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“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71)

He was hired by a major league baseball team to help get them to the World Series, and when they got there – he ended up sitting on the bench. In 2007, pitcher Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. At that time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He was at the top of his game, in peak physical condition and had the kind of financial security most people can only dream of. He posted double-digit wins in his first three seasons, and in 2010 he helped his team win their first championship in 56 years. However, he struggled the last month of the season resulting in him being left off the postseason roster. Watching from a distance as his team won the World Series, Zito’s career declined over the next few years while he came face-to-face with the destructiveness of his own ego, eventually hitting rock bottom. Raised in a metaphysical church, he was known for his idiosyncrasies and offbeat personality. Zito has said, “Having placed my full identity into my baseball career for most of my life, only to have it stripped away during the 2010 World Series run is what led me to discover my true identity. Not in a game, but in Jesus Christ.” When God finally got his attention, Zito was confronted with the truth that he was loved no matter what he achieved. In his 2019 book release, Curveball, Zito shares his story of a man who had everything except happiness.

Have you noticed that there are times God has to do something fairly dramatic to get some people’s attention? He will occasionally stage a grand intervention or an interruption of our plans in order to persuade us to change course. That’s what happened to Saul of Tarsus who was threatening to imprison and murder the Lord’s followers while traveling his way to Damascus. It is hard to imagine a more dramatic interruption than flashes of what seems to be lightning, leading to a fall followed by blindness, and then Jesus speaking directly to you. God pulled out all the stops to get Saul’s attention. It was there, lying on the ground, that Saul is able to hear a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:1-4). And that is the gift that God gave to Saul: after three days of blindness, he is baptized, his sight is restored, and he is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18).  God stages a grand intervention for Saul by intruding on his plans and re-routing his entire life, giving him work to do that will change the world forever. Likewise, in Exodus 3:1-11, we find Moses halting his daily routine to check out a burning bush that was not being consumed. Out of this unusual experience – God spoke to him, and gave him an important assignment. And then there was Jonah who ran from God. He was led through a course of events (Jonah 1:1-17) during which he was thrown into the sea and ending up in the belly of a great fish. God used this humbling process to get Jonah’s attention. It was when he was at his lowest that Jonah was fully prepared to go in the direction in which God had called him (Jonah 3:2-3).

There are times in each of our lives when God has to knock us off our feet so we can stop, look up, and see Jesus. In the same way, there are occasions when He will use simple methods as a ‘wake-up’ call. We may be going about the routine of our work, or engaged in church or home life, when a restlessness begins to stir within our spirit.  We might not be able to put a finger on it. We don’t know why it is happening, but we feel an uneasiness in our hearts. When such a time comes, the wise thing to do is to stop and ask the Lord what he is trying to say. Perhaps His message will be revealed through the modest words of a friend or loved one. He might speak to us through a Bible verse that we haven’t read before or enlighten us with new-found understanding of a passage we have read many times. In ways we do not always understand, Jesus continues to call on His servants. The Apostle Paul said: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Father always knows exactly where we are in our journey of faith and precisely what it will take to direct us. Then He grabs our attention, equips us with His Holy Spirit, and sets us on our way to do work that is pleasing to Him . . . thereby making the world a better place.

REFLECTION: Where were you when God last got you to truly notice Him? Have you ever thought about where you would be if the Lord didn’t use humbling circumstances to not only get your attention, but to also keep it? Could it be that He’s using your current period of difficulty for redirection so He can use you for His purposes and lead you into a new season of blessing? Would you be able to share with others how God used some failure or circumstance to get your attention?



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