It is said, “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.”  I would like to tell you about one.

It does not start out happy. It ends better. A man in a former church was a bully.  An engineer with no apparent emotional capacity, he dominated wherever he was. He engineered the church cutting off our missionary support. After I had departed and was serving in another ministry, he called my boss two times to warn him about how divisive I was.  I stewed about this far too long.   

I have a friend–Dr. Paul Lowell–who calls these people Grace Builders. Your grace Builder will be different than mine.  You have your own stories of spiritual struggle.

But God has His ways of correcting us; mysterious and blessed ways of freeing us from ourselves and what sin wants to do to us.  God can give us victory over our vulnerabilities.  Here’s how the providential timing of a man’s offense and a word from a colleague teamed up to advance my liberation from this bully.  

A Man’s Offense   My wife and I had served the Lord with youth years ago in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Paul and Jim were among the teens in the group.  We have kept up with Jim since 1975 when we left Kazoo.  Paul moved to Florida 20 years ago and we have lost contact with him.  But Jim got our missionary letters and we saw him a dozen times since our 1975 departure from Kazoo.

Invited to dinner at mutual friends, we looked forward to seeing Jim.  While there, with others present, I gave him a peck (fast kiss) on the cheek. Fast forward 18 months.  The office informed us that Jim had asked to be removed from our mailing list.  I wrote to Jim and asked, “How have I offended you?”  Two weeks later he called and said he was terribly offended by my gesture, which I only intended to convey respect and caring.

I should not have kissed him. I asked his forgiveness, but felt his reaction was overboard.

A Colleague   A few days went by before God providentially brought in another helpful thought. My wife and I were on a conference call with staff colleagues. Somehow the topic of resentment and anger came up, and a staffer said something like, “Those who get angry are the ones who live in an emotional prison. They don’t correct the people who have done them wrong, instead they punish themselves by being in an emotional prison.”  Suddenly, John’s comment became the voice of God to me. For years I have been in a prison–thinking of this bully. 

Soon I was revisiting the kiss scene with Jim. I thought, “For something that took less than three seconds, Jim is willing to walk away from a 40-year friendship. It made him look foolish.  Was I looking just as foolish to God, stewing over this bully?  Probably. At least that’s the interpretation the Spirit gave me at that time.

Now the points are: (1) I should not have kissed him. (2) he should not have been offended (especially about something that is biblical–Romans 16:16;                       II Corinthians 13:12). God used Jim’s offense to show me how foolish I looked to Him for letting the bully bother me.   I am still a work in progress, but God is helping me put things in perspective.   

God worked His grand providence–through Jim’s extreme response and John’s comment–to get a message to me:  forgive the bully and stop thinking about him. 

Scripture says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:17-21). So the issue is, “Do we have enough faith to leave our bullies to God?” God’s wonderful, mysterious providence works to free us from ourselves and sets the stage for a nice nap.