Today, NOW, I was reminded of something that Paul so profoundly plopped down in the middle of Ephesians. Paul. He is so cool. Not very spiritual, but cool represents so many thoughts and directions. This man of God who started his adult life out on the wrong foot, his passions misdirected. His zeal was no less mind blowing as a “Christian bounty hunter” than it was as a bond servant to the Messiah! Salvation wrecked his life and the path he was pursuing with focused intensity.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21.
For someone who has been praying over situation in my life for awhile, this verse came at the perfect moment. At 1:52pm to be exact. While I have been committed to pray daily for this particular situation, I still fretted and worried….and even feared. Would resolution come too late? Would those involved choose their own way and not God’s? I doubted. I did not trust God’s capable hand. I did not believe that He is able! It’s not that I don’t know this verse. It’s not that I don’t believe God is able. It’s not that I think I know better than He does. It is, however, possible that deep down, I didn’t believe He would act. I struggle with the fear that He is too busy or that my particular request is not that important to Him. Then, today, NOW, God just illuminates these strong words for my eyes, as if His Holy Spirit sat in the passenger’s seat of my car while I picked up a book I had been reading last week and said “Here, read this.” Peace filled every nook and cranny of my car like air fills a deflated balloon. I stared intently at the verse printed on the page. I read it again. Then once more. The words penetrated my soul as if a warm blanket had been wrapped around me. I believe. I believe God is at work. I believe He is able. I believe He hears me. I believe He cares. I believe NOW He is able to do far more abundantly then what I ask or think is even possible, according to His glory.
Isn’t it crazy how God will use things that are filtering through your life unassuming and unexpected. It’s amazing to me how He will take the words of someone else and stir something up inside you that cannot even be explained out loud, only through the flying of fingers on a keyboard as you type out the thoughts and feelings building up inside like some long dormant volcano about to explode, spilling lava in every direction. Today. Today I happened upon one of my favorite writer and speaker’s excerpt from her new book. You know, the teaser pages they attach to the advertisement. As I read her words, I was immediately pulled into her life. I understood exactly her words pouncing across the page “Nothing helps me hash things out like a blank Word document with a blinking cursor.” I get it, Beth Moore. I’m there. The need to write causes a million words to swirl uncontrollably in my head until they form some wild tornado trying to find a place to make it’s mark. It cannot be denied.
I’ve resisted. I’ve closed my eyes to squeeze out the stories. To erase the thoughts that need paper. I cannot continue to write aimlessly. It seems like a pipe dream always out of my reach. Publication is some kind of validation for a writer. Some reward for being good enough. It is painful to long to write something incredibly profound and God honoring, only to find yourself reduced to writing in a journal that no one, hopefully, will ever read.
She expressed so perfectly a shared thought of how God can use a book to mark a life. Maybe it is because I have been marked by the greatest book ever written, the Bible. Maybe it is because my life has been changed by words from her Bible Studies and her books. God uses phrases and sentences from random books to reach out and touch that raw place inside of us that needs changing.
She had read a book, 21 Great Leaders: Learn Their Lessons, Improve Your Influence authored by Pat Williams, a motivational speaker and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. I find it amusing that she was undone by what she read in that book. The questions asked were these: What is your dream? What is your vision for the future? How is it I am affected by these questions. What purpose does God have for allowing these two questions that Beth Moore read in a book a year ago to slap me in the back of the head as I read her words about those questions and how they rocked her world in this excerpt from her new book. If that even makes sense to you….you and I are on the same wave link. Beth Moore. Wow. She is the one Bible teacher, the one author, that has stirred up something in my heart so many times. Maybe not her, necessarily, but God using her. I want to have her ability to paint a picture so vividly that for just a moment, you think you are sitting across the table from her sipping iced tea and enjoying a great friend conversation. And then I read her thoughts, and they resonate in my heart. “What is your dream? What is your vision for the future?” Both wrenching questions that make me suddenly find it hard to breathe and try desparately to hold back the tears. Why? Because I only know the answer to one of the questions. Why? Because I am not even sure the answer I am thinking is even a possibility! Even now, I am faltering as I write because I don’t even know what the point of this blog is at this point.
I know one thing for sure and that is I love the Lord. After this many years of ups and downs, of struggles and victories, I haven’t lost interest in Him. He’s so incredibly worth it. He has and continues to rock my world. He watches me closely just as a parent watches their child as they go through each season of life, standing ready to catch them if they fall, hold them if they cry and high-five them as they conquer! Jesus is way bigger than I ever thought. He shows me over and over that knowing Him is an incredible journey. So whatever the answer is to those two questions, I’m sure He’ll give me a peep at some point. I may be 54, I may feel like the time is lost for me to accomplish a dream, I may not be able to even imagine Him using me as a writer….but I will rest in the truth that He’ll show me when it is time.
“Let us go to Dothan…” I read those five words again. Confirmation! I was twenty-eight and God was about to change the course of my life. During my quiet time that day, I had prayed for a confirmation of whether to take the job listed on our company’s job boards. When I read those five words, I knew God was telling me to take the job in Dothan, Alabama.
I interviewed over the phone with the Vice President and she hired me on the spot. Now I had to tell my family and friends that I was moving! This would be difficult, because I knew very little aboutDothanand I didn’t know one person in this small town! How could I make everyone understand that I had heard God clearly and regardless of how insane it seemed, I knew I had to make the move.
While my friends and family were skeptical, they supported me because they loved me. There were moments when I doubted the decision myself to move, but God was going before me working out the details. My grandparents lived in a small town forty-five minutes outside ofDothanand I decided to put most of my things in storage and live with them until I found a place to live in town.
The night before I left, many of my friends from church got together and had a surprise going away party for me. I could no longer hold back the tears and for a moment I thought of backing out of the move. But one of my dear friends put her arm around my shoulders and made a speech about my courage to follow what God was telling me to do, despite the uncertainty. I realized God was confirming that I was making the right choice and that He had a plan.
I drove alone to my new home, praying the entire three and half hours. I listened to worship music in an effort to dispel my anxiety. The first night was comforting and familiar as I spent time with my grandparents. They cooked a special meal and talked about times they had set out to follow God and the blessings that followed. I slept well, confident that I had heard God and was on the right path.
After one month of working at my new job and finding a church to attend, I met an elderly lady who lived alone. She was looking for someone to rent her spare bedroom and through a series of events I found myself sleeping in the home of someone I barely knew, in a town I knew very little about, asking God if I was still on the right track.
I wish I could say that I never wavered in my calling, but after three months and a severe case of homesickness, I decided to quit my job and head back home. I talked at length to my boss, and after praying together, she allowed me to give a month notice. I was relieved. Perhaps God had only wanted my obedience on this journey. I had learned to rest in Him through my isolation during the past few months and had focused on His Word and my quiet times with Him.
During those few months I made friends with a couple who were involved in the Student Ministry in the church I was attending. They had asked me over and over if they could introduce me to a friend of theirs who was single. At twenty-eight, I had experienced my share of blind dates and I was done with awkward and uncomfortable dates with men I knew nothing about. I politely refused their requests. But, their persistency wore me down and I finally agreed to a casual get together at their house. I firmly added stipulations to the meeting. If I changed my mind at the last minute, they would make excuses and not be angry with me and if I felt uncomfortable, I could leave at any time. They agreed and the time was set. I was thirty minutes late and the guys had left to pick up pizza when I arrived. This gave me time to relax a little and chat awhile. That evening went well as we ate pizza, played pool and watched a movie. My new friends were true to their word and invited several other singles to make the evening comfortable and relaxing. The friend they were set on introducing me to didn’t say much the entire evening and I assumed he was not impressed. I wasn’t upset, because I enjoyed the entire evening of fellowship and I knew I would be going home soon.
Two days later I received a call at work from the guy my friends had introduced to me. I was surprised by the call, but agreed to lunch. That lunch was followed by a long phone conversation that same evening, dessert the next evening and a date on Friday night. From that first date we were inseparable. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were in love.
I continued to move forward with my plans to move back home and my new love understood and agreed to drive on weekends to see me. We prayed about our relationship and asked God to show us what He wanted for us. Within a month of our first date, he proposed, I accepted and we were engaged!
I moved back home and began making wedding plans. My friends and family again were a little skeptical about my decision to marry someone I had known such a short time, but chose to support me. Five months later we married and this year we celebrate twenty years of marriage.
Many times God calls us to do something that isn’t comfortable or convenient. Sometimes His plan seems to make no sense. But when we choose obedience in the face of uncertainty, we can experience blessings that will be with us for a lifetime. I have no doubt that God ordained for me to move to Dothan some twenty odd years ago, even for a brief four months. He worked out the details every step along the way. I am thankful everyday that He is involved in every aspect of our lives, including getting us in the right place at the right time to meet Mr. Right!