Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ch Ch Changes...

When I think back on the journey God has brought me through to this point, I’m continually overwhelmed with the question, “who am I, that God would bless me like this?”

You see God has been hard at work for 47 years in the heart and mind of this old codger, and as I reflect on the work He has had to do, it truly is amazing. He has widdled and carved, and at times sand blasted my attitude plenty over the years, and He’s still at it.

I remember when I was younger, I really struggled with anger, and even though I came off as a pretty level headed, calm and easy going guy there were times when even the littlest thing would make me lose it.

I mean you could mess with me all day long, but even though my brother and I were fighting like cats and dogs, if you messed with him you were in trouble.

Or, talk about how tall and skinny I am all you want (yes, it’s true I used to be very skinny, in fact the nickname “beanpole” comes to mind as I’m writing this…aw those were the days), but say one word about my mom, and watch out.

Looking back, one of the reasons I had so much anger was because of the "backpack of bowling balls" I was carrying around called bitterness. I’m not going to go into the details now, but suffice it to say that I believe one of the changes that God has made that has been one of the major turning points in my life was when I finally gave in and let it all go…more on that subject some other time.

Now I’m not saying that I wouldn’t step in and step up to protect my family if need be, what I’m saying is that when I was younger a lot of what I did and how I reacted was out of a sense of anger and bitterness, and now that I’ve been forgiven, and have in turn forgiven others, I’m free…talk about an incredible change! The kind of change only God can do.

I’ve seen changes galore taking place in my life, my family’s life, the churches I’ve worked with, the countries I’ve served in and on and on it goes, but I guess it hit me that God was really doing a work in my life and attitude one time as I was returning home from a teaching trip to Kiev, Ukraine.

I got on the plane and went to my seat. Next to me there were two other guys sitting in a three seat aisle on the right side of the plane. As usual, the other two guys were as big if not bigger than me, and needless to say we were squished. The guy on my left spoke Russian but was trying to make conversation with me in the little bit of English that he knew.

Then a guy wearing a gigantic furry Russian hat, an extremely warm looking fur coat and carrying a bag full of vodka slid into the 5 seat center aisle of the plane, and proceeded to put his coat and hat in one seat and the bag of vodka in the other seat and then nestled in to his own seat to commence the 3 hour flight from Kiev to Berlin.

Well, the guy sitting next to me saw his opportunity for a more comfortable seat, and a more enjoyable experience so he got up and picked up the gentleman’s vodka placed it in his lap and sat down.

What happened next was absolutely amazing to me, as "Vodka guy" went off on his new seat mate. For the next 10 minutes or so, they yelled and yelled at each other in Russian, they pushed each other and flailed their arms, they were going at it, and neither one was backing down. I couldn’t understand a word of it but I understood exactly what it was all about.

Back and forth the struggle over the seat went, and Russian word after Russian word was being hurled by each man who felt entitled to that seat.

Then all of a sudden, vodka guy stopped and according to his body language, in Russian he seemed to ask my seat mate why he wanted to move in the first place.

The guy looked at me, pointed and said in perfect English “Heavy set”, to which the other man replied “DA!”, and picked up his vodka to let him sit down!

I couldn’t believe it…I just got slammed, put down, dissed or whatever you want to call it…in Russian, and you know what? It didn’t matter to me; in fact I found it kind of funny, hilarious even. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell the story, not just to my family, but to anyone God brought my way, in whatever form God had for me to share it.

You see, another major change I realized that day, was that as I get older, and mature in my walk with God everyday situations that He allows me to go through have morphed from things that used to set me off because of my immaturity or whatever to personal illustrations of How God is at work in my life, and how He can work in the life of the reader or listener as well.

My attitude has changed from “it’s all about me” to “God, how can you use this situation to bless and encourage others?”

That’s a God thing by the way.

So, I’m reminded again that change is not always easy, but if we’re open to God’s kind of change in our lives as an ongoing opportunity to not only sympathize but empathize with others shining the spotlight on the hero of the story…Jesus, then we can embrace even seemingly painful changes with a renewed sense of purpose, because God never wastes a hurt!


  1. Great story, Merry Christmas to you and your family, and a happy and healthy New Year. May Christ's love shine on us all.

  2. Hi Brent,
    Just read this - Christmas Day at 5:30. Such a beautiful story and I felt like I had just been blessed with a wonderful message. Thank you Brent for your faithfulness, humbleness before the Lord and continuing on in service to our great God. The best to you and Bonnie and your dear family. Blessings for the New Year.
    Alice for Ed and family also.

  3. Hi Brent & Family,
    I really enjoyed your story,God works in wonderful ways. With age comes wisdom. It sounds like you and your family are doing well, thats great. Our family this year decided to contribute to Samaratian's purse instead of exchanging gifts. I hope this tradition continues. Thanks for your work with this great orgainization, and continuing to serve God. Have a wonderful New Year!
    Janice Alaimo