GOSHEN. I heard this word of encouragement in answer to the threat and fear we face during this pandemic. Let me explain...
Facebook post by Rob Jacobson dated March 16, 2020. Reprinted with permission.
Recently I visited a local AutoZone store to pick up some brake pads for my Suburban.
I went to the store with all the tools I thought I would need so that I could make the repair in their parking lot. I have never replaced brake pads before but I had both the encouragement of one of my sons that it was very doable and a YouTube video to instruct me. So after purchasing the pads, I laid out my tools on a blanket next to my vehicle and set about replacing the pads.
Whispers of fear
I blocked the wheels, jacked up the car, removed the wheel, compressed the caliper, wedged out the old pads, and tried to put the new pads on. At some point in the next 20 minutes as I repeatedly found that the pads would not fit into the space where the old pads were, the enemy began to whisper to me, reminding me that:
- I was 40 miles from home driving the only transportation our two local families own
- I had one wheel off and no pads on that wheel so I couldn’t leave if I wanted to
- My tools and car parts were spread out over the pavement
- The sun had now set and the air was getting chillier
- I had no one to call who was close enough and who possessed the expertise needed to help me
…and the quiet, subtle beginnings of fear and panic began to intrude on my awareness, with the tangible assertion that I was about to get marooned here, with no hope for rescue.
A declaration of faith
“I don’t receive fear or panic, in Jesus name!” I declared. “You’ve got a plan here, Lord…I’m looking to You.”
Moments later it occurred to me to compare the size of the old pad with the new pad. To my surprise, I discovered that the new pad was approximately 1/8 of an inch longer than the old one–certainly a plausible explanation for my inability to install the new pad.
I walked back into AutoZone and waited to speak to the young man who had helped me earlier. His name was Tristan.
When I showed him the problem, he told me that this situation is actually quite common and soon set about to file off the extra metal with a less than adequate metal file.
Meanwhile, a young man named Chad had entered the store and was waiting for service. He inquired about our situation and when Tristan remarked that he wished he had his home bench grinder available; Chad offered to drive home and fetch his grinder.
Now the situation was rapidly evolving from me attempting to fix my own brake pads to a project shared with two guys, one of whom had reason for investment, the other having no reason for investment whatsoever—and who now was about to drive home to get his personal tools to assist us.
Grace to wait
I felt a little uncomfortable at how I was inconveniencing others, but also sensed the Lord both restraining me from refusing the help and giving me the grace to wait to see how this would turn out.
When trying a second set of new pads yielded the same bad fit, Chad left to get his tools and I walked over to McDonald’s. I returned to find the headlights of Chad’s rusty truck illuminating the workspace around my Suburban. He and Tristan were already grinding off the excess from the four new pads.
When the two of them came out, Chad set about trying them for fit, and then proceeded to simply take over the job, leaving me with the one lone responsibility of holding a flashlight focused on the caliper.
He explained his actions as he worked quickly to install the new pads. When one side was finished, Tristan came out to check on our progress. Chad then moved to the other side of the car where he repeated his efforts, finishing up with tips on how to ensure that the lug nuts were truly tightened.
He hung around long enough to check them for me after I performed a quick drive around the parking lot.
“How much do I owe you, Chad?” I asked, prepared to pay him as much as he wanted.
“Nuthin’…I live alone and don’t have a TV. This is my entertainment!”
“You’re a hero,” I replied, “Thank you so much!” I shook hands with both Chad and Tristan and thanked them thoroughly. Then I drove off to pick up my son Jeff from work. When I told him what had happened, he immediately informed me,“You got favor…!”
Dwelling in Goshen
Today as I spoke with my family about some of the adjustments we are having to make given the effect of this spreading virus, the Lord spoke a single word to me:
I believe that He then began to show me how my experience yesterday at AutoZone was a mini version of what we are facing right now on a much larger scale.
As this virus spreads across the planet, the real spreading danger is fear. Just like my experience in the parking lot with the sun going down and seemingly with no hope for help, the enemy whispers to us about our coming demise and hopeless predicament.
But I believe that the Lord offers to us the opportunity to dwell in Goshen.
Goshen is that area of Egypt where the Israelites lived. The Lord said, “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.”
And so the people of Goshen were spared the rest of the plagues—including the final plague—if they would place the blood of the lamb on their doorways.
I believe that the Lord is offering us the same refuge: to live in Goshen.
Only our inhabitation of the land of Goshen is one that is accomplished by faith…by trusting in the Lord.
I think that the name “Tristan” is a clue for “trusting.” The name Chad means “defense” and “protector.”
I believe that as we refuse to give into the threats of fear that the enemy brings to us and instead call upon the Lord to enforce boundaries in the name of Jesus Christ around our families and homes, we will enter Goshen, a spiritual location where the Lord will provide for us in many unusual and perhaps quiet ways, like he did for me with this seemingly insignificant stranger named Chad. The same way He did so powerfully for the Israelites in the time of the Exodus.
As Jesus once said, the kingdom of God does not come outwardly but inwardly.
In the same way, I believe that the Lord is offering to us the privilege to enter into this place of Goshen inwardly, where there is an outward manifestation of His protection and provision. This is a place that is entered by faith in Jesus Christ and in the blood of the Lamb of God.
I believe this means that instead of giving in to fear and putting our faith in a stockpile of toilet paper, we trust Him—the God of the universe, to provide what we need, when we need it.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…for he will give his angels charge concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. Psalm 91
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116