July, 2021 – “Squeezed”

July, 2021 – “Squeezed”

Several years ago, I was listening to a well known preacher on my car radio.  He was giving the most amazing message – and one that I needed desperately to hear.  His message concerned Joseph (of the Old Testament) – and how, despite everything Joseph had had to go through, he never retaliated!  He not only had no need to retaliate against his brothers who sold him into slavery, but ultimately, repaid them with extreme kindness.  He, also, didn’t find the need to retaliate when Pharoah’s cupbearer and chief baker forgot him in prison.  And then, he didn’t find it necessary to retaliate when Pharoah’s wife accused him of wrongdoing.  Truly, a ‘type of Christ’.

As I was listening to the message, I was overwhelmed at how much I needed to be like Joseph – to be like Christ.  And I promised God with His help to reconstruct my life – to be godly and kind like Joseph and non-retaliatory.  I meant it more than I had ever meant anything in my life.  I felt like my life was going to be different – I was. Going. To. Be. Different. Like Joseph!!

At that very moment, I needed to take a right turn onto a little back road.  As I turned the corner past the trees where I could see, there was a logging truck passing another vehicle and coming straight – dead on – for me.  And dead-on, it nearly was!!  My heart leapt into my throat – I couldn’t breathe – I had to drive on a lawn to get out of his way – but when I could with my chest heaving in fear, I looked that truck driver right in the eye as he was squeezing by me, and said “You idiot!!” with all the vehemence/the fury I could possibly muster up.  My four year-old son was in the backseat – in his car seat – he could have been killed! We could have been killed!!

That all happened in a second!  Having just promised God with everything in me that, with His help, I would set aside the need to retaliate – I not only desired retaliation, but such anger and bitterness in me reared its ugly head towards the driver of the truck.  Still trying to quiet down and get my heart beat back to some approximation of normalcy, I was so ashamed of myself.  I cried out, “How could I, Lord?”  How could I mean something with all my heart one minute, and absolutely blow it to smithereens the next?  I think God was trying to teach me something — that we truly are frail creatures, physically, emotionally, and spiritually — that we can and should spend a lifetime of wanting to come closer to Christ.  That is really all He wants is for us to ‘want to’ – despite our failures along the way.

A more recent lesson in this area for me was from a message my pastor preached a few Sundays ago.  As he was relating Jacob’s life from the Old Testament, he referred to our tough times and our reactions as being ‘squeezed’.  When something such as a tube or a plastic bottle is squeezed, whatever is inside comes out.  Jacob was truly ‘squeezed’ – put into a stress situation when he met Esau coming across the valley after not having seen him for years.  What was in Jacob’s heart came out.  It was nothing but compassion for his brother.

Not an hour later I was driving on Rt. 1 in N. Attleboro when the SUV in front of me stopped abruptly.  I mean the ‘stopped-on-a-dime’ kind of stop.  I jammed my breaks on – my car went sideways – and I’m sure I left a healthy amount of rubber on the highway.  My heart was beating as to nearly be seen through my clothing – I had an instant headache – and once again called out, “You idiot!!”   I had been ‘squeezed’ – and what was inside me came out.  Not very pleasant stuff . . .

And it was only then after catching my breath that I said, “Thank You, Jesus, for not letting me (or anyone else) be hurt”.   You would think that over all these years, I would have grown more in Christ – that I would have thought to say ‘thank You, Jesus’ first – and then maybe not ‘you idiot’ at all.  I am amazed by God’s grace – by His patience with me – His unconditional love – and His forgiveness.  I am so undeserving!  But, He sees me – justified.   Thankfully . . .

. . .  ‘neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including undesirable stuff that comes out of us when we are squeezed), will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ – Romans 8.39