Today I am recalling words from, Pastor Pat Crisler, who spoke at Lynn Messer’s memorial service. A few phrases from the eulogy piqued my curiosity to a possibility…
“Lynn always loved education and learning new things. She later in life went on to college learning soil sciences, and agriculture which she was able to use later by serving on the local Soil and Water Board.
Lynn fell in love with foreign missions in Ecuador where she made numerous trips, made friends, and was looking forward to not only teaching and leading people to the Lord, but also was making plans to use her knowledge of soil science to help teach the indigenous people of Ecuador how to use their natural resources to better provide for their families.”
…I’ve thought about the possibility, prayed about it, and studied more about it since hearing the words. Then today I pulled up Pat’s notes which he sent at my request and with Abram Messer’s permission. (I used the eulogy a few weeks ago here…) To my utter delight I found the title of Pat’s message is part of the Bible study I’ve been doing for this exact blog post.
The words from Pat’s message reminded me of something that happened in my life; a reversal of destiny.
Let me explain a bit. The reversal is called a chiastic structure and I learned about in the study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman written by Beth Moore.
Examples: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
To help you understand where I’m going with this; below is the title of the message and a few abbreviated points from, Pastor Pat Chrisler.
Message Title: FOR A SUDDEN, UNEXPECTED DEATH
Mark 4:35-41 (HCSB)
Wind and Wave Obey the Master
35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” 41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Seeking a break from the demand of the excited crowds, Jesus took a boat, and with some of his disciples, sailed off for some rest and relaxation. Suddenly their leisure day was disrupted by a violent storm. In that sudden storm, Jesus did an astounding thing. And in that we learn some things which can help us in the light of the devastating experience we seek to navigate through based on these last two years, and in the days to come.
First of all, we are reminded although the Sovereign of the universe is on the boat, it is no guarantee against the sudden—in this case, verse 37 tells us, a sudden storm.
Second, it may appear in these sudden experiences of life, which grieve us and threaten our sense of God’s nearness and care, that God is not doing anything.
Third, we can respond like Jesus’ disciples. Fear can replace faith. Jesus did hear their cries for help. He sprang into action. He spoke, and the winds ceased and the waves curled up around His feet like submissive tigers under the voice of their trainer. He then asked a penetrating question, “Why are you so afraid?”
When the sudden comes in our lives, the Sovereign Savior is looking for us to look at him.
Sudden storms also serve to turn us to Jesus as we see in verse 38.
The Sovereign of the Sudden does something else in our storms. He will assist others—who see us coming through our assault—so they too may find blessings in the storms they are facing.
Finally, storms remind us the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control. In verse 41 the disciples were overwhelmed by what they had seen. They had a new fear: a reverential fear. They had seen Jesus, with a word, rebuke wind and waves. They were reminded the Sovereign of the Sudden is in control when everything else seems to be totally out of control.
God’s plan and purpose for Lynn and for our lives are not subject to whims, accidents, circumstances, illnesses, and evil. God works through these to bring about his will.
We are not expecting the situation we have been put into. But what we do before any event in our lives is in preparation for how we handle the event. We have two options, we can react or we can respond. When you react it is negative when you respond it is positive. God allows us the choice to handle adversity either looking at it from a worldly lens or looking at it from His perspective.
It could be sort of like if one of Lynn’s grandkids were playing on her living room floor and looked up and saw her sewing a cross-stitch. From their perspective on the floor looking up they might say, “Grandma what are you doing, you are not making any sense, it looks like a mess?” Lynn would respond by saying, “I got it, I’m making a beautiful picture.” But all the child could see from where they sit was a mess. From Lynn’s perspective she responded with “I have this; I’m making a beautiful picture.” It would not be until the grandchild would stand up and walk around the chair so they are now looking over Grandmas shoulder would they be able to see and appreciate how beautiful a creation Lynn had truly been making all this time. Often times we look up into the heavens and we say, “God what are you doing? It doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand.”
All we see from our perspective is a messed up tapestry and yet God is saying, “From My perspective I am making a beautiful picture, do you trust me?” In those moments when you can’t TRACE THE HAND OF GOD, YOU HAVE TO TRUST THE HEART OF GOD!
We read in the book of Esther a celebration of a reversal of destiny. Although we read nothing of God in the book of Esther, the life of Esther has the fingerprints and heart of God all over it. History shows us what Esther at the moment couldn’t see. Yet she remained obedient to what she knew to be true. This is a wise and beautiful lesson for us today. When we can’t figure out what God is doing, where He is, perhaps we can’t sense His presence and we wonder if we will ever find Him; we must remember God is there. Some day we will look back on the most important or difficult times in our life and we will see God all over it! It may look like it took months, years, or a life time for the something to happen yet we will often see it had a turning point that was sudden.
In the book of Esther, everything Haman meant for evil; for the death of Mordicai and the destruction, slaughter and annihilation of the Jews; God suddenly reversed allowing the plans to be used against Haman, and provided for His chosen people to be saved. The intervention can only be explained as a work of God.
Here are more scriptural reversals of destinies:
- Joseph’s brothers decided to harm him. They sold him to get rid of him. Joseph later sells food to his brothers to save them: Joseph’s brothers hated him and refused to listen to anymore of his, “You bow down to me dreams.” His brothers sold him to merchants on their way to Egypt. While in Egypt Joseph interpreted dreams, became 2nd in command over all of Egypt, saved his brothers, his father and their families, and the brothers bowed down before Joseph. Sold as a slave; becomes a ruler. Genesis 37-45
- Pharaoh’s horses and riders surround the Israelites at the Red Sea. The Red Sea surrounds and drowns Pharaoh’s horses and riders. Exodus 14
- King Nebuchadnezzar, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” He is driven away from people to live as a wild animal outside his kingdom. After 7 years King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. God restores Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity and kingdom to him. Daniel 4
- King Darius’ men falsely accused Daniel so Daniel would be thrown in the lion’s den to his death. God saved Daniel, and the King’s men were thrown in the lion’s den to their deaths. Daniel 6
The Book of Esther
- Queen Vashti was summoned to be seen. Suddenly she was seen no more.¹
- Haddasah an orphaned Jewish girl among the exiles; the least and the last to ever be chosen becomes the Queen of Persia; royalty, wife of King Xerxes.
- Haman who thought he had planned his own parade of honor suddenly finds himself parading around the person in his world who he hated the most; Mordicai.
- Haman builds a 75 foot high pole in which to hang Mordicai but suddenly finds himself hanged on the very pole.
- The irrevocable edict that will destroy, kill and annihilate the Jewish people and nation suddenly allows for the Jewish people to do the very same to anyone who tries to kill them.
The reversal that happened to Haman is a warning to us that vicious consequences can happen to us when planning violent acts or traps for others.
- “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” II Cor. 5:21
- From darkness to light: “and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”Col. 1:12-13
- “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” I Peter 2:10
- Robber on the cross, not a believer, who was at that moment destined to hell; confessed with his mouth and suddenly, within minutes, found himself in heaven. Luke 23
- Peter and John were fishers of fish who became fishers of men.
- Paul: A persecutor of Christians became the persecuted.
- Rich man; poor man, the rich man and Lazarus died and went different paths. The rich man enjoyed all his good on the earth and his agony in eternity. The poor man, Lazarus, received bad things on earth and comfort for eternity. Luke 16
When life feels heavy and bleak; as if the time for finding an answer is about to expire, we must remember that for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, God sees us and He is actively at work in our lives.
As I was listening to, Pastor Pat Crisler, speak at Lynn’s memorial service the idea of praying about a reversal popped into my mind.
Remember how Lynn studied soil and wanted to help others through that studying? Put it in terms of a reversal:
Lynn studied soil to reveal a better life—end of life will be revealed through the study of soil.
If someone was responsible for her death: Whoever hides the death of Lynn on soil—from the soil they will be found out.
Remember: the forensics testing has not yet concluded and the results have not been released. If I read or heard on the news correctly, the FBI took soil samples which means they will be looking at all the layers of soil, fallen leaves and natural debris to see if it matches up with what was found on and around Lynn’s remains. It could possibly reveal if Lynn’s remains were located there the entire 2 years and 4 months, or if she was placed there after the fact. Forensic Soil Analysis is the use of soil sciences and other disciplines to aid in criminal investigation. Soils are like fingerprints because every type of soil that exists has unique properties that act as identification markers.²
God, through scripture, has set the precedence that reversals can happen; which means we have permission and authority to pray for one. In doing so, let’s speak the Holy Spirit’s language: Scripture. As we ask our mediator, Jesus Christ, to present our requests to our Heavenly Father we can be assured that our desires are in line with what God can do and has delighted to do throughout history. If a crime was committed against Lynn Messer, let us together seek a reversal of destiny for the person or persons who need to be brought to justice. Lynn’s family longs for answers and justice over this traumatic event through which they are currently living.
All the ‘sudden’ unknowns to us are known by God. When the enemy interjects events and plans into our lives he thankfully doesn’t have the last say. Christ does! And Christ can intervene any way of his choosing. God can use the horrific, the thing we hate doing the most, and/or the crime or abuse that has been committed against us for good; it’s scriptural: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28 (NET)
Let’s agree in prayer and pray these scriptures over the Lynn Messer case:
Matthew 18:19 (NIV)
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
Proverbs 13:16 (NIV)
All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
Proverbs 16:22 (NIV)
Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.
Proverbs 18:6 (NIV) – The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.
Proverbs 18:7 (NIV) – The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives
Proverbs 26:27 (NIV) Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them…
Ecclesiastes 4:5 (NIV) – Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.
Psalm 52 (NIV)
1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
2 You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
3 You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
4 You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
6 The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”
8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
If there was deceit in Lynn’s sudden death we pray for the evidence to show truth and sudden revelation.
As was the case with my reversal of destiny, God was using the lapse of time to bring not just temporary protection and deliverance but permanent protection, deliverance and justice. God knows the truth of what happened to Lynn. Let’s pray for the investigators to find truth and gain closure.
Let’s pray specifically. If we ask for nothing we can’t be disappointed. I like to throw caution to the wind; after all, our Great God commands the wind! I’m well aware that God is not a genie in a bottle. He answers in His time and His way with His Father heart full of love, mercy and wisdom, and sometimes the answer is—no, or not yet. But…when we specifically pray; God often precisely answers. When He does answer, and I know it’s an answer to a question or request I prayed, there is nothing more exhilarating than watching my little, tiny mustard seed of faith through prayer move Heaven. Knowing the God of all creation loves me, hears me, and interacts with me is the most fun, the highest high, the coziest comfort, and the biggest gift—EVER! All while knowing I did nothing to deserve it. I simply pray for His heart and will to be done and that He will override my wants with His best; basing my prayers on His words; scripture.
I’ll add to, Pastor Pat Crisler’s, message title…For a Sudden, Unexpected Death, An Unexpected, Sudden Answer.
Thank you for joining in this prayer.
¹Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, Beth Moore; LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 2008