Poor Balaam.  He’s really in a pickle.  Brought from his home a thousand miles away to do the nasty bidding of a king to earn a king’s ransom.  Or so he hopes.  Balaam has garnered a world-class reputation as a seer and prophet.  When he casts curses, gloom and doom arrive lickety-split.  When he offers blessings, a cornucopia of good things spills out.  When he speaks, things happen.  That’s Balaam.

But this time?  He sweats bullets, knowing that his fame could be shattered.  Why?  How?  Well, his curses against ancient Israel fall flat.  Backfire into blessings, unwanted and unexpected by Balaam along with that furious, frustrated Moabite King Balak (Numbers 22).  I love what’s written in the book of Nehemiah about all this cursing/blessing business–‘…yet our God turned the curse into a blessing’ (Neh. 13:2).

A church I served many years ago faced a toxic crisis.  It centers somewhat on me.  I’m a mere two years into this pastorate when all you-know-what breaks loose.  Poor me?  A victim of nastiness, which I’d never experienced before or after?  Could be but really not so simple.  I’m not smelling like a rose.  But neither was that small leadership gang hell-bent to oust me.

Regrets?  Of course.  I was too young to head up such a large church.  Too naive and inexperienced.  Theologically evangelical, a fish out of water in a tepid liberal church stream.  I still scratch my head wondering if this was where the Lord wanted me to be.  But Lord, here I am.  Actually, out the door, even though the congregation votes two-to-one in support of my ministry with them.

But the next higher church authority, the one with the final say, says ‘adios amigo’.  Without any ‘amigo’ said or heard.  ‘And by the way, don’t let the backdoor slam behind you on your way out.’  I’m like a painful kidney stone needing immediate surgical removal.  Ouch.

A curse the likes of which Balaam would love to cast.  All I know is that that moment of rejection becomes the very beginning of many blessings.  I start a different career as a financial planner, which I love, and am blessed eventually with over 850 clients and friends.  Even former church members.

Years later another local church, just a stone’s throw from the other, takes a chance on me, and we share fourteen amazing years, seeing all that the Lord wants to do in and beyond those four walls!  It’s about Him this time.  During the worst of times, when we rely on Him, Jesus transforms it into the good, the better, and even the best.  He does that.  He’s good at that.  Often, despite us.

He’ll do it for you.  If for me then, of course, for you.  If you’re now in one of those times, scared and spooked, ask Jesus for His help.  Could He be nudging some changes in you?  An hour or two looking in the mirror of your heart?  A bit of good old-fashioned repentance?  A pause in that handy ‘blaming others game’?  Am I stepping on tender toes?  Oh well…

For I know how He can turn lemons into tasty lemonade!  You will, too.  But in His time.  In His way.

Thank you, Jesus, for second chances.  Amen.

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