A Matter of Inches
It was the weekend and I had just returned from the morning’s worship service. I was on my couch when I noticed something on the floor. I got up to retrieve it and jammed my toe hard into the foot of the coffee table. Time seemed to go in slow motion as I summersaulted over the top of the coffee table and landed hard on my left wrist, my head and neck only inches from the sharp corner of the table. I lay there for a while recovering from the fall, feeling my throbbing wrist and taking inventory of the rest of me. Thankfully, I am typing this out on my computer with just a brace on my sprained left wrist, but it was a close call. It could have been a lot worse. How many times has something like that happened to you?
I had to smile the next morning when I saw that my daily devotional reading was based on Habakkuk 3:19: “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” Spurgeon comments, “Note, that the Lord also gave him sure-footedness. The hinds leap over rock and crag, never missing their foothold. Our Lord will give grace to follow the most difficult paths of duty without a stumble.” Well, perhaps not always literally.
God upholds our spirits but He does not guarantee if or how long our bodies will be in good working order. After my recent fall, I thought of my good friend Irmhild Barend in Berlin. She served for years on our Jews for Jesus European board of directors until one morning when, alone in her apartment, she tripped and fell. She has been a quadriplegic ever since. Life altering changes can happen just that quickly.
Scripture tells us to number our days, but I think our lives are often lived in terms of mere inches. Why was it that I only sprained my wrist while under similar circumstances my friend’s life was catastrophically upended? Only the Lord knows, but I have chosen to take this occasion to acknowledge His sovereign grace in my life, in Irmhild’s life and in the life of every person He has created.
I believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us. He knows the length of our days and the contours of our paths and promises to guide our steps just as He promised Habakkuk. This is true regardless of the steadiness of our feet or lack thereof. God deserves our praise and worship, for He alone knows all things and He declares the end from the beginning. He knows what is best. He wants what is best and He will do what is best. Bless His holy name.
All of this made me recall a miracle I experienced many years ago. I don’t often use that word but there is no other way to describe it. It had been only days since I had surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus. I was a freshman at Boston University’s School of Music and was coming home on a bus from an orchestra rehearsal at rush hour. As I was getting off the bus, we were stopped at a red light. Hoping to cross that busy four lane intersection on Washington Street before the light changed I scampered down the steps and out in front of the bus, not realizing the light had just turned green.
Someone driving in the center was already accelerating to full speed when I hustled out past the bus to cross the street. It happened so fast there was no time to think. I remember seeing the hood of the approaching car and putting out my left hand against the impact. I literally flipped over the hood of that car across the two lanes of opposite traffic, landing on my feet but falling immediately to my knees on the complete other side of the street.
All the other cars in the intersection came to a halt. The bus driver jumped off the bus. People opened their car doors to get out and see what had happened. I stood up, now on the other side of the street and dusted myself off. “Are you alright?” someone yelled out. “Yes,” I called back, as I walked on. It took me some moments to realize what had just happened, and I am sure those who saw it were wondering as well. There wasn’t a scratch on me, no bruises—not even torn clothing.
There is no physical explanation for what happened to me that day; obviously the Lord had intervened in a supernatural way. Perhaps I was sharing in the promise of Scripture: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
I know that Satan tempted the Lord Jesus by quoting that verse to Him. We certainly don’t want to tempt God by foolishly running out into traffic and counting on Him to protect us. But I am quite sure that we have no idea how many times God is intervening to protect us from harm. And if we did know, we could not understand it any more than we can understand why, at times, He does not intervene and His children suffer harm in this world.
Thankfully, our Lord knows not only the length of our days but also the minutest distance between us and whatever might bring us harm. His sovereign will is inexplicable, but He is trustworthy. Spurgeon concluded his remarks on the Habakkuk passage by saying, “One of these days we shall be called to higher places still. Up yonder we shall climb, even to the mount of God, the high places where the shining ones are gathered. Oh, what feet are the feet of faith, by which following the Hind of the Morning, we shall ascend into the hill of the Lord!” All we can say is, “Amen.”
Check it Out
In this month’s Jews for Jesus Newsletter, David shares his heart about being both realistic and loving in what we see and say about the church. Read more here.
Executive Director, Missionary
David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live. David’s daughter, Ilana is a recent graduate of Biola. His son, Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife, Shaina, have one daughter, Nora, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.