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Stung by Yellow Jackets

What would it take to motivate you to be more faithful in reading Scripture? Would being stung by six Yellow Jackets do the trick? It did for Charlie Martin. Charlie is one of our newest members at Bethel. Charlie is originally from Georgia. He worked for many years in the construction management industry in Richmond before retiring in 2015.

On July 31, 2019, Charlie was removing a stump in his yard when he got stung by those pesky Yellow Jackets. Charlie decided to go to Southern States to get something to kill the Yellow Jackets. On his way home, Charlie had an accident on North Woolridge Road, near the Midlothian Mines Park. He has no memory of crossing three lanes of traffic, one sidewalk, hitting a guard rail, sliding down an embankment and ending up on a walking path in the park. When Charlie regained consciousness, he found himself in an ambulance headed for Johnston Willis hospital.

Fortunately, Charlie only suffered minor scrapes and bruises, but the question was why did Charlie lose consciousness? Charlie had an aortic replacement in 2013 and the doctors initially thought he could have an issue with his heart, but there was no evidence to support this idea. They tested him for seizures, but this proved negative. They investigated the Yellow Jacket stings. Could there have been enough poison in his body to cause him to experience delayed anaphylactic shock? Doctors didn’t think so.

Charlie Martin

In the end they ended up calling it an “episode” and prescribed seizure medication, just to be cautious. As Charlie laid in the hospital it gave him some time to reflect on the blessings that came from the accident. Charlie said he became acutely aware of God’s providence. For example, the police came to the hospital to explain to him that he would not be charged for any moving violation. The reason he wasn’t ticketed is because an off duty police officer was following Charlie and noticed he was driving erratically. What are the odds of that happening?

The officer called for help immediately and help arrived in short order. Second, the accident took place near Midlothian Mines Park. There are always people walking, running or biking in that area. The idea that Charlie crossed three lanes of traffic and a sidewalk without hitting a car or a pedestrian is a miracle. Charlie thought about all of this and concluded, “The Lord not only watched out for me, but he watched out for others. The Lord was trying to tell me something.”

I asked him what he thought God was trying to tell him and Charlie said, “The accident allowed me to be still and know that God is God. I was being led to really study the Bible and seek God in His word.” This event focused Charlie’s attention on the Lord and he now faithfully reads and studies Scripture each day and spends time in prayer. Charlie has even learned about prayer walking. Since doctors weren’t sure about him having seizures, Charlie lost his driving privileges for a time. He would often walk to Food Lion to get groceries and on those walks, Charlie began to think more about the Lord and used this time to pray. Charlie said one added blessing from all of the walking is that he lost weight!

Being stung by six Yellow Jackets has ultimately led Charlie to a richer, fuller life with God. One question that I wrestle with when I hear stories like this is, “Did God cause this series of events just to get Charlie’s attention so that Charlie would walk closer with God?” Knowing the mind of God can prove difficult. Indeed, Isaiah 55:8 tells us that “God’s ways are not our ways.”

In wrestling with my own theology, I’ve come to the place where I don’t believe God is the author of suffering. We see this most in the person of Jesus who came to show us what God is like and we see in Christ someone who heals and makes whole. We also see in Jesus someone who doesn’t answer the tough “why” questions.

In John 8, when Jesus and his disciples come across a man born blind his disciples want to know why he was born blind. Jesus doesn’t answer the “why” question, instead, he says, “This happened so that God can be glorified.” I believe God can take the worst of situations and ultimately redeem them and use them for His good purposes. We serve a God who is able to turn tragedy into triumph, we see that most clearly in Christ’s death and resurrection.

God can turn our messes into our message, our tests into our testimony, our misery can become our ministry. The question is, when we’re in the middle of our next mess, can we pause long enough to pray and ask God to redeem this situation? Can we ask, “How can God be glorified through what I’m going through?”

Kudos to Charlie for seeking God through his situation. I believe God is being glorified through Charlie’s faithful reading of scripture and through the testimony of this newsletter article.

One final thought, I asked Charlie what he learned about God from this situation? He said, “God wanted to assure me how he cares and loves me and loves and cares for others.” Amen. I want to remind you of the same thing, only without the Yellow Jacket stings! God loves and cares for you and wants to be with you.

If you’d like to hear more from Charlie, please make a special effort to attend worship on August 7th. Charlie is going to give a testimony on how his wife Pat encountered Christ in the moments before she passed away from a battle with cancer. It’s a very moving testimony that will feed your faith. Don’t miss it. Until then, may God bless Charlie Martin and may God bless you and Bethel Baptist Church.

Todd

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