"Our part is to cooperate with Him in focus, gaze and attention (Psalm 27), so that the pathway through the coming furnace (as in Matthew 24:21) becomes a delight rather than a trauma, because we see Yeshua right by our side." - Yoni Koski
Matthew 24:21 says, "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equaled again."
The constant, continuing barrage of carnage and death in American schools, restaurants, concerts and night clubs truly does feel like great distress that is building in intensity. No wonder the Lord described it as birth pains, which continually increase in great pain and distress, until finally, the baby emerges and joy overtakes the pain.
A kingdom is being birthed! Our part is to cooperate with Yeshua in focus, gaze and attention so that as we move through the coming furnace of affliction, it will become a delight because we SEE HIM RIGHT BY OUR SIDE.
Before I begin this tale of our car breakdown, I want to be quick to say that I know this does not really qualify as a "furnace of affliction," or a great distress. However, it was indeed a challenging situation and I knew the Lord was using it to show us how faithfully and lovingly He would walk right by our side through every moment of this challenge.
We left home on February 9th for a three-week trip of ministry and visiting family. We were scheduled for a weekend of ministry with a congregation in Lucedale, Mississippi and then a 70th birthday party for John with all the generations of his family gathered in Alabama, followed by visits with my son and family in Pennsylvania and my sister in Illinois. However, we got as far as BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma and our faithful old 2002 Yukon Denali breathed her last and died!
Driving through heavy traffic on the big Broken Arrow Expressway, I felt a sudden urgency that we should pull off onto an exit. I wondered why. John still had coffee, I didn't need to use the bathroom, and we hadn't been on the road long enough to trade drivers. What was the urgency? Yet, it continued, so I simply said, "John, would you pull off at the next exit?" He ignored me and drove right on past. The urgency intensified. "John, please would you pull off on this next exit?"
"Do you need a restroom?"
"No, but could we just exit off for a minute?" Again he did not respond and drove on past. Finally, as we approached the third exit, I guess he heard the pleading in my voice and he quickly made his way across several lanes and took the third exit. When we got to the top of the exit ramp, there was a loud, startling bang at the rear of the car and then it would not move forward or backward. John jumped out of the car, thinking we'd been hit from the rear, but that had not happened. The car behind us was several feet back, waiting for us to move. But by some amazing "coincidence," there was a large concrete pad, almost exactly the size of our long vehicle, just beside us, where we could pull over and get out of traffic. Single-handedly John began to push and steer this heavy, disabled vehicle over to the right, and I was in awe at his strength, concerned about his heart as he would have to strain so hard to move it. Later, I was filled with the certain knowledge that an angel had helped him, because this was really too difficult for one person to do! Yeshua was right beside us.
Once the car was pulled over, he realized it wasn't going to stay there, it was going to roll, and would not remain in park. I scrambled down the hill alongside us and found a large stone, about 25 pounds heavy, and brought it up to place in front of the tire, to keep the car in place. We called a tow truck and he towed us to the Chevy dealership that "just happened to be" only a mile and a half away. I pondered what could have happened to us had we not made an exit off that busy expressway. The car would have suddenly died in all that 75-mile-per hour traffic and.... well, you can imagine. Yeshua was right beside us! The Holy Spirit had guided us. Angels gave us strength and protected us.
As we rode in the tow truck cab, I suddenly panicked, realizing I did not have my cell phone. "Oh no! All my contacts! All my maps for the journey! My lifeline!" Delivering us safely to the Chevy dealer, the tow truck driver gently told me, "I have another call, but I'll take the time to go back to where you broke down and look for your phone."
Seriously? Have you ever seen a busy tow truck driver offer to go back and look for something you dropped? This one did, and in about ten minutes' time he returned from the place of our break-down and handed me my phone. Yeshua was right beside us.
Now came the biggest miracle of all - fitting the tremendous amount of STUFF from the big, roomy SUV into this sedan. Doubt pervaded my mind. No way! We had lots of hanging clothes, two suitcases plus the suitcase full of books and CDs, paper sacks full of our road munchies, a huge cooler full of lunch food and drinks, John's water filter, and a couple of very large emergency supply bins we always travel with. I was certain it would never fit - but the little car salesman was very motivated to make the sale! He scurried around like a squirrel burying nuts for the winter, and somehow, everything got tucked, folded or scrunched into a space. I was truly amazed. Yeshua was with us.
It was dark and we were tired, hungry, and behind our schedule now by a day. Where to spend the night? We drove two miles to where we saw all the usual hotel signs: LaQuinta, Marriott, Double Tree. Expensive! Way above our price range. John looked down the hill below and said, "Look at that building. Is that a hotel?" Exhausted, I replied, "I don't know, but we can go see."
It was an elegant facility known as the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. We approached the reception desk and spoke to Benjamin. "Do you have a room available?" To my astonishment Benjamin said they had a standard king room and with my AAA discount the price was $80.00; less than a Super 8 in this area! I was grateful and handed him my credit card. While he checked us in, I shared with him the events of our day. Completing the check-in process, he handed me a key and whispered, "I gave you an upgrade. Enjoy."
Wearily, we lugged the suitcases up to the third floor and as we approached the room, I noticed it had a sign above the door that read "CABIN SUITE." We turned the key and my heart was simply flooded with the deep, abiding sense that Yeshua was not only right beside us, but making this pathway through the furnace a DELIGHT! It was the biggest hotel room I've ever seen in my life - decorated like a lovely cabin in the forest, with wood beam ceilings, paintings of bears and elk on the walls, a huge hot tub and an over-sized four-poster king bed. It felt like God was wrapping us in His huge arms with a loving hug, letting us know that in the midst of adversity He would not only be with us, but bless us.
Our part is to cooperate with Him in focus, gaze and attention. Psalm 27: 4-5: One thing I ask of the LORD, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock."