All His Benefits

We’re constantly being lied to about the goodness and faithfulness of God. How easily we forget how graciously He takes care of us, protects us, and rescues us time and again. Remembering specific things He’s done for us, all His benefits, helps maintain spiritual equilibrium and encourages a life of thanksgiving.

JEHOVAH’s benefits include things like forgiving our iniquities, healing our diseases, redeeming our lives from destruction, crowning us with loving kindness and tender mercies, and satisfying our taste buds with delicious nourishment to renew our strength. (Ps 103:2-5) Reminding ourselves, and recounting these blessings to others, is part of how we edify each other in our walk with God.

For example, a few weeks back, my wife and I had just closed on a house and we only had one house key. While she ran some errands, I went for a run on the beach, planning to return before she did and open the house for all the folks planning to deliver appliances, get final repairs done, etc. I put the key safely in the pocket of my gym shorts and headed off.

When I arrived at the beach, noticing only a handful of people as far as I could see in either direction, I stretched out and began my run, thanking God for the cool sunshine, running through the waves and meditating on scripture … it’s one of my favorite things to do.

At a good half-way mark, as I turned to head back, I realized the house key was no longer in my pocket! Somewhere in the last 1.5 miles, over the last quarter of an hour, it had fallen out, lost in the sand and/or the water!

I immediately began thinking what a total inconvenience this was going to be for everyone, particularly my wife, who’d arranged for all of these people to come over and get us set up in our new home! We’d need to call a locksmith and have him bust out the front door lock, reschedule all these appointments, and be without a refrigerator for who knows how much longer! The closing had already put each of us into some stress … and this was just flat out careless on my part! Needless! It would surely mar our joyful memories, especially hers, in finding and securing our “forever home” together.

Praying wasn’t an option — supplication poured out of me as instinctively as breath, begging God for mercy to help me find this tiny little key lost in thousands of yards of sand and waves … I wasn’t hopeful. My dread was palpable.

I began thinking it might have fallen out when I was stretching, lying down on my back in the sand, and that was at least a couple of times during this particular run. Could I find those places based on marks I’d left with my back on the beach? It was a bleak option, but it was my only hope, other than retracing my steps and examining the entire shoreline. That could take hours; I didn’t have that kind of time!

After hunting up and down a while, I finally found the last place I’d last stretched out and started searching carefully. Thankfully, there were so few people out the scene was just as I’d left it, far enough up on land to be undisturbed by the waves … but no key here, best I could tell. I could keep looking trying to find it here, or move on and hope it was back toward at the start of my run. I kept on running and praying, eyeing my earlier footprints and scanning the sand, returning back to where I’d started out.

I got back to the area where I’d begun, searched around a bit, and found a place where it looked like I’d stretched out, and then I recalled it was a couple of different locations, as I’d been hunting for a suitable spot I had tried at least three different places. First one place, then another, scanning the sand carefully and trying not to disturb anything. The dreadful feeling of helplessness and doom looming over me.

Then I saw it! WOW!! Silver, shining, lying on the sand undisturbed, right where I’d been stretching, the first place I’d laid down. How happy and thankful I was to see that little key I cannot say! Whether it was a real supernatural miracle or not really isn’t the point for me; it sure felt like one, another precious token of God’s merciful hand in my life, caring for me and redeeming my life from destruction, chaos, and pain, all of which I fully deserved. Should have been more careful with that key!!

It is of JEHOVAH’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness!” (La 3:22)

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3 thoughts on “All His Benefits”

  1. Another recent incident relates to a beautiful old dresser that my wife drove for an hour to buy from a retiree in the furniture restoration business. She’d been looking for a while to find the perfect piece, and she finally had it. She had just pulled up into the driveway and asked me to help her unload it.

    It was lying drawers-up feet-first in the back of our SUV, and as I began to try to move it, I realized how heavy it was, more solid than a typical dresser. I grabbed and lifted the base and began to work it back and forth along the carpeted car bed to try and drag it out, when suddenly I heard a rip at the top. I scurried around and noticed a great big splinter sticking out! The back of the dresser top had caught on some ribbing across the car floor and the back of the dresser was poorly made, quite fragile, a thin wood veneer top. The splinter was ugly, lots of little wood fragments sticking out, and my wife was more than a little upset! Her prize she’d worked so hard for was now a $200 piece of junk! What to do!

    Being new to the area, and also to this kind of problem, I didn’t know quite where to turn, and being a man, I certainly didn’t want go around asking the neighbors for help to get me out of my jam. But my wife suggested I go across the street to a handyman Steve she’d just heard about and ask him if he could help me out. Embarrassed and feeling no hope in my task, I went over sheepishly, introduced myself, and explained my dilemma.

    Steve was much nicer than I expected, a rugged, weather beaten, elderly looking gent. He immediately dropped what he was doing and said, “Well, it doesn’t sound good, but let’s take a look.” He came back with me to the house and examined the damage.

    He didn’t look hopeful, explaining that I’d need to sand down the top and paint it, which was hopeless — we’d never get it to look like it had at first, didn’t have that kind of paint or know where to find it. Then he said, “Let’s just put some glue on it and see how it goes.” He promptly tromped off back to his house and came back with an old bottle of wood glue and began chewing on the top to loosen it up. After a bit of massaging, he finally got all the splinters pinned down and smoothed over, then went back to his garage again and returned with the largest old vice I’d ever seen, at least 5 foot long, old as any antique, but perfect for clamping down on this dresser! (What you can do with the right TOOLS!) He fixed it up quick with some Vaseline and a block of wood (to keep the glue from sticking to the wood brace) and said he’d be back in a few hours to check it out.

    Later that afternoon he returned and pried off the vice. To my wonder, the splintered wound on that old dresser was actually beautiful, having the same kind of distressed appearance as the rest of the edges of the dresser! I was shocked. It was as if the dresser was improved by the damage! I couldn’t believe my eyes, and neither could my wife. Steve wished us well, refused any compensation for his help, and off he went.

    Again, how thankful I was for God and for Steve is hard to describe. I (hope I) re-learned a good “Look before ya leap” lesson, but again, it is just another reminder of the tender mercies of God, so many of which I don’t even know about. These images of His kindness, reminding me of His ultimate intent and heart towards me, are priceless!

  2. Just last week, I discovered that I had incorrectly set a parameter in a data file for a proof of concept performance test for a key customer. I had failed the PoC based on the result, but now the test was passing with flying colors! A single 0 turned to 1 made all the difference in this particular data set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the likes in 20 years of this kind of work. Simply stunning!

    It was a stupid, careless mistake on my part as well; I just didn’t see it! Not until our product team had investigated and tuned the data set properly. I was supposed to be the field expert, and I really blew this one! The effect could not have been more obvious, jerking the customer back and forth like a roller coaster, wasting our Product Development team’s precious time. How embarrassing!

    I quickly decided to own my mistake and pray for favor, which I did. I pointed out the problem, acknowledged my mistake to the project team, apologized to the customer, and reversed my PoC recommendation. The customer was actually quite pleased to get the news, even so late in the game, and gladly switched course to move forward with the solution. I got a little bit of flack from our project team, but it’s obvious to me that I’m getting some supernatural favor here … even from people who seem to enjoy biting other’s heads off, particularly my head! No question, I’m being let off easy on this one. Thank you JEHOVAH!

  3. One of my favorite memories is walking down the hallway of my squadron area at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) in the spring of 1981, and seeing an acquaintance from church walking up to meet me, totally unexpected and out of place.

    I was 18 and totally clueless, about life and spiritual things, as lost as anyone can be, but trying to follow God as best I knew at the time. Fred Stockton was a sergeant on base who went to my church, but I’d never seen him outside church and had never asked him for any kind of help … but he was coming to check on me.

    You see, I had just “punched out” of USAFA, throwing away a full scholarship, a stable career with full benefits and early retirement, and very likely also a Rhodes scholarship and significant prestige, all because I thought God wanted me to. But I was going against all wisdom, as well as the express and intense desire of my father, a career military man who cared for me in his own way as best he could. In spite of my father’s counsel, I was going to follow God as best I knew how, or die trying. So I was obediently throwing everything away.

    Had I made any plans for what I would do afterward? Did I have any place to go, or even a ride to get me there? You’d think, but not me. Just obey, head down, no planning, just go. All I owned was a few books and clothes. I was a thousand miles from any family, some church members in the area were my only acquaintances. I might have had $50 to my name, having given most all of my cadet pay to the church. I had no one to call, no phone numbers of anyone I knew, and no plan of any kind.

    Out-processing from USAFA normally takes several days, but my procedure only took 4 hours, and then it was over. Just like that, I was homeless. I asked my commanding officer if I could stay in my room one more night, but he refused me in disgust. I was gathering my few things out of my room and piling them up at the bottom of the stairwell, with no clue what I would do when I got done.

    I had one or two loads left when I saw Fred walking up to me in the hallway. He said he’d remembered me saying something a couple of weeks back about leaving the Academy, and he thought he would check in with me and see how it was going.

    “How odd!” I mused to myself. I had been talking about leaving the Academy for the better part of a year, and had only finally decided to go through with it a day or so earlier. Fred didn’t know what squadron I was in or how to reach me; he must have gone to a lot of trouble to hunt me down. But there he was, quirky old Fred, standing in front of me like an angel, sent to rescue me from homelessness and destitution.

    Fred helped me with the last load of books and clothes, followed me down the stairwell, brought around his pickup truck and helped me load it all in. Then he took me to a 7-11, bought me a Slurpee, took me to his apartment, set me up on an old couch and told me I could stay until I found work and got on my feet. He said I reminded him of Abraham leaving his country.

    Life wasn’t easy after that. There was agony I cannot even begin to accurately describe, as I learned about life by making mistake after mistake. Yet God was always with me, delivered me from the cult of that church and religion, which I thought I was called to preach in. He saved me a few years later, finally.

    To this day, I can’t say for sure if it was God telling me to leave USAFA, or the enemy; I tend to think it was the enemy trying to destroy me. The “call to the ministry” was certainly not of God; and now I wish I’d listened to my father’s wisdom. What I do know for sure is that God took care of me and was extremely merciful to me. His goodness and faithfulness to me back then… before I even knew Him or what I was doing … is a testament to His loving kindness.

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