Tag Archive | attributes of God

Near Misses

My guess is that we’ve all had them — those “near misses” of events that, except for the grace of God, could have ended so differently. Allow me to share with you one of those that keeps coming back to my mind even now, some 25 years later.

Summer, 1988. Our family of 5 had headed to Douglas Lake (in East Tennessee) to spend the day with a church group boating, swimming, picnicking, and just plain having a good day of fellowship with Christian friends. God blessed us with a Saturday that could not have been more beautiful.

After making the 30-minute drive from our home to the lake, I immediately did what any mother of a 2-year-old being potty-trained did — headed straight to the bathroom before doing anything else. Meanwhile, my husband and sons headed to the dock to join several others getting ready to go out on the boat for the first of many trips around the lake that day.

A few minutes later, as I was holding my daughter, Stasie, at the water’s edge watching (and hearing) the fun taking place several yards away, she asked me a most unusual question: “Mommy, why is there an arm in the water?” Thinking I hadn’t heard her correctly, I asked her to repeat what she said. Again, clear as day: “Mommy, why is there an arm in the water?”

Glancing down to the area she was pointing to, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. But, since there were trees in the area, I told her it wasn’t an arm — probably just a tree branch that was floating in the water and had now drifted away. Nothing more was said and the conversation quickly left my mind as more friends arrived and the activity-filled day continued.

Then, that night as my husband, Gary, and I were watching the late news, a report came on that suddenly brought the conversation between my daughter and I back to the forefront of my mind. It also explained something else as well. The report said that after another day of diving on Douglas Lake, divers had been unable to locate the body of a man who had fallen off a boat a few days earlier and was presumed to have drowned.

My heart began to race as I remembered the conversation Stasie and I had had several hours earlier. Had she really seen an arm in the water after all? We had seen the diving taking place a good distance to the right of where we had spent the day, but assumed it was some sort of a training exercise. The thought had not crossed our minds that it was anything serious. After this news clip, Gary and I didn’t quite know what to do. Should I try calling someone? If so, who? And would they take seriously the question of a 2-year-old?

Since it was late and diving wasn’t going to resume until the next day anyway, we decided that I would make a phone call the next morning. Well, that phone call turned into three as various attempts were made to connect with the proper agency. I mean, after all, who do you call in a situation like this? Once on the phone with the proper authority, I began my awkward explanation of the day before and relaying to them the unusual question my 2-year-old had asked me. After determining our exact location, the kind lady told me that where we had been was a bit farther south than where they had been looking and she doubted the body could have floated that far. But, she told me she would alert the dive team and they would send some divers closer to where we had spent the day, just in case.

The evening news report? Divers had located the body of a man who had fallen off his boat and drowned after hitting his head.

To this day, a couple of questions remain unanswered. Did Stasie really see the arm of a drowning victim in the water? Was my phone call instrumental in helping divers locate the body, thereby giving closure to a family? I can’t say for certain, but, given how quickly he was found after days of searching, I strongly suspect the answer to both questions is, “Yes.”

So, what was our “near miss” I spoke of earlier? Well, just think how differently our day would have gone had I seen what Stasie apparently saw. And how differently would our day have gone had this body floated just a few feet further into the roped off swim area? Can you imagine the shock? The nightmares? Just the thought alone is enough to bring shudders. While a 2-year-old would most likely not remember such a traumatic event, her mother would — as would many others who had been swimming in that area that day at that time.

So, although questions remain, thank you, God, for this particular “near miss.” Thank you for being our Protector and for sparing us from a potentially traumatic event that day.

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The Start of an Endless List?

A few months ago several ladies and I began spending part of our Sunday morning class time looking at attributes and characteristics of God. Each week we looked at a different passage of scripture and listed those we found.

The first passage we looked at was a portion of the Parable of the Lost Son, Luke 15:11-24.

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)

We were stunned at how many attributes and characteristics we discovered in this parable. It was amazing!

Let me share with you the 20 — yes, 20!!! — we found:

God . . . accepts us as we are (but that doesn’t mean he intends for us to stay that way!)
God . . . is affectionate
God . . . celebrates
God . . . is compassionate
God . . . is forgiving
God . . . is full of grace
God . . . is generous
God . . . is a God of second chances
God . . . is hands-on
God . . . knows us
God . . . looks for our return when we stray from him
God . . . is loving
God . . . is patient with us
God . . . recognizes us even when we are distant from him
God . . . rejoices
God . . . runs to us when he sees us coming
God . . . sees us from afar
God . . . is sympathetic
God . . . waits for us
God . . . welcomes us

Yes, some of these could be labeled as synonyms, but even synonyms often have slightly different connotations to them.

And, yes, there are probably more that could be discovered in this passage. (If you do, please let me know so I can add them to my notebook!)

From time to time we will add to this list. Attributes and characteristics of God can be found literally from Genesis to Revelation. There are so many to discover. Truth be told, I suspect the list is endless.

I challenge you to spend some time in this parable and see how many of these attributes or characteristics of God from which you have benefitted. You might also consider starting your own notebook listing these and/or journaling your own personal experience with the God who loved you during your own prodigal season, be it days, weeks, months, or years.