Love. Joy. Apples.

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

(Psalm 37:5)

Much of my work at the Apple Store consists of unboxing packages and shelving inventory. One of my secondary duties is to answer the phones when others are occupied, and last Tuesday I was answering them just a little more than usual. One man called around one in the afternoon. He had a technical support appointment at 6:00 and wanted to know if he could make it earlier. There was a spot available at 4:00, so I clicked the name of a man with a 6:00 appointment and rescheduled it.

But both 6:00 appointment slots had been filled with a name, and with an inexplicably inexcusable haste, I did not clarify the name of the man who wished to change his appointment time, and unbeknownst to me, changed the wrong one.

At 3:46, the phone rang. I happened to answer it. It was the same man. He called to say that he wasn’t going to be able to make it at 4:00 and to see if he could just change his appointment back to 6:00. “Wait… what was your name?” With a muffled shock, I realized I had changed the wrong man’s appointment. By the grace of God, the other 6:00 slot was still open, and I changed the other man back to 6:00 and informed the original man that his appointment was now (or, just as correctly, still) for 6:00.

This may seem like a trivial coincidence, but let’s review the possibilities.

If the other 6:00 slot had since been filled, which is not uncommon with two hours remaining, I would not have been able to fit both men into the time, and would probably have had to move the calling man to the nearest available time to move the clueless man back to his intended time slot. My mistake would have inconvenienced the calling man at best, as well as probably angering him and/or making him wait longer than necessary to have his machine checked. The calling man would have suffered because of my failure.

Secondly, if someone else had answered the latter call (and I never answer close to half of the phone calls), he or she would not have known about my mix-up and would have told the man he was already scheduled for 6. He might have been surprised and suspicious, but at least he would still get serviced when expected. However, the other man who had been unknowingly “rescheduled” to 4, would have been crossed off the list as a “no-show” by the time he came in at 6, and he would have to wait a couple hours to get serviced, if there was any time available at all, and at least the clueless man would have suffered because of my failure.

Finally, if the man had not called back but come in at 4:00, he would have learned that he was still scheduled for 6 with few if any earlier slots remaining, and would have been extremely upset at Apple’s customer service that led him to expect he could be serviced at 4. In this case, both customers would have suffered because of my failure.

It was improbable that neither man would feel the effects of my mistake, but nothing occurred except for my learning an important lesson to be more careful about rescheduling appointments. I thanked God for his grace that prevented my mistake from causing grief to others.

Later in the week, God used that event to remind me how he’s been faithful through my entire life, even to the point of sometimes saving me from my own mistakes that should have caused greater consequences. I was overcome with the joy of the assurance that his grace will continue to be faithful through the future.

It’s hardly uncommon for a single guy to wish to be otherwise, but lately that desire has been more distracting than usual. I’m perfectly content, in theory, to wait for God’s timing, but I had been starting to wonder if I’m supposed to be, shall we say, looking or trying harder, or if I’m doing something wrong. God reassured me that his grace will continue to cover my life, and that I’ll know when to pursue. He’s never failed to come through in the past; it’s literally impossible for him to not continue to do so!

When this revelation becomes real, the dutiful, unverified “faith in the unseen” becomes an excited, confident faith rooted in the simple fact of God’s overwhleming and consistent love. Only then can one truly understand how “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” And this assurance is a double blessing. Not only do you realize while you are showered in God’s grace that he is going to come through ~ a certainty that is powerful enough ~ but you realize that because you are loved by and favored by ~ indeed, you are with ~ God, it doesn’t even matter in a particular situation whether or not he comes through, because you are with God, and nothing could make that more complete.

I was explaining some of this to a friend last night who has also seen God working in her life, and she said she felt like she was talking to herself. To top it off, we discovered that we had both independently been led to the same encouraging psalm (did I mention that someone at church this morning also quoted from it?). These “coincidental” confirmations only increase the amazement of God’s blessing and the powerful joy of the confidence that he will continue to guide our lives. It is only within that joy that you can wonder with self-amusement how you could ever doubt, and not feel shamed, because that same Love is there to forgive, and then be overcome all over again by that great and mighty Love.

If anyone feels inclined to caution against putting too much stock in the emotional experiences of the religious life, he must also caution the lover against feeling too happy after a long, beautiful walk with his beloved. The emotional outpourings of a well-founded relationship are not an artificial danger, but the most fulfilling expression of its reailty. God is REAL. And he loves YOU. Let that warm your heart.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand…
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip…
Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright
For the man of peace will have a posterity.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.

(Ps 37:23-40)