivated by temptation that we’d admittedly lie to momma, break traffic laws, and go against what we know is right just to get to sin. All while cursing the delay that could save our life.

Yet, even when we’ve made God our adversary, He’ll still send a delay to spare out lives, if we’re willing to see it. This is why I asked, What if it’s God standing in the way?

Let me ask it this way. Biblically, a donkey is called an ass. A female donkey is called a she-ass. In this passage, verse 27 says, “And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam.” What if falling on your ass saved you? What if the layoff saved you from working at a place that’ll test your sanity every day of the week? What if the failing business was God standing in the way, saving you from putting money into a building that’ll cost you more than it’s worth? What if God allowed the contract to fall through because you were getting in bed with the enemy, although you couldn’t see it? The relationship you thought was love was lust dressed up and smelling good, so God let them walk away to save you from years of heartache.

What if the fall wasn’t punishment but placement in a position to be chosen? What if the fall that crippled you, is also the thing that changes you? What if the thing that hurts you also hides you until God honors you? What if the fall that caused jail time is the thing God is going to use to propel you to purpose? What if the bad decisions that put you in a desolate place is the very place, you’ll hear God calling your name? What if the fall turns into your testimony to save others?

Balaam didn’t see God until the ass fell. Some of us, God is literally blocking our path and we’re still doing everything to get through. Balaam was run into a field, had his foot crushed against a wall and still he was eagerly trying to get to evil. The donkey laid down then started talking, and Balaam was too blinded by temptation to recognize his life was being spared. And that’s some of us. Still fighting when we ought to be thanking God for blocking what should have killed us, what wasn’t for us, for severing what we didn’t have the strength to end and for standing in the way when we were too drunk off sin to see the danger in our actions.

Some of us ought to be praying, “God, thank you for standing in my way because you stopped me from chasing what has the power to crush me. Thank you for standing in my way because I was headed to revive what you’ve been telling me to let die. God, thank you for standing in my way because I couldn’t see it was me causing the problem. God, thank you for standing in my way, freeing me from inflicting the wounds. God, thank you for standing in my way because your standing, saved me.”

This Memorial Day

This Memorial Day may bring somber memories of loved ones who’ve passed away. Your heart may be broken all over again as the thoughts of servicemen and women who have served this country wholeheartedly and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life weigh heavy on your mind. You may be burdened with grief and tears, finding it hard to face the reality of a tombstone at the gravesite bearing the name of your child, spouse, parent, sibling, or family member. Or maybe it’s a fresh wound of death which just happened recently.

But don’t lose hope.

Will you allow the memory of your loved one to carry you through? Will you remember the memories instead of allowing the ache to take your joy? On this Memorial Day, will you remember the good even though the empty chair hurts to look at?

Why? Because your loved one is now resting with God who promised to receive them, at death. I know this because Bible tells me in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

It doesn’t make the pain any less, I know, but I just believe they’d want you to happily remember them. And I pray this Memorial Day will bring you peace.

Let us pray …

Our Father, whose name is Holy and worthy to be praised. I know sometimes we aren’t worthy of asking yet you still provide, forgive, and bless us. Thank you for loving us even when we’re too selfish to love others. Thank you for covering us even in our mess. Thank you, God, for paying a debt we’d never be able to repay.

Now, I petition your throne for me and the mother who doesn’t think you’re hearing her prayer, the daddy who’s been away from you and afraid to call your name, the sister who’s in pain and can’t get a word out, the brother who’s struggling just to live, the pastor who pressing but feels it’s in vain and the person who’s contemplating suicide because it hurts too much to live. Help, God.

For those grieving from loss, hear their cry and comfort, God. For the communities affected by senseless violence, strengthen God. For those with governmental power who willfully ignore the plight of this land, deal with them swiftly. God, raise a people who will cry aloud and spare not. God, raise a people who truly desire to serve and not just satisfy personal agendas.

God, let Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us daily bread to strengthen our weak places. Then, oh God forgive us for the daily sins keeping us from being like you, the faults we so blindly hold on to, the hate we’ve carried for years, and the debt consuming our lives.

God, don’t allow us to fall into temptation. Deliver us from the hands, mouths, and arms of the evil ones who have us trapped by fear and lies. Set us free from the things that keep us from you. Destroy chains of circumstances, the bondage of burdens, handcuffs of hatred, shackles of self-doubt, and governing generational curses. Cast out sickness and disease, sexual and spousal abuse, and addictions. You said if your people who are called by your name would humble themselves, seek your face and turn from their wicked ways; you’d come and see about us.

Well, here I am asking you to come and see about your children. Our cities need you, the killings have to stop, the police brutality and killings have to cease, and the burying of our children has to end. We need you, Father for yours is the kingdom and you are the power and the glory, forever.

Amen.

Is it expired?

Do you use spoiled milk? Do you use old oil in your car’s motor? Will you eat or feed your family molded meat? Do old batteries still operate the remote? Will the resident manager allow you to stay in an apartment whose lease has expired?

Then why are you trying to force something to work that’s beyond its expiration? The car, job, relationship, assignment, apartment/house, church, business, etc. Baby, if it ain’t working, if it can’t be repaired or its value is less than what you’re putting in … it may be time to call time of death. Here’s the part that may hurt to read. You CANNOT force something that no longer has the potential to be or do what you need.

It’s like this old charging cord I used to have for my phone. It was old, old. I mean, child, it was so old most of the protective coating had worn off, the wires were exposed and the only way it’d work, I had to lay it a certain way. Yet, I was trusting that cord. Until one day when I really needed it and it didn’t work. Talk about heartbroken. Yet, it wasn’t the cord’s fault, it was mine.

See, the cord had done what it was supposed to, I was the one having a hard time letting it go. And it’s not like I couldn’t get a new one, I was simply comfortable and I can admit, lazy. Until I was forced to get off my butt when in a predicament the cord couldn’t help with. Some of you, you’ve been in my shoes. Holding on to people and things way past the expiration because you’re comfortable and/or too lazy to change.

How’s that working for you?

I get it. Who wants to start over when it’s hard, scary, and time-consuming? Who wants to start over when you’ve put all this time into “this/that?” On the flip side, who wants to find themselves in a situation, stranded with no help? Yes, starting over is hard, but it can also be the peace and new beginning you’ve been praying for. Sure, it’s going to hurt, you may shed a few tears, have to process the reality of it ending, and even grieve but baby the healing that happens on the other side is worth it.

Ask yourself today, is what I’m looking at expired or is it still beneficial to my health?

Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!

I don’t know who needs to hear this but getting up is going to be one of the hardest things you’ll have to do today. Somebody, once you get up you have to deal with the funeral arrangements, hurt and grief of losing a loved one. Somebody else, getting up means having to face the reality of the relationship ending. Somebody else, getting up means looking at the debt that didn’t disappear while you tossed and turned last night. Somebody else, it’s another day of sickness that won’t leave you alone. Somebody else, it’s the spiritual war you’ve been fighting or the call on your life you’ve tried to ignore. Somebody else, it’s this or that but you have to get up.

Yes, it hurts but getting up is necessary to your survival. You don’t have to believe me, but have you ever had to get up after surgery while pain coursed through your body? Do you remember how much it hurt while the doctor and/or nurses told you how essential it was to your healing? See, doctors need you to move, even while in pain to prevent blood clots, to reduce swelling, decrease gas pain and weakness and it’s good for your lungs.

Getting up is hard and it hurts, but walking promotes the flow of oxygen throughout your body, it sustains normal breathing function, it strengthens your muscle tone, and it reminds you that you’re alive. Being alive means there’s still a remnant of hope for you to hold onto. When Jesus met the man at the pool of Bethesda who couldn’t get himself into the water to be healed, He told Him, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” because although this man’s faith played a part, his healing came by getting up.

Why am I sharing this? For somebody who dreaded getting up today. Ma’am/sir, I don’t know what you have to face today, but I pray your strength to get up even if it causes pain to course through your body. Ma’am/sir, I don’t know what you’re trying to avoid but get up because it’s not going away on its own. Get up, it’s the only way you can deal with it. Ma’am/sir, get up even while it hurts because it’s necessary to your healing. And while you get up, I’m going to pray your faith doesn’t fail.