I have been troubled by the fact that some well-established Jewish believers in Jesus have turned away from Him. Perhaps they never really experienced God and their conversions” were conformity to others with whom they wanted to belong. Christian joy, peace and enthusiasm can be very attractive. They can even be seductive if people value the result of God’s presence more than God Himself. The sense of belonging to something high and noble is powerful. The everyday reality of God does not always stimulate all those feelings. But it takes more than feelings to “keep the faith.”
I think that we can all identify with the fact that sometimes we are disappointed in our Christian walk. At times, God doesn’t seem to answer prayers. At times, the demands of a life of faith seem restrictive, and we do not always feel empowered to live according to the restrictions. I must admit that there have been times when I have had my doubts. I wondered if possibly my own experience with God might be just an illusion. And I confess this as a fault.
One reason why God gives us holidays is to help us navigate through our own forgetfulness. Certain events remind us that He is real during the ordinary or even disappointing moments of our lives. Apparently, God does not want the kind of relationship where He must prove Himself to us every minute of every day. It seems He wants us to remember what He has done for us in the past and trust Him for our present and future. While holidays help us to memorialize the reality of what He has done corporately, we should also memorialize and remind ourselves of the things He has done for us individually.
At the end of August, 1954, I found myself answering the call of God and going from Denver, Colorado to Essex Falls, New Jersey to attend Northeastern Bible College. It was an exciting adventure to go cross country with our three-year-old daughter, Lyn. The farthest I had ever been from Denver was Kansas City, and I had never driven more than a hundred miles from my home. We loaded up our 1949 Hudson with our worldly goods, strapped some furniture on top and set out on a two thousand mile trek. I was having the adventure of my life.
Now I have always been a somewhat cautious person. I checked the level of the oil, water, tires, etc. I had been informed that our Hudson was in excellent working order. We got to Columbus, Ohio and checked into one of those old fashioned motels, the kind where you stayed in a one-room cottage with a carport on either side.
Who knew from air-conditioning in those days? The fact that the temperature hovered near a hundred degrees each day did not seem to bother us so much, but that night I had difficulty sleeping. It was like my own voice was speaking to me, and saying, “Tires, look at the tires.” Well, I got dressed, took my flashlight and checked all around the tires. I did not find anything wrong, so I went back to bed. Just about the time I fell asleep, I heard what seemed to be my own voice telling me again, “Tires, tires, tires, tires.” I did not want to get up, but a restlessness compelled me to get dressed and go out again.
This time, instead of looking at the outside of the tires, I got under the car with the flashlight and shined it on the inside of the tires. I almost did not see it at first, but then I did—a big bulge on the side-wall of my front right tire. The next day the tire salesman marveled that I had been able to drive from the motel to his shop.
Without that warning I would have entered the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which had no speed limit at that time. In the summer heat that front right tire would have blown for certain. “Thank you, Jesus,” I said. I realized that it was not my voice, but God’s voice that had warned me.
Tragedy averted—that is what I can say about many of the “God incidences” in my life. I can’t say that things like that happen on a regular basis and I have always been reluctant to use the words, “God told me,” or, “God showed me.” But He certainly showed Himself mighty to save that evening.
Each time I remember what God has done it helps me know He is caring for me still. I hope this Thanksgiving you can look back and be thankful for the “God-incidences” in your life. It is remembering who He is, not who we are or how we feel, that enables us to “keep the faith.”