The Bible unequivocally states in Ephesians 1:11 that God,
“…works ALL THINGS after the counsel of His will.”
This simply means that in all things in the Christian’s life, and difficult as they may sometimes be, there is a Divine plot being carried out in the drama of our lives. It is there if we only look for it and ask the Lord to reveal it to us, no matter how favorable or unfavorable things might appear. Nothing is meaningless or purposeless in life, but is filled with the Divine dynamics of meaning and purpose. Even though so many folks view and live life from their stagnant couch-potato posture as they sit there like sacks of flour stirred and gripped by no sense of the Divine as they waste their lives watching sex and violence on TV.
And did you note the words in Ephesians 1:11,
Not some things! Not most things! Rather all things are energized by His Divine purpose and sovereign prerogative, even the loosest, most senseless and fickle appearing uncertainties of life, for there is not the slightest uncertainty with God. “ALL THINGS” means that God is managing the even most contingent affairs of our lives. If we don’t get this into and through our minds, we will deny gobs of the Bible and goof up our minds. ALL THINGS! Again I repeat – ALL THINGS!
Not only that, but Romans 8:28 assures us,
“And we know that God causes ALL THINGS to work together for
good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to His purpose.”
That awesome assurance belongs to no other people except to the lovers of God in this world. And because God loves us so much, He simply will not allow any bad loose ends to dangle in the winds of chance that could frustrate and trip up His good purposes for us. No matter how dark the circumstances might be, for God’s lovers God’s perfect light is shining into even the darkest corners. And in that providential light, our understandings, which otherwise are short, diminutive and contracted, can be comforted by the fact of the incredible, thrilling and good providence of God. That is the ongoing exhilaration of Christian living, though admittedly God is always several steps ahead of us, and as usual with God we always have plenty catching up to do.
My dear wife Ruthie and I were invited for Christmas dinner to my brother-in-law Ed and sister Virginia’s house in Ada, Michigan which is about an hour and a half from our home. Always a great time and a cherished tradition over the many Christmases come and gone! Of course we always eat too much, and in that lazy and puffy condition no departure for home is ever very prompt. You know how it is! I was stuffed with goodies, plus the fact that I have in my older years been given the gift of instant slumber if I sit still for more than sixty seconds after a hearty meal, no matter whose house I am feeding and sitting in.
I admit however that I have aged to the point in my life that I don’t like driving at night any more, especially in the winter. So eventually we forced ourselves to waddle out to the car and shoved off. Several miles into the return trip dusk was falling. I had turned on the car headlights, at least so I thought, when it dawned on me that I wasn’t seeing very well and that there was no glare of my headlights on the road ahead. Or was I still groggy from gluttony and my nap so that I wasn’t focusing well?
My suspicions were quickly confirmed as I turned off the road, stopped the car and got out to check on the headlights. Lo and behold, for no reason apparent to us, our car had suddenly become totally blind in both eyes. Then quickly comes the very uncomfortable feeling of being stranded in the middle of a dark ocean in a dinghy that is not at all seaworthy.
Furthermore, doesn’t this sort of thing only happen to other folks who you zoom by on the highways of life and think to yourselves, “My, my, I am so glad it isn’t us?” Well now, we were the people that others were zooming by and no doubt thinking to themselves, “Look at those poor buggers! So glad it isn’t us.” Have you ever been there?
By nature all men tend to be self-sufficient. It is that male ego thing. However, when push comes to shove there are zillions of things that I cannot on my own ever hope to do anything about. I had just bumped into another one of them alongside a now lonely and dark road. I am a complete ignoramus when it comes to mechanics and electronics. There I was with my wife and in front of her I was manifesting total stupidity, ineptitude, and weakness without a clue as to what to do except call road service on Christmas night. Not a very hopeful thought!
What are we going to do now? Of course, if all else fails, we could always turn to God and pray! You know, the last-resort God Who we only turn to in times of desperation. When are we ever going to finally learn to stop treating God like merely an extra pair of socks that we throw into the suitcase of life’s journeys for good measure?
He works all things! Whether it fits in with our theology or not, God has His ways of turning off the car lights for His purposes in our lives. We do serve a “Clap-On Clap-Off God!” Although, He doesn’t have to clap to get the job done! He can simply will it and it is so! The truth be known, He can turn any and every moment and any and every circumstance into a crisis whether we believe it or not, to teach and impress us upon the fact that He was not simply blowing smoke but really meant what He said as He states to us in John 15:5,
“…for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
I will even take it one step further and confess about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as born again University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy does on national TV,
“APART FROM HIM I AM NOTHING.”
How quickly strangling the naked fact can and often does become in our lives that there is not one necessity that we take for granted, or one enjoyment that we please ourselves with, but that it can be taken away from us by ten thousand failures or accidents. However with God there are no failures or accidents for He has every situation well in hand! God is a very sovereign, versatile teacher and impressor!
I mean, who knows what a day, what an hour, or what a minute may bring forth? And there I was facing something that was a million miles beyond my mere mortal power to foresee, prevent or correct. The truth is:
“THERE IS NOT ONE VALID OR SANE REASON TO BE CONFIDENT
IN LIFE APART FROM HIM WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS,
CONTROLS ALL THINGS, CAN DO ALL THINGS,
AND THEREFORE CAN NEITHER BE SUR-
PRISED OR LOSE CONTROL OF
THE ROADSIDE PRAYER SERVICE
I went back into the car defeated and fatalistic, and my discerning wife who knows me better than I know me could sense despondency coming into the car with me. Yes with me, the pastor/evangelist of 44 years who proclaimed trust and confidence in God. I must ashamedly confess that the atmosphere in the car brought in by my return didn’t exactly become “electric” with “faith.”
The car wasn’t the only one with no light shining from its eyes. I am loathe to confess that there was plenty of self-pity oozing out of me as well as a touch of a temper-tantrum. Then like a spoiled brat I spoke those unoriginal, threadbare words, “Why us and why here for crying out loud?” Of course, you have never even come close to thinking thoughts like that let alone speaking words like that! The truth about what we really are like on the inside surely has a way of rising up, doesn’t it, in times of pressing adversity.
My faith-filled and faithful wife then quickly and firmly took me by the hand and spoke into me the words of Psalm 46:1,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help
in time of trouble.”
I have an awesomely good and godly wife who is always ready with a song of praise to God, or a word of comfort from the Lord, and most of the time both. How often God has so wonderfully calmed me through my precious “Help-Meet!”
It is powerful to note that when God said in 2:18,
“It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him
a HELPER SUITABLE for him,”
the word HELPER is the Hebrew word EZER. We find most significantly the same noun EZER used in Psalm 121:1-2 about God,
“I will live up my eyes to the mountains, from whence
cometh my HELP-EZER?”
“My HELP-EZER cometh from the Lord, Who made
heaven and earth.”
This is awesome! This puts our wives in a very elite position! This puts them in the very exclusive EZER category! EZERS LIKE GOD! How does that grab us, husbands? Wow! As far a human beings are concerned, our EZERS are the closest ones to being GOD-EZER-LIKE that we will ever meet!
Let me tell you, it is the most precious gift in the world to have a wife who when she touches you, speaks to you or prays for you, it is the calming hand and voice of God. I repeat, our godly EZERS are truly the closest human reality to God that we as husbands have in our lives. Never forget it and never stop thanking God for her!
In short, we are just about as helpless without our wives as we are without God. Shazaam! Think about it! And we take our EZERS-WIVES for granted just like we take our EZER-GOD for granted.
Then she spoke into me, or should I say called up within me words from the heart of God that had now become buried under tons of angst,
“CASTING ALL YOUR CARE UPON HIM FOR HE
CARETH FOR YOU.” (I Peter 5:7 KJV)
The next thing I knew she had fastened her grip tightly on my hand and away she went literally carrying me to the Throne of Grace. She is no stranger there, I tell you! She spends more time there than she does with me, even when she is with me physically. And as she prayed, I felt God gently begin to compose my chaotic and anguished mind and encourage my sullen spirit.
Ruth knows that I am not an easy fix! She has learned over the years not only to cast her cares upon the Lord, but to cast me there as well. She is a seasoned wife in the Lord who has learned also that to calm me with her own words and by her own strength is about as futile as trying to catch and calm an alley tomcat that has that fierce independence which cats cherish.
Okay, I might just as well admit it to you. Speaking of cats which I really don’t like, maybe because they remind me of me, when the car’s blindness was first discovered, I was like a trapped, panicking black cat robbed of its exit. Frankly, left to ourselves in distressful and unfavorable times, we all have the potential of become hellcats. How many times have you had those unpleasant experiences and exercises in self-hellcat-discovery? But now, as had happened so many times before, my senior pastor named Ruth ministered faith and peace into my troubled mind and heart.
It wasn’t long but that God and Ruth, EZER AND EZER, had me actually beginning to faintly purr. Faith began to replace fatalism in my soul. That was the first Christmas night miracle! Now I actually was lifting up my head which before only drooped.
When my EZER had finished asking our EZER for help, something happened in me that I know now was totally from the Holy Spirit. It surely didn’t come from me. “Honey,” I said, “You keep on praying, and I am going to go out there, lift up the car hood and lay my hands on those blind headlights and ask the Lord to heal their blindness. Honey, I don’t know what else to do.” Those were the best and truest words that I had spoken all night!
Being a pentecostal preacher, I thought to myself that if we can lay hands on the sick and they shall recover according to Mark 16:18, then surely I can lay my hands on sick headlights and they shall recover too. Look folks, it is often and only when we are brought down to our nothingness that we are willing to make God our everythingness and do anything that He tells us to do! Listen:
“GOD MUST LEAD US WAY DOWN THE ROAD OF OUR OWN
UTTER INABILITY AT TIMES, AND THAT AGAIN AND
AGAIN, BEFORE WE WILL LEARN TO UTTERLY
THROW OURSELVES UPON HIS
So that is what I did. I popped the hood, and like some Pentecostal fanatic (as many would call me), I laid my hands on the sick – sick car lights that is and prayed for healing in the name of Jesus as my wife continued to pray in the car. There I was, stripped of all self-sufficiency, as only God knows how to bring us past our pretense of trust to true faith and obedience. It happens when we are stripped of all natural and human support, and everything this side of Heaven is frowning very darkly and hopelessly upon us. Now we are ready for a miracle that will bring glory to God alone.
The headlight cavities were very cold, but I laid my hands on the headlight mechanisms nonetheless. First, I laid my hands on the driver’s side headlight area and prayed. Ruth kept the headlight switch on in the car, but as I prayed for headlight #1 there was no light.
There are only two headlights and I remember thinking that now my chances for a miracle had been cut by 50%. How fleshly we are even in our most spiritual moments. As if God ever runs out of options, chances or opportunities! Shame on me! How terribly embarrassing, for with God He knows our thoughts even before we think them, and we can’t keep any thoughts to ourselves! As we read in I John 3:20,
“…for God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things.”
After waiting for a moment, I went to headlight #2 on the passenger’s side and laid my hands on the mechanism and prayed. Before I could complete my prayer, headlight #2 came on as I was praying. I know it did, because I was peeking as I prayed.
Yes I admit, I was peeking! Walking by sight and faith at the same time! One might say that this proved that I was praying with anticipation which was a good thing. The truth be known, I was still walking by sight in disobedience to the Word of God, as if my observation as well as my faith were required for God to get the job done right. You know, kind of like a foreman keeping my eye on the project to supervise the proceedings. I am deeply grateful that God didn’t then and there blind me too so that I could only focus on Him. Everything that God births within me rarely comes willingly or easily, but most of the time it comes by cesarean section. I do most everything the hard way.
Nonetheless, God is so merciful as He has miraclelized our lives again and again to this very day. Furthermore, as we read in II Timothy 2:13 which is the story of my life,
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful; for He cannot
The passenger-side headlight miraculously was lit up by the Lord and my wife saw it as it brightly lit up my clothing. I could hear her celebrating in the car and shouting, “Praise the Lord!” We followed that light that Christmas night as if it were Jesus Himself Who was illuminating our way home. What a celebration as every mile was a miracle mile of thanksgiving to God for what to us was an “Oh So Holy Light” on an “Oh So Holy Christmas Night.”
Yes, I know full well that there are those who react to stories such as this with an incredulous and even judgmental spirit. Oh my, just another couple of emotionally-affected nuts out to make a name for themselves. After all, the world is full of religious screwballs.
The same disbelief and scorn is directed at those who have near-death experiences which I felt along that highway I was having. You have heard about such things, haven’t you? What has been your reaction? Let’s suppose that during the course of a serious operation or a massive heart attack, your heart quits beating. You feel your spirit, the true you, leaving your body and hovering above the operating room. You hear the doctor say, “He’s gone,” or “She’s gone.” You then see a bright light ahead of you, and you see Jesus standing in all of His glory. You hear the voices of loved ones and the praises to God of innumerable glorified saints and angels the sound of which transcends anything you have ever heard before.
But wait, the sights and sounds are fading. And the next thing you know the doctor is resuscitating you, and you are alive and back in the comparatively drab and bleak environment of earth. And you assure your family and friends that you will never fear death again for Jesus, Heaven, family members, as well as the saints and angels of God await you on the other side. You’ve been there! You’ve seen it for yourself.
However, as soon as you share your experience with others, there are going to be those who will say, “Oh come now, that was just a chemical reaction of the brain.” Or, “It was just a defense mechanism kicking in at a very frightening time.” Or, “That was just a dream, albeit a very realistic one, as I have had them too.”
You see, it makes no difference that they have no solid proof to disprove you, they will still try to convince you and themselves that what you experienced was not real but only imagined. So it was with the dear brother in my rookie pastorate who was brought back from the dead and shared with me his glorious heavenly home-going. But then he squeezed my hand and said, “”Don’t tell the congregation pastor, for they will think that I am crazy.” I said, “Chuck my brother, are you serious? No way am I keeping this quiet, for you are my next show-and-tell.” Chuck however proved to be right.
Don’t waste their time trying to convince the skeptical religious or scientific mindset. You know what you saw, and so do Ruthie and I! Glory be to God! Let it bless those who receive it, and for the rest, turn them over to God to deal with. Only He can! And don’t feel alone, for there were those in Jesus’ earthly miracle ministry who passed judgment on Him that what He was dong was demonic and not Divine. These types Jesus encountered too and they will be with us always.
I couldn’t resist eventually asking the inevitable WHY that is so very typical of God’s inquisitive little children, as the infinitely all-wise God is forever being questioned by finiteness. He is accustomed to it in our lives and in fact knew what question I would ask? He knew it was coming. What WHY? I asked Him, “Why Lord didn’t you heal both lights instead of just one?” To which the Lord Jesus firmly responded to me:
“BECAUSE I AM THE ONLY TRUE LIGHT IN THIS WORLD OF
DENSE SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND APART FROM ME NO
MAN CAN FIND HIS WAY HOME TO GOD AND HEAVEN.”
Remember that it was pitch black, except for the lights of other cars now and then whizzing by. We were not at the moment joyriders, especially not me. But that ONE MIRACLE LIGHT was bright and intense enough to illuminate the darkness and our road home. A faint glow would not have gotten us safely to our destination. We got home safe and sound in that MIRACLE LIGHT as we rode in its bright beam. It alone became our all-sufficient beacon that led us to where we needed to go.
I know that I am not being overly dramatic when I say that there are millions of people along the highways of life in their dark night of sin who are lost and are looking for the light. I have since then thought of the words of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 60:2,
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and DEEP
DARKNESS the peoples….”
Frankly, the spiritual and moral darkness has never in history been thicker, blacker and more universally pervasive. A recent survey indicates that now only 13% of Americans believe in all of the Ten Commandments as applicable to today. This means that 87% of Americans now view the Decalogue of Moses in many of its fiats as irrelevant to the 21st century. Nine out of ten citizens admit that they lie regularly, for that is the only way to survive in this depressed economy. For ten million dollars, 7% of Americans now say they would kill a stranger on a contract-killing basis. That is scary, very scary. America in this gross darkness can no longer see the Biblical principles that once guided this nation.
How dense can the darkness become? We realize that the darkness is becoming pitch black as it now more and more openly and aggressively opposes the light. In Colorado Springs, a minister has been repeatedly cited for holding religious meetings in his home in violation of a city zoning ordinance.
In Fairhaven, Massachusetts, local zoning officials ruled that Bible studies are home occupations and therefore are prohibited under the town’s property-use ordinances.
In Los Angeles, dark-minded officials ruled that home-occupancy regulations forbade orthodox Jews from holding prayer meetings in their homes.
As civil-liberties lawyers could not help but note in a Stratford, Connecticut case, home Bible studies are penalized while Tupperware parties enjoy the full protection of the Constitution. Legal battles are becoming common now over church bells ringing out the call to worship in modern suburbia where most of the citizens sleep in on a Sunday morning.
But there is more to the prophecy and Messianic truth of Isaiah 60 than we have quoted, for it goes on to say in verses 2 and 3,
“But the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will
appear upon you,”
“And nations will come to your light, and kings to the
brightness of your rising.”
There I stood shining in the darkness, standing with the miracle light of a restored car headlight shining upon me. Surely, Ruth and I could now see to find our way home, but we did not fully grasp the meaning of the miracle at the moment. But it came to us strong very soon! Only when the world sees the light of Jesus shining upon us will mankind come to Jesus Who is the only light in this world of darkness and despair. Only then will they find their way out of their midnight madness of sin and find their way home to God, to forgiveness, to true meaning, to eternal life, and to moral purity.
And I thought too of the fact that Jesus in John 8:12 said,
“I am the light of the world….”
Not “a” light! No, rather, “the” light! And that of the whole world! But on the other hand, while He claims exclusivity as the world’s light, he elsewhere says to us in Matthew 5:14,
“You are the light of the world.”
Not “a” light! No, rather, “the” light! And likewise, the light of the whole world! Ruthie and I were following that miracle light, but at the same time we were the bearers of that miracle light. How is it then with your light and my light? Is it shining with and for Jesus so that the this nation can find its way home to God? We have what the world desperately needs. We are not the source of that light, but we are the bearers of that light – the true light of Jesus Christ. Without us the peoples of the world are in a deep darkness, in fact a darker darkness than we had experienced that miracle Christmas night.
Dr. Sam Lawton was born blind. Nevertheless, he had a ministry in Spartanburg, S.C. Years before he died he traveled to the Holy Land. His group was following the steps of Jesus in His earthly ministry. Approaching Jericho, the guide told them, “Right over there is the rock where Bartemaeus first met Jesus and was healed of blindness.” Dr. Lawton requested of a friend who was with him, “Please take me over to that rock.” The whole crowd was hushed in silence as Dr. Lawton stood on that site and began to sing a little song with a huge message that I hope and pray all of us can sing with him from the heart:
“The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin,
the light of the world is Jesus.”
“Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in,
the light of the world is Jesus.”
By this time, as the story goes, this dear blind man’s face was radiant with great joy as he concluded the song:
“Once I was blind, but now I can see; the Light
of the world is Jesus.”
During the Christmas season of 1879, a newspaper reporter in Boston saw three girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of them was blind. Coming closer, he heard the other two trying to describe the playthings in the store window to their sightless friend. He later related that he had never thought of how difficult it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who has never been able to see. That incident became the basis for a newspaper story.
Two weeks later the same reporter attended a meeting conducted by Dwight L. Moody. The reporter’s purpose in attending was to catch the great evangelist in some inconsistency and expose him. He was greatly surprised, therefore, when Moody used the reporter’s own account in the paper of his encounter with the three children. Moody stated, “Just as the blind girl couldn’t visualize the toys, so an unsaved person cannot spiritually see God in all His glory.” Moody went on to say that Christ alone opens the blinded eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sins and accepts Jesus as his Savior in humble faith.
The newsman was touched by Moody’s words and saw that he too was blind and in need of Christ’s healing and saving light. So it is that the Bible states in Psalm 36:9,
“In Thy light, we see light.”
Ruthie and I will one day follow that light all the way to our Heavenly home! Thank you for letting us share with you:
A MIRACLE LIGHT – FINDING OUR WAY HOME