By Mel Menker
Have you ever wondered of God was working in your life? Take a few moments to see that He is through the discovery of "suddenly God" moments in your life.
Our friends in Israel had just shared an intensely powerful testimony as to how God had moved in sudden and unexpected ways in their lives to accomplish profound “fruit” for His glory. As they spoke of those “suddenly God” moments, I began to recall many experiences in which God had revealed Himself suddenly in my own life. I seemed to feel His presence in me as I began to see chains of events that had intersected with my life in a variety of venues, each chain playing as a motion pictures, each “film” separate yet running simultaneously with the others. With awe I was able to see each “movie” culminate in the manifestation of His will for which I was blessed, as were others around me. It seemed as though, for the very first time, I could see a “picture” much larger than I had ever seen before. It was an “eureka” moment where I became most acutely aware of the providence of God. I was actually seeing the intricate tapestry He had been weaving in many areas of my life – every stitch had meaning! It was more than seeing a beautiful sunset whose colors stretch from north to south as far as the eye can see; more than witnessing waves lapping at the basking sand of a sun-drenched beach; more than viewing firsthand the birth of my sons – it was seeing all the parts that were necessary for the entire picture to unfold, stretched over years of time. It was actually realizing how the hand of God is constantly at work in our lives – subtly, quietly and perfectly weaving the strands in the loom of our lives.
My first thought was how I came to be in Israel for the tenth time. How had an encounter twenty-two years ago turned into a ministry? When Emerson approached me in the summer of 1985 to apply for a scholarship to study in Israel in order to help me better understand God’s Word in its context so as to assist my message delivery, I thought it rather odd he would single me out for such consideration. Actually, he was a rather negative person who had historically been a “thorn in the flesh” in the church – one of those people who tended to turn people away rather than embrace them. He certainly would never win a “warm fuzzy” award! Though I had learned to avoid him because of his coldness, yet, he had singled me out for this opportunity and even offered to pay my way! When I received the scholarship to live and study in the Holy Land for twenty-three days, I realized God had used an unexpected channel for a part of His plan that would play into the future He had designed for me.
The study experience was indeed a blessing and it did indeed change my message preparation and subsequent delivery; it permitted the Word to “come alive” and make it applicable for day-to-day living. Knowing the historical context and the audience to whom the Word was being spoken played integral roles in enabling me to see that the Word mattered in contemporary life just as it had thousands of years before. It has since led to the privilege of hosting a number of people on ten pilgrimages to the Holy Land with plans already in place for the next trip and also the privilege of countless presentations in the United States and Canada.
These “suddenly God” moments have surrounded my life over the years, often without my immediate recognition. In fact, I have found myself on many occasions being unaware of His touches until well after they happened. My lack of awareness is reminiscent of the religious “Footprints in the Sand” analogy in which the person engages in conversation with God and asks Him where He was when he/she needed Him most. The conversant refers to the fact that during those times of most painful trial there was only one set of prints in the sand rather than the two witnessed prior to the time of testing. The inquiry to God of wondering where He was in times of crisis is answered in the kind and gentle expression, “Those were not times when you were alone; those were the times I carried you.” Many times it was well after the fact that I recognized His presence – His suddenness – and how He had lovingly and gracefully intervened in my existence – when He carried me.
In reflecting back, I can identify countless events and, though I was thankful, albeit often after the fact, I realize that I only really noticed those “suddenly God” in the context of what God had done or was doing for me. It wasn’t until this past year that I realized that those precious moments were not just about me but were also often asking a response of me. In essence, many of those moments in time were actually times God wanted me to do something – to give something away – rather than to be recipient of His touch.
Three years ago my wife and I had the tremendous privilege of meeting a couple whose lives are substantially interwoven with the people of Israel. Spending time with these inhabitants of the Holy City of Jerusalem and a vibrant city on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, this couple invests in the lives of their neighbors, friends and acquaintances through attentive listening companioned with the sharing of the world’s greatest news story ever known. As they intersect and interact with these people they quickly grow to love, they respond to the narratives of pain and heartache they hear with a spiritual resource that is unequaled – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They offer those in seemingly desperate circumstances spiritual “handles” that enable them to not just survive but to be victorious in their struggles. They minister to persons of other faiths who are searching for answers and meaning to life, especially in the midst of life’s tests and trials. Our relationship with them has become a source of inspiration to us and it has changed our understanding of the “suddenly God” moments that touch our existence.
On one evening last year while visiting in their home in the Galilee region, they spoke of the “suddenly God” moments in their lives and how these unexpected happenings had created defining moments in their lives. Some of the “suddenly God” moments were personal, such as their meeting and subsequent marriage, but most were not. Instead of seeing these unexpected moments in time as being designed by God to bless them, they had realized that most of those impromptu touches were actually unexpected catalyst moments in which doors were being opened for them to interact with and possibly positively impact persons whom God was sending to cross with their lives. They realized those precise moments were not about them but about Him and what He was doing in ways they didn’t even know about or understand. They recognized they were to be engaged in mission and service – giving themselves away to minister to the needs of others.
My wife and I responded mentally and emotionally to their stories simultaneously as we sat across from each other in our friends’ living room, spellbound by their revelation. We quickly understood that God was desiring to do the same in our lives; He was speaking to our hearts as well - to cease looking for the unexpected moments in which God would touch us but to examine those “suddenly God” instances to see what He wanted us to do for Him and those whom He was sending to intersect us. As we nestled into our hotel room outside of Tiberias that evening, we realized we had experienced a “suddenly God” moment that would possibly change our lives forever.
Since that fateful night in the home of dedicated Christian believers, our lives and our attitudes have been markedly altered. Now we are more acutely aware of those precious “suddenly God” moments. We realize these are actually doors He opens for us to listen to and share with others who need His touch. In the few months since our time of revelation we have experienced many “suddenly God” moments including recent travels in which God has placed persons in airplane seats next to me with whom to interact and pass along the blessings of God. These people are now part of my prayer life and, in some cases, we are now in touch on a regular basis – still reaching out with the love of God.
In conclusion, we continue to try to listen more diligently to the still small voice of God that speaks to people today. We are trying to be more aware of things going on around us, which includes a visual acuity as to the people in motion in our proximity. And we are working to be open to the possibility of lives sent to intersect with ours by Him and how we are to respond to those “suddenly God” possibilities. Most of all, our attitude has changed and we realize it’s not about us; rather, it’s all about Him. I invite you to stop a moment and see what He’s doing in your life now and what He wants to do with you and through you beginning as early as today.
©2007 Mel Menker
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