The story is told of police officers who were using a radar gun to check the speed of vehicles as they came over the crest of a hill. Suddenly, their radar registered a speed of 500 miles per hour. They tried to reset their equipment, but suddenly it shut down. Moments later, a low-flying military F-18 flew over the hill. In shock and surprise, the officers were caught off guard and yelled at the pilot voicing their displeasure. Later, a complaint was sent to the base commander.
In response, and in great Marine fashion, a letter was sent back saying, "Thank you for helping us complete our incident report. When our F-18 registered your unidentified radar, its computer automatically jammed the signal, thus shutting down your equipment, thus the reason for your equipment malfunctioning. I believe it is also noteworthy to inform you that at the same time your signal was jammed, a missile was automatically locked onto the signal source of the hostile radar. Thankfully, the quick thinking of the pilot recognized the situation for what it was, and he aborted the missile. For information, the digital photographic equipment on the aircraft is incredibly precise and the resolution is extremely clear. Please inform Officer Johnson that he has a snap broken on his belt. Also, he should have his rear molar checked as it appears that his filling is loose. Thank you again for your correspondence." Semper Fi.
Sometimes we're surprised when we learn that our perspective of a situation or event is one sided or incomplete. I loved listening to Paul Harvey on the radio as he told, "The Rest of the Story." Beyond the headline, the real story was revealed.
This truth was brought to life when a client named Shaniqua came to our center. It seemed like her attitude arrived just before she walked through the door. She was angry, loud, coarse and demanding. She informed the receptionist that she wanted a pregnancy test, and she wasn't going to wait. As she filled out the intake form in the waiting room, the counselor she would be talking with came into my office. She told me that she was very nervous and intimidated by Shaniqua. The client's language, demeanor, and attitude raised fear within her, and she asked if I would pray with her. I gathered a couple of other staff together, and we prayed over her as she prepared to meet with Shaniqua in the counseling room.
As we prayed, we asked the Lord to give Shaniqua's counselor a love that came from His heart, that He would direct her words and thoughts, and that she would see Shaniqua as God saw her.
After we prayed, the counselor said that a thought ran through her mind during our prayer time. She said, "Shaniqua is protecting herself. She has been deeply wounded and her language, attitude, and demeanor are ways to keep people at a distance so she won't get hurt again. Those are like bricks that she has made into a wall to keep people from hurting her again. She is in pain, and she is scared."
With that God-given revelation, the counselor no longer looked at Shaniqua as an angry, intimidating woman. She saw her as a lonely, scared woman who was desperately trying to protect herself. As the two met together, God began to do a miracle work. The counselor did not respond as Shaniqua expected. She was patient, kind, and loving despite the raw language and abrasive attitude Shaniqua projected. During their session together, love overcame anger and genuine concern won Shaniqua's heart. She began to soften and change. When Shaniqua left the center, she was a different woman than when she arrived. She found compassion, caring, and help from a counselor who became her friend.
What made the difference? A divine perspective that allows us to see beyond the surface and view a reality that is often hidden. This truth is also witnessed in the biblical account of the Old Testament prophet Elisha and his aide found in 2 Kings 6.
In that historical event, an army was seeking Elisha in order that he might be captured. When his aide looked out a window and saw the enemy coming toward them, he panicked and ran to Elisha. The aide thought they were in grave danger and about to be surrounded. Not being alarmed, Elisha prayed and asked God to open the eyes of his helper. Then Elisha instructed his aide to look again at the approaching army. When his aide looked out the window again, he saw that the hills surrounding them were filled with chariots of fire. Elisha told the aide that there were more with them than with the invading army coming against them.
The reality of this account is that there is more going on around us than our eyes can see. No matter how things may look, we need to ask God to help us see things from His perspective. When it appears that God is not present, I have learned that He is actually very active behind the scenes. God has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. We need to trust Him and continue walking by faith.
As you know, walking by faith is both an exciting and surprising journey. You know that God will lead you and provide for you, but you don't know how or exactly when. Dr. Stan Toler wrote several books about faith. One is entitled, God Is Never Late; He Is Seldom Early; He's Always Right On Time. Another one is entitled, God Has Never Failed Me, But He's Sure Scared Me to Death A Few Times. In ministry, all of us can relate, but faith is the act of trusting God before you see the results or know how He will work.
Since God always keeps His promises, He is keenly aware of every aspect of our lives. It also means that God is at work bringing about His plan for our lives. It may seem that God is silent during times in our lives, but as Romans 8:28 tells us, He is working all things together for good, for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. Be encouraged — God is at work, and He is surrounding you with His love and presence. He is as close as the mention of His name. From His perspective, everything is under control and your future is secure.
Pastor Mark Hiehle served as a center director for over 15 years. He now pastors the First Church of the Nazarene in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He continues to help centers grow through tools found at www.highcalling.com.