This section was prompted by a broadcast I heard by Ravi Zacharias. He made the wondeful suggestion to take a look at our “God” stories, and see how the Lord brought each one about. He began by telling some of his own stories, how “this couldn’t have happened unless that happened first,” story after story.
It’s good to review the major stories of one’s life, because we often forget all the Lord had to to in order to bring each story about.
Take the time to review your stories. You will surprise yourself as you consider just how present and active God has been in your life. Then write the stories down and share them. He deserves to have his wondrous deeds made known.
My mother had warned me about booking a flight that had a layover in Atlanta, she had had a bad experience there. But it was the only choice I had, really, in booking a flight my pocketbook could afford.
It was a beautiful summer day in Portland, Maine as my daughter and I sat in the terminal awaiting my boarding time. We sat at one of those little snack shops with tables outside, and we watched the people – a favorite pastime for both of us. Our chit chat was interrupted by the announcement, “preparing to board flight 4721 to Atlanta.” We got up and hugged each other really tight, not knowing how long it would be until we’d see each other again.
No sooner had we taxied to the runway, the captain announced on the intercom, “ladies and gentlemen, there’s a delay in traffic headed over New York, but don’t worry, this isn’t unusual and many times these things clear up within a short time. It could be as short as five minutes, but it could be up to an hour. We’ll let you know anything we find out.”
So we sat on the runway, for what turned out to be a half hour. Originally, I had a fifty-minute layover in Atlanta, but now that was pared down to twenty minutes in which to make my next flight going to San Diego. But I’ve flown a lot, and I remembered that another time we were delayed on the runway, but the pilot was able to make up the lost time during the flight. So I reassured myself that the lost time would be made up, and sat back and commanded myself to relax and enjoy the flight.
Many years ago, when I found myself frequently traveling alone across the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, the Lord gave me a promise and wonderfully confirmed it to me, “you are blessed in your goings out, and blessed in your comings in.” When the Lord speaks to us, he will always confirm the message so that we will know it really is from him. Having received that word from the Lord, along with a very real confirmation of it, and then someone later handing me a key chain with those very words on it, that sealed it in my heart and from then on I always had peace while flying great distances, knowing I was covered by the blessing of the Lord.
These thoughts came back to me as I sat in that plane on the runway in Portland. I knew that I was accompanied by the Lord’s blessing and that if I was delayed, there was a specific reason for it and that it would work out for the good.
Well, the pilot didn’t make up the lost time and by the time I got off the plane and made my way to the next gate, my connecting flight had already left. It was after ten o’clock at night and I had no idea what to do. The situation was further complicated – I was traveling to California to be with my mother who had fallen and was hospitalized with a broken bone in her back. My sister would be picking me up at the airport in San Diego, and I knew she wouldn’t go home to check for telephone messages, but would just go to the airport directly from the hospital, because returning home first would have put her well out of her way. Telephone message? I didn’t even have a cell phone at the time, how could I reach my sister to tell her not to head out to the airport?
As I arrived at the service desk in Atlanta, I found myself in a crowd of hundreds of people who also had been delayed and had missed their connections. I later found out that all air traffic over New York had been suspended for awhile, so that meant that anyone flying south over New York was going to be late. When I saw the hundreds and hundreds of people gathered at the service desk, my heart sank. It was a very long wait in line, and when I finally got to the desk it was after midnight. I was distraught. I blurted out in no genteel manner that my mother is lying in a hospital bed and I’m on my way to be with her, and my sister is going to be going to the airport in San Diego to pick me up, and I HAVE to get there tonight!
But of course, that was impossible. I wasn’t much comforted when they told me they’d put me up in a hotel and get me out first thing in the morning. “But how am I going to let my sister know?” I asked in exasperation.
There was a woman standing beside me, in the very same circumstances I was in, and she offered to let me use her cell phone. What a relief! I suddenly remembered that I had my sister’s cell phone number on me, I dug it out and called her, hoping she’d be able to receive the call within the hospital walls. There was no answer. So I called her house and left a message on her answering machine, my heart now in a fit of exasperation. Something nudged me to try her cell phone again, I did and finally I reached her and blurted out to her that I wouldn’t be coming in tonight and how relieved I am to be able to get ahold of her to tell her that. I told her I’d be in touch with her the next day as soon as I find out the details of my next flight.
I wasn’t calmed down, though. The frustration of the delay, the long wait in line, and the difficulty reaching my sister had just about done me in. It was late, I was tired, and I wasn’t a good example of a daughter of the Lord at that point. In contrast, was the woman who had let me use her cell phone. She was delayed too and obviously missed her connection as well, it was late for her also, but she was so calm and peaceful that I kept watching her throughout this story with a deep-down feeling that her demeanor was incredibly odd at a time like this. It turned out that they gave her a hotel voucher to the same hotel I was being sent to, so she invited me to go along with her to catch the shuttle to the hotel. Invited me? At that point I would have held on to her coat to make sure wherever she goes I was going to go.
We walked and walked, she oddly seemed to know the way, no detours or mistakes, just straight to the shuttle parking area. There were no assigned parking places, each incoming shuttle bus just took the first empty space available. We tried to get to the edge of the walkway, but it was almost impossible because there were hundreds, if not thousands, of other people in the same circumstances doing the same thing. We snaked our way to the very end where the buses rounded the corner and waited. After an incredibly long wait, finally we saw the shuttle with the name of our hotel on it come around the corner. Wouldn’t you know, the first empty parking space was down the other end. So we pushed and shoved our way to the shuttle, only for the driver to close the door just as I put my foot onto the bottom step. “Filled up,” he said. I wanted to cry – and was on the verge of tears when the woman with me said, “come on, we’ll take a taxi.”
“A taxi?” I cried, “look at all the people here, the taxi driver will take advantage of us and charge an enormous rate to get us to the hotel.” “We’re taking a taxi,” she replied in a calmness that gave me goose bumps all up and down my spine. Somewhere on the subconscious level I knew this lady’s calmness was more than what would be humanly possible under circumstances like this. But I was so tired and so frustrated that I just followed her, protesting all the way.
Finally we hailed a taxi, and as we rode mile after mile my heart sank as I contemplated what the fee for this was going to be. We arrived at the hotel and the woman paid the driver. I asked her what the charge was so that I could give her my share. “It wasn’t much,” she said, “he didn’t take advantage of us.” As we walked into the hotel I was poring through my purse for cash to give to her and she said rather authoritatively, “don’t worry about it, I’ve paid for both of us,” and she would not take a cent. I usually would have insisted, but I was just too tired to argue.
The hotel lobby was just as crowded as the shuttle area had been. Finally we got to the desk and handed the clerk our vouchers. “Oh, we’re not taking any more vouchers,” she said, “we’re filled up.”
I was too tired to cry. I just stood there stunned. It was after one in the morning and here we were stranded at a hotel miles from the airport.
“What are we supposed to do?” I blurted out to the hotel clerk.
“Go back to the airport,” she said.
I felt the blood draining from my head. The thought of spending the night in the airport just overwhelmed me.
Then suddenly two young women approached us who overheard our conversation and they said to us, “here, we have two rooms but we only need one, really. Take the key to our second room, there are two beds in ours so it really won’t be an imposition.” ! ! !
Now that I look back on the story, it boggles my mind that while I was standing helpless in the lobby of the hotel that was turning people away at later than one in the morning, there were two persons standing near us who just handed over the key to their second room and would receive no payment for it. I mean — that just doesn’t happen!
When I think of what the Lord had to put together in order to provide for me that night, each factor having to happen exactly on time while I was in the midst of hundreds of people, all I can say is that this story and many others like it over the years has left me with no possible doubt that the Lord is FAITHFUL to his promises. He had promised me years back that his blessing was upon me as I traveled, my travels always having been at his direction and for his purposes. It’s when we’re at our wit’s end that the Lord rises up and demonstrates in obvious and undeniable ways his faithfulness. He had given me his word. And now he was making good on it.
The woman I had been with from back at the airport service desk took the key from the young woman’s hand and I followed her up to the room. During this entire venture, she continued willfully and without hesitation, as though she was familiar with the whole airport layout, the shuttle layout, and the hotel layout. She never hesitated, and I just followed her every purposeful step.
When we arrived at the room, she told me that her next flight in the morning would be leaving before mine, and reminded me to return the key to the desk in the lobby. Then, she said as she looked out the window toward the McDonald’s golden arches, she was going out to get something to eat. — umm, going out to eat at 2:00 in the morning after an ordeal such as we had just come through??? I collapsed on the bed. And I never saw her again.
In the morning, I was shuttled back to the airport and was on my way to San Diego. I was to stay there helping my sister care for our mother. And the Lord put the icing on the cake. After her initial difficulties, our mother was HEALED. This is the honest truth. Her doctor told us that she hadn’t expected her to survive the fall she took, and was just shocked when we went back for her monthly checkup. She said that our mother was “a walking miracle.” I asked if she was just using that expression to convey her amazement at our mother’s unexpected recovery and she said that no, she meant exactly what she said – our mother had obviously been supernaturally healed.
Wasn’t it the Spirit of the Lord who came upon me that first night at my sister’s home, when we prayed together before starting together on this mission? He had spoken to my heart exactly what to do, to pray all around our mother’s bed and that my sister and I were to anoint each other. We spent quite some time praying that night, with the very strong sense that every part of our prayer was being led by the Spirit of God. In the short time I was there, we saw this healing take place right before our eyes.
It didn’t happen instantly so we didn’t recognize it as a supernatural healing. But day by day she improved, getting off all medication, and even ceased using the brace the orthopedist had had specially made for her. We had asked how long she would have to wear that bulky and uncomfortable brace and were told “for the rest of her life.” But now here she was sitting in the doctor’s office, legs crossed at the knee comfortably, and the doctor was almost speechless.
“This is incredible,” the doctor said. “When I read the hospital report on you, I said to myself, ‘this is the end of Mrs. M!’ I can’t believe you’re sitting in this chair with one leg crossed over the other like this. You should be in terrible pain, or not even alive!'”
That was her first visit back to the doctor, but shortly after that visit she was so well that she was able to dispense with the brace. Finally, one day she said to me, “I’m fine now, you have no need to stay any longer,” and I returned home – without incident.
The key to this story is knowing what the Lord will speak to one’s heart and then standing on that word when it’s challenged. Not everyone experiences angels or witnesses healing. It’s not something one can demand from the Lord. But once he has spoken a personal promise, that’s to be taken seriously and claimed when a challenge to that promise arises. The Lord took me through the Atlanta airport story to demonstrate to me the absolute faithfulness and trustworthiness of his Word, in this case his promise that I am blessed when I travel. He had to pre-arrange that my flight would be on that day, through that airport, and he had to make sure that woman – human or angelic I don’t know – would be standing right next to me as I arrived amid the hundreds of people at the airport service desk. He had to pre-arrange that later, as we stood in the large crowd at the hotel at later than 1:00 in the morning, there were to be two other women who would just happen to be standing next to us, overhear the hotel clerk refuse to take us, and give us their room so that we had a bed to sleep in and not a chair in the airport terminal, and he arranged that all provision would be at no cost to me. And then having done all that, he provided the further and unexpected blessing of healing our mother who had a broken bone in her back that was inoperable.
As I sit here back in my own home and review all these events, goose bumps again rise up from the top of my head to the soles of my feet as I realize all the Lord had to do to put this story together so that my faith would be strengthened in the light of his demonstration of his total faithfulness and trustworthiness. Sometimes I wonder if other people can see the crown on my head as I walk around – so impotent in myself – but incalculably blessed as a walking daughter of The King.
But, one might ask, why would God put me through the rigors of this story seeing that I have his promised blessing when I travel?
For you, dear reader. So I could tell this story to encourage you, to strengthen your faith, to inspire confidence in the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the Lord, that you might take another look at your own stories and perhaps see with a new eye the faithfulness of our God throughout our walk with him, if only we can look beyond the human and perceive the divine.
“…who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2nd Corinthians 1:4
A voice came to me saying, “Doesn’t it say that if the Son of God has set you free, then you are free indeed? Then if you really are free, you can drink just like other free people, can’t you?”
I thought hours on that. It seemed reasonable to me. Was I really free or wasn’t I? And if I was, why couldn’t I drink and keep it in control? I asked my husband what he thought. He couldn’t offer an argument against it. I asked my sister, and neither could she. So I decided to give it a try.
I would start at my cousin’s wedding in a few days. My husband agreed to let me drink from his glass so I wouldn’t be noticed with a drink in my own hand.
And immediately, back I went into captivity.
I would now spend the next 17 months in agony like I had never known. It didn’t take me long to realize I had been tricked. Satan had used Scripture to trick me. Within days, I was in greater captivity to alcoholism than I had ever been even just before my deliverance in 1974.
I began to cry out to God for mercy, and for another deliverance. I came to him time after time after time acknowledging my drunkenness as sin. I admitted that I didn’t really want to be away from alcohol because it dulled the pain so, but was convicted about drunkenness by the Word so in agreement with the Word I asked to be set free.
Sun, 19th, 1976
I woke up thinking about Shadrach and Meshach.
Later, at the prayer meeting at the Binette’s, THAT very Scripture passage was read from Daniel 3.
In rereading it later, the part that stood out was that a 4th person was in the furnace – Jesus.
My Conclusion: I believe God was telling me I was to go through the Fiery Furnace, and that Jesus would be with me THROUGH it, and would bring me out with no damage done.
(If only I had known, I couldn’t have imagined it….) But the Scripture held true!
I went along with Elie and Van and some others to a Christian conference in Kansas City. This was the first time I had the thrill of flying on a large plane, which had been a desire of my heart from my early teen years. I was so thrilled I could hardly contain myself.
This was a chartered flight and we were assigned seats. When I went to my seat, I found that I had been assigned an aisle seat. What a bitter disappointment! I said to the Lord, “You provided this wonderful trip for me, and you could have provided a window seat too. You know, many people don’t care about that, and you know how very much it means to me. I don’t understand.”
The answer was, “Stop complaining and praise me.” So I got ahold of myself, and forced myself to praise him, thinking he must have a reason for me to sit here.
And then, when I was praising him, the pilot came over the loudspeaker and said, “Now that you’re all seated and accounted for, if anyone would like to change seats, you may.” And there was Elie, sitting many rows behind me, waving and calling out, “Paula, I have a window seat, do you want it?!!!”