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For Good

Updated: Jun 2

A couple weeks ago, we visited my family in Denmark. As part of the visit, we rented a beach house for a week on the far western coast of Denmark. Literally, the next stop would be England. The beach was long and flat with sand dunes. It reminded me of Long Beach in Washington. It went for miles and miles: flat and unbroken. Well, not exactly unbroken. In the middle of the beach was a concrete monolith half buried in the sand. The exposed surface was about 25 feet square. As I got closer, I saw that it was a concrete machine gun bunker from World War Two. As I looked up and down the beach, I saw another, and then another. They were all over. They were spread up and down the beach about every two or three hundred yards. This was part of the Nazi Atlantic Wall that was supposed to be impregnable and repel any Allied invasion. We normally think of the Atlantic Wall as part of France and Normandy, but it actually extended all the way up the coast, around Denmark and up into Norway.

I’m sure the Danes wanted to get rid of these bunkers that dotted their beaches. But these things, even the small ones, weigh hundreds of tons. The cost would be enormous to remove them. So, they were treated in the usual Danish way: whimsy. Put a tail on one end and a horse’s head on the other. Bingo. A concrete gun emplacement becomes a fun statue of a horse. The Nazis meant it for one thing. The Danes turned it into something fun and positive. There has to be a sermon illustration here somewhere!

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, they meant to get rid of him for good. But there was something larger at play. God knew that Jacob’s family was vulnerable in Canaan and would need protection as they grew in numbers. Of course, He could have used any one of a number of ways to keep them safe. But He used this horrible situation with Joseph to pave the way for the safety and protection of Jacob’s family. Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

I was living in Chile when my daughter Pammy was born. Due to a sequence of events, we had no income for about thirty days. We lived off unleavened bread and five year old dried beans. We literally didn’t have the five cents needed to buy yeast. This was scary bad. Yet, I learned what it was like to go to bed hungry and not know where my next meal would come from. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20) I learned a lot about trusting in God, empathy and appreciating what I did have. I had a roof and a place to lay my head.

In the early 1990’s, my electrical contracting business failed when two clients defaulted on about half a million dollars. For me, it might as well have been a billion. Another scary, bad situation. I learned quickly that the IRS and Washington Department of Revenue do not have a sense of humor. The threat of bankruptcy was real. Creditors were very demanding. It turned my world upside down. However, through it all, I learned a lot about prayer, patience, the book of Job and trusting in God.

Several years later, as Carol and I worked our way out of that situation, we found a way to purchase an old house in the Green Lake area, renovate it and rent it. She and I did all the work and in time it was successful. Over the next few years, we acquired two other old homes and a run down duplex. Rinse and repeat. And these also were successful. About ten years later, we decided to sell them and roll the funds into commercial properties professionally managed. I was tired of being a landlord.

Then came the mortgage crisis of 2008. We could not get financing for the commercial properties and lost most of our investment. What good could come from this? “A treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34) I learned where my true treasures were again, trusting in God. I also appreciate how well off we are now in spite of the losses we’ve experienced. No one feels sorry for us! And that is how it should be.

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