07 April 2010

An Angel named Jonathan

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Ok, maybe not exactly an “on point” scripture for the story I am about to tell, but it will have to do. Yesterday, I met an angel sent by God just for me.

I work an alternate work shift, and as a result, I go into work when most people are on their way home. This usually means that I am going against traffic during my commute to work, but yesterday, due to an accident on one of the major highways in my city, I was travelling in a bunch of unusual traffic. In retrospect, that was a blessing since traffic was slowed to a “normal” pace as opposed to the usual Autobon-like traffic most Atlantans are used to. But I am getting ahead of myself and my story.

About three months ago, I was in a car accident. A minor fender-bender that should have been a quick fix by a mechanic that ended up totaling out our car. Blessed to have a second car, I kept moving forward, but noticed that a “check battery light” was continually lit on my dashboard. I took the car to two mechanics who could not find anything wrong with the battery, but told me to keep an eye on it, and that if I noticed my dashboard lights dimming, I should be careful as it would probably indicate an alternator issue. Shortly after this diagnosis, the light went off and life continued. Until about a week ago, when the light came back on. Mindful of what I was told before, I kept an eye on the dashboard lights, but everything seemed fine, so I kept driving.

Then spring-like weather hit the city of Atlanta. Overnight, temperature soared into the 70s and 80s, which meant air-conditioning became a necessity during my commute to work. Yesterday, as I was driving to work, I turned on the air-conditioning and noticed that the light to indicate it was working did not turn on, and the air was not blowing as cool as normal. I wasn’t overly concerned until I noticed the arrow on my RPM gauge acting kind of funny – flickering back and forth – and then suddenly dropping to zero. Then the speedometer arrow did the same thing. Ok, now I’m getting nervous and start moving toward the right shoulder of the highway. The car is still moving and I’m not really THAT far from work, so maybe I’ll be ok. Right? Wrong. Remember, I said there was an accident ahead. Yeah, traffic slowed to a stop and when I stopped, the car stopped…dead…as a doornail…in the right travel lane…on a major Atlanta highway. NOT GOOD.

But I had my cell phone and help was only a phone call away. I called 911 dispatch, only to be dropped and disconnected before they could get all my information. A second call to the 911 dispatch yielded better results, but no indication of when help would arrive. By now, I’m causing a traffic jam because, since I had no hazard lights or any other way to let motorists behind me know I was in trouble, many of them were coming all the way to the rear end of my car before realizing that I was not moving and then they couldn’t get over into the flow of moving traffic. And can I just say, people can be so mean – I got dirty looks and I think there were even finger gestures … like I wanted to be stuck on I-20 with out proper hazard lights flashing. NOT! And then my cell phone rang. It was the Georgia Department of Transportation…they were trying to send help my way, but couldn’t locate my car on the traffic cameras. Oh joy. By now, I’m more than just a little nervous and probably on the verge of mild hysteria. Phone calls to my mother and my co-workers hadn’t help since their hysteria only fueled my own. Anyway, I’m talking to the DOT representative when I see a tow truck getting off the exit and pulling behind me. Due to his flashing lights, motorists coming up behind me now know that I’m in trouble and are a little kinder as they zoom past me on the way to their destinations.

My angel’s name was Jonathan and he works for a towing company, A Tow located in Alpharetta, GA. He’d just left having lunch with his wife and was on his way to a call of another stranded motorist when he sees my car stopped on the highway. He tells me that as he was exiting to get onto I-20, he wondered why I wasn’t moving when it hit him that I was in trouble. He calmed me down, he called me “ma’am” (yeah, I have a little issue with that!) and then drove me to my uncle’s mechanic’s shop – which “just happened” to be at the same exit off of I-20 as the other stranded motorist he was on his way to help. I told him that he was an angel sent by God to assist me in my time of distress. My uncle told him the same thing when we arrived at his shop. I am sure, when he woke up yesterday morning, he didn’t know he was going to be used by God to be my angel. But I am sure glad that God knew I would need one around 3:00 yesterday afternoon and He sent Jonathan just on time, right on time, just for me.

So, as I said when I started this, my scripture above may not be “right on point”, but I believe there are angels walking among us to do God’s bidding. Maybe there are even times when we are used as angels for God. Just a thought. I’m glad Jonathan was there for me. I hope I can be there for whoever God needs me to be an angel for.

Be blessed.

© 2010 Kristina E. Smith
Wednesday, April 07, 2010

02 April 2010

Jealousy is so unbecoming…

According to dictionary.com, jealousy can be defined in four ways. Here are the top two: 1. jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself; and 2. mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.

I’ve been thinking a lot about jealousy lately – and the things that I find myself being jealous of. A friend’s new romantic relationship. The pomp and circumstance of another friend’s wedding. Another friend’s recent vacation to an exotic beach location. A friend who scored tickets to a hot NYC concert. The hug that one friend got from the cute attorney who used to work in the Atlanta office, but has now been transferred to another office location in the firm. That house. That car. Her clothes and hair and athletic, fit and nauseatingly skinny body. That seemingly carefree lifestyle with little or no – ok, without my personal responsibilities, cares and woes. Yeah, I’ve been feeling a little jealous lately about a lot of people and a lot of trivial things.

But upon close examination, my jealous feelings are not (necessarily) about wanting those things listed above: I have no desire to put in the work necessary to make a relationship work. And some exotic beach vacations come with sunburn, weird foods, and scratchy hotel sheets. Those concert tickets might be nosebleed seats where the acoustics are bad. Bigger cars and houses come with larger car payments and utility bills. I KNOW there are drawbacks to every scenario – the grass may look greener, but the water bill to keep that grass green may be higher than I want to pay. Deep down, where it counts, I KNOW all that. But it still doesn’t stop the moments where I feel my skin turning green and my thoughts turning … well, evil.

Saul had this same problem with that young upstart, David. I mean, here he is … king of Israel. The first one, at that. He was specifically chosen to lead the children of Israel when they decided God wasn’t leader enough and they wanted / desired / needed a king of their own so they could be like all the other nations around them. (SIDEBAR: Weren’t the children of Israel called to be different, though – didn’t I read somewhere that they were supposed to be a “peculiar” people? How you gonna be “peculiar” if you just like everybody else? Hmmm…let me get back to you on that one.) Anyway, so here’s Saul, sorry…here’s King Saul – in his palace, feeling like the great one that he is, when he hears the women out in the courtyard singing, “Yeah, Saul is great and all that, but David…now he’s the MAN!” The Bible says that Saul was “tormented” when he heard this and at that moment, began to plot against David. In other words, his “jealousy” of David moved him to think evil thoughts and eventually led him to begin to plot David’s murder. Wow.

Don’t condemn Saul too much. After all, he wasn’t the first Biblical character to feel this way. It started in heaven. Lucifer was jealous of Michael (Jesus). It wasn’t enough that he was the covering cherub and spent every day in the very presence of God. He got all bent out of shape because he wasn’t in the “inner” circle with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When the Godhead was planning creation, he wasn’t included in the conversation and it ate at his soul. When the plan of salvation was being formed, he wasn’t offered the role of Savior and Redeemer and this made him angry. So he began to plot to “murder” Jesus. Ok, sure: in heaven, it was just the assassination of Jesus’ character, but when that didn’t work and he got booted out of heaven and banished to earth, when he saw his opportunity, he did murder Jesus. Hung Him on a cross, between two thieves, on Golgotha’s hill. His jealousies in heaven led to death here on earth.

Now, I am probably not going to "take out" any of my friends because they drive a better car, live in a bigger house, go home with a fine man every night. (Probably not – let’s pray to that end!) But if I harbor too many of those thoughts for too long a period of time, it will affect me from the inside out and may manifest itself in outwardly harmful actions.

There is a saying, a portion of which states: Be mindful of your thoughts for they become actions. Jealous thoughts harbored and revisited over and over again, can lead to actions with disastrous results. Is it really worth it? Ask Saul – he eventually lost his mental capabilities and the kingdom. Ask Lucifer. It might look like he’s winning right now, but the Bible tells me that he is already a defeated foe – it’s just a matter of time. I don’t think it’s worth it, do you?

Be blessed.

© 2010 Kristina E. Smith
Friday, 02 April, 2010

01 April 2010

Sunday’s on the way…

Easter is coming and as Christians, we know this coming Sunday is not about a big bunny rabbit hiding eggs and chocolate in the grass. It is not even about the new outfit that you purchased to wear to church this weekend. Easter is about a Christian’s greatest hope and about God’s greatest gift to His children. It doesn’t matter that Christ gave up heaven, took on the form of mankind by being born as a baby, lived a perfect and holy life for 33½ years, was tortured, despised, spit upon and hung on a cross: none of that matters if Sunday didn’t happen. It is with the resurrection on Easter Sunday that the plan of salvation for my soul (and yours) was completed. It is with Christ’s victory over death and the grave that our salvation is ensured and guaranteed, if we accept it. But to get to Easter Sunday, Christ had to go through Friday night.

The gospel group TAKE 6 has a song on their second album called, SUNDAY’S ON THE WAY, that takes a kind of comical look at what Satan and his angels go through on that Easter weekend over 2000 years ago. Having crucified Christ, the enemy and his imps are celebrating – having a little party at their victory. But Satan isn’t as into the celebration as one would think he would be. We often diminish the enemy by putting him in a red suit with a pitchfork in one hand and a silly smile on his face, but the Bible tells us that he was (and is) a scholar of the Bible, so when Christ hung on the tree on that fateful Friday evening and cried out to the Father “It is finished,” Satan may have had a moment of patting himself on the back thinking he’d accomplished his goal to destroy Christ, but he also remembered hearing Christ say, “in three days, I will rise again.”

So, picture the scene: it’s Friday night. Christ has been crucified. His body has been quickly laid to rest in a tomb borrowed from one of His disciples so that, even in death, He could rest and celebrate the Sabbath. The disciples are scattered because of fear that they, like Christ, will be put to death. Mary, mother of Jesus, is grieving the inconsolable loss of her son. The priests in the temple are trying to figure out how the curtain between the Holy and the Most Holy place got torn from top to bottom like that. People are all shook up from the earthquake that just hit. Judas is hanging from a tree in disgrace for his betrayal of an innocent Man. It is just bad news all around. Seems like there is no reason for hope.

I know there have been times in my life when I have had a “Friday night before Easter” experience. Relationships torn asunder, bank accounts depleted, utilities turned off, no food in the fridge, and every prayer sent heavenward appeared to bounce off the ceiling – unheard and seemingly unanswered. In the lyrics of my friends’ song, the chorus says:

On Friday night, they crucified the Lord at Calvary
He said, “Don’t fret because in three days, I’m gonna live again
You’re gonna see
So, when problems try to bury you (six feet deep)
And make it hard for you to pray
May seem like that Friday night

And therein lies the greatness of that Easter Sunday morning long long ago. When Christ rose EARLY on Sunday morning, He rose with victory and “resurrection power” – and the enemy of our souls was defeated. With His rising on Sunday morning, our salvation was…is assured. That is much more important than dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies or new outfits for church, don’t you think?

If you are going through a “Friday night” experience, I encourage you to hold on…Sunday…and your victory over whatever you are going through…is on the way.

Be blessed.

© 2010 Kristina E. Smith
Thursday, 01 April, 2010