April 19, 2014

Murphy's Law to Peniel - by Linda Aleta Tame

It all started in the airport in Minot, N.D.  My flight to Phoenix was leaving at 9:30 p.m., but I arrived five hours early (long story).  I had my MacBook Pro with me, so I had something to do during my wait.  Check-in staff assured me I'd find a snack shop in the gate area, so I went through customs clearance, found a quiet spot for myself and settled in.

A couple hours later, my MacBook was running out of battery, there was nowhere to plug it in and I was hungry.  I was dismayed to discover the snack shop closed precisely fifteen minutes earlier.  Surely I'd find a vending machine, I thought, but no, there was only a drink machine which would not accept my U.S. bills.  I gave my most pleading expression to the customs officer to request change, or maybe a quick return to the check-in area where I could see machines brimming with sandwiches and chips, but that was not going to happen.  Okay, I thought, this is a First World problem.  I will survive.  Water will be served on the flight.  I finally got up to board the delayed flight at 11:00 p.m., and it was then I saw the plug-in for my MacBook, a few hours too late.

I'm learning that what once were expectations, should now be considered wishes or better, prayer requests.  The flight attendant said, "Two dollars."  With my eyes fixed on the water bottle, I handed her my U.S. bills.  "We don't accept cash," she responded, so I decided to thirst and hunger another three and half hours, because my debit/credit card was in the overhead compartment. After finally arriving in warm beautiful Phoenix, I recovered with a light snack, water and sleeping, but perhaps from the hours of sitting or the twenty hours of sleeping, I now had a severe stabbing pain in my hip.

Okay, Lord, I think you're trying to get my attention, I thought.  I took my green juice out to the patio, and relaxed into the embrace of my heavenly Father.  What's going on, I asked?  The first thought that came to me was Jacob in Genesis 32:22-32.  Jacob, who wrestled with an angel, Jacob whose hip was badly wrenched.  In verse 31, he received a new walk.  As Edward K. Pousson says in his article Bethel to Peniel, "Nobody struts into the Kingdom."  In verse 28, Jacob received a new name, a new identity.  He was transformed from Jacob to Israel, from "just me" to "commUNITY."  Also in verse 31, when the sun rose upon him, he received a new day, a new beginning.  All this newness in a time of loneliness and discomfort, and Jacob named the place of his transformation "Peniel," which means "face to face with God."

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Eugene Delacroix
Image from Free Christ Images
The following Sunday, I found a wonderful church near our home in Phoenix.  It's called "New Life!"  I love how God works, don't you?

It's hard to put into words how much these thoughts meant to me.  It wasn't because of my unfortunate airport and flight experience, or because of my painful hip.  Those were only preparatory for my encouraging Peniel encounter.  The significance was that my spirit was longing to hear from the One who makes all the difference in my life. My spirit was longing for fresh revelation, for transformation.  I've written before about my long dark journey, a time of introspection, reflection and spiritual bewilderment.  The emerging process seems long too, but it's so rich and valuable.  It's essential. 

Reading about Jacob in Bethel to Peniel by Edward K. Pousson gave me incredible comfort, inspiration and hope.  I hope you'll read it too.


  1. HI
    Are you now living permanently in AZ? We are winter visitors from Canada - in Mesa. Would love to meet up with you next winter.
    Let's keep in touch.
    My email is authorjaniscox@gmail.com

    Blessings on your new growth after wrestling with God.

  2. Linda, this is the sentence that struck me. "I'm learning that what once were expectations, should now be considered ... prayer requests."

    I often thank the Lord for the comfortable life I have, but as I read that statement, I realized that I do, indeed, expect this comfort. The risk is that, if it's taken away, I could decide God doesn't care.

    Your message is loud and clear. He has to get our attention somehow. If things seem to be going sideways, I need TO turn to him, and not away.

    Thx for sharing

  3. What a delightful interpretation of a grueling experience.
    Can we make them all like that please!

  4. Oh Linda,

    I wanted this post to go on and on. Beautifully written, I was totally drawn into your story, your experience, your longing.

    I'll be looking for that book now. Haven't read it before.


  5. Thanks for this. Our first world problems are so miniscule in light of what others in the world have to face...I suppose god lets us experience some of these things sometimes so that we can better appreciate what we do have.

  6. Your painful experience is a reminder to me to allow God to speak to me through all the uncomfortable experiences of my life. Sometimes I am just so miserable and grumpy that I don't see these times as opportunities to be transformed. Good thoughts, Linda! I bet you never see an airport the same way again!
    Pam Mytroen

  7. What a beautiful lesson from not so beautiful circumstances. I love how The Lord loves us so much that He teaches us individually and nurtures our growth in order for us to serve Him better!


  8. Linda,
    Now you've got me interested in that book. Jacob's life of struggle is easy to connect with--he was so very human and yet God used it for His glory. A good reminder for us.

  9. Thank you all for such encouraging words. Just want to mention "Bethel to Peniel" is an article, not a book, and can be read by clicking the link in my post. Blessings to you all!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.