As I sat in church, listening to a missionary from India, I asked the Lord,
Why am I here? What does this man have to say to me?
The Lord answers me: Listen to what he is saying. Do you hear him?
I turned my focus to his story:
His grandparents had a calling to India. It was 1930; in the height of the Great Depression when they packed up and moved to India. His grandfather taught many, but he soon realized he could not fulfill the Lord’s dream of reaching thousands unless he duplicated himself.
So he started a college teaching young people how to be missionaries. He opened one school, and then another, and another.
The Lord said: Listen to this young man.
Young man? I thought to myself. He was only about 4-5 years younger than me.
I am listening. I told the Lord:
He comes from a long line of Christians. His father was a Christian, his mother, his grandparents. He has had advantages I have never had. His rich Christian inheritance gives him the advantages I don’t have.
Stop, Diana, just stop. I heard the Lord tell me. Stop obsessing on the background you never had. Listen to what this young man is saying: ‘My grandfather in 1930 had a vision.’ What if he (this young man) were Matthew? [My grandson, who turns one year old next week]. What if he, years from now, is talking about his grandmother and the legacy she left him?
Do not focus on the generations passed. Instead be the foundation for future generations. Look beyond the confines of your small life to the generations yet to come—your children’s children. What will you establish for them? What kind of foundation will you leave them? Will they one day stand before a congregation of people and say, ‘My grandmother followed a vision given to her by God’?
I thought about my younger son in China. I reflected on the compassion of my daughter-in-law. I thought about my older son and his wife, how they long to go into the mission field. The Lord’s voice came back to me:
Finish what I have given you to do. Believe what I have given you will one day influence many. What is the young man saying?
I listened as he said: “I had the privilege of being taught, mentored by a man that was taught by my grandfather.”
Diana, look beyond the confines of your small world. Reach into the future of those who are to come after you. Stop focusing on yourself and your small concerns. Listen to me, complete what I have given you to do. Focus on it. Believe you will influence a generation you will never know.
The young man was speaking of the nationals he was able to teach, so they in turn could teach those of their own country. He passionately spoke of a ministry that he was able to continue and expand based on the foundation his grandfather had laid.
Refocusing, renewing of the mind, listening from a different perspective takes Divine Intervention. That day, I renewed my decision to be the generation that young people feel privileged to follow. I decided to stop bemoaning that my grandson would turn one without me there to celebrate. I decided to give him a gift that would reach beyond my earthly years.
I decided to refocus my eyes and my ears on my Lord. I decided, “I can pass on a curse or blessing to those I will never know.” *I want to pass on a blessing.
*Quote by Sara Groves, Generations
What about you? Has the Lord given you a vision you have been hesitant to fully embrace. No doubt it will cost you. Decide to stay focused on Him and follow your heart. Be a blessing.
“…commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
“…I the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations. But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.”
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
Matthew 28: 18-20
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Going Christmas shopping with my mother has become a pre-Christmas treat. This year we both decided to look for a new pair of boots. After trying on several pairs, the salesman who was helping us went to the storage area to retrieve boots for my mother.
I could not decide if I liked the fit of the boots I was trying on so I put my old shoes back on to compare the fit.
As I stood, walked over to the mirror, and viewed my shoes another young salesman came over.
“They look great,” he said, referring to my shoes.
“Yes and they are very comfortable.”
He smiled and shook his head “yes” in agreement.
I continued, “You know you have a great pair of shoes when you can stand teaching a seminar in them all day and then come home and not want to take your shoes off until you have finished the rest of the day’s tasks.”
He agreed, but gave me a look of, “How do you know that?”
I smiled, “These are my shoes. I was just trying them back on to compare the fit to the boots I am considering.”
“Oh,” he answered.
I sat down beside my mother, who was still trying to decide which boots she wanted.
The young salesman knelt down to put away the boots I had rejected. He said, “Did I hear you say you teach seminars?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“What do you teach?” he inquired.
“I teach from the books I wrote, Undivided Heart.”
He looked at me curiously, so I continued. “They’re books combining psychology and spirituality.”
He looked at me like, “They are what?”
I tried explaining, “My students take one of the stories of their life that causes them stress or confusion and we walk through it using the tools in the books.”
“Oh,” he said. I could tell he still did not understand.
“I have written another book.” I started to get it out of my purse. I was thinking it advertises my books maybe that would help explain what they are about.
“Oh, you have it with you. I’d like to see it.” He did not understand that it was not Undivided Heart.
“I pulled Where is the Water? out of my purse. He remained crouched on the floor beside me as he took the book from my hand. He opened it up in the middle and started reading, Do You Really Want to Know?…one of the stories in the book.
I watched as he quickly read the first page and moved on to the second. I glanced back at my mom to see how she was doing.
“Oh, wow!” he said, getting my attention.
“Are you a Christian?” I asked him.
“No,” he answered quickly and kept turning pages.
My Mom said, “Do you have any cards?” meaning my business cards.
“No?” she echoed.
“I switched to my small shopping purse. I didn’t put any in.”
The young salesman was still reading. He said, “Here is one. There is one in the book. Do you need it?”
I put business cards in my books so people can use them as bookmarks.
“Well, there you go,” Mom said.
I looked back at the young man. He was still reading. Then it dawned on me, You will give the book away.
Early this morning while I was rushing about the house, finishing last minute details before leaving to pick up my mother I heard,
Slip a copy of Where is the Water? into your purse.
I thought, Good idea. Never can tell who might be interested in buying.
In answer to that thought I heard, You will give the book away.
“To who?” I wondered allowed.
I’ll show you who, came the answer.
I turned my attention to the young man, “You’re still reading?”
“Ya. Where were the pictures taken? Were they taken around here?”
“Yes,” I answered. “A friend of mine gave me the pictures. See the front cover. He took the picture in 2005. He said he was waiting for the Lord to tell him what to do with it. He said he believed the Lord wanted him to give the picture to me.”
“See the cross,” I said, as I pointed it out in the sunset.
“See the heart on top of the cross.”
“Yes,” he answered with a big enthusiastic grin. “That’s fantastic!” Then he began to read more.
I turned to see how my mother was doing. I could tell we were almost done. Then I looked back at him,
“Would you like to continue to read it?”
He looked at me like, “What do you mean?”
“I’ll give you the book, if you promise me you’ll read it.”
He broke out in a big grin, “Oh, I’ll read it!”
“Do you have a pen?”
“Yes,” he smiled as he handed me the pen and the book.
As I began to write the Lord told me, Listen. Listen to him. I’ll tell you what to write.
As I wrote his name, I listened. He was telling my mother,
“I ride the bus to work every day. Today I forgot my book. Now I’ll have a book to read on my way home.”
The Lord directed me to write, “May you find the Lord in order to have an “unforgettable” life.”
As we gathered up our things to leave he said, “Thanks, thanks a lot for the book.”
“I was supposed to give the book away today.”
“What?” he asked as we walked out the door.
But I did not explain. As we left the store I told my mother,
“He’ll figure out what I meant after he reads my book.”
My book, Where is the Water? is full of divine encounters. The young man was part of turning our ordinary day into an extraordinary day. There is no JOY that can compare with knowing the Lord orchestrated my life to touch another’s for his purpose.
I continue to pray for the young man, because I know the next time I ask him, “Are you a Christian?” he will have come face to face with God.
As you rush about busy holiday seasons, do you keep an ear open for God’s agenda? He may not change your plans, but for sure he will expand them.
Learning to come aside every day gives you the advantage of recognizing his voice when you are on your feet and running. There is no greater joy than being given the opportunity to reach out to another who the Lord has prepared to receive his grace.
Lay aside your ideas on how the Lord wants you to approach others. Let him lead. Stay alert for God’s creative way. I promise you won’t be bored.
Evangelism does not need a specific formula, special wording, or education. All God needs is a heart that is seeking and a Christian who is listening and obedient to act when the moment comes.
Will you be that person? Will you open your heart to listen and obey?
Remember the JOY of any season is not in receiving blessings, but in being a blessing.
“This is what the LORD says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them: I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”
Reading a good book in the lobby of my doctor’s office, I was interrupted as a patient rushed out the front door yelling, “Oh, no!”
My immediate thought was—the dog.
On my way into the office I had greeted a forlorn looking collie. Tied to the fender of a bicycle, she stood at attention, watching the glass door through which the master had disappeared.
“They’ll be back. It’s OK.” I reassured as I went into the building.
Sitting in the lobby, I watched the rush of commotion, as the receptionist ran out the front door and repeated, “Oh, no!”
I tried to continue reading my book; “minding my own business,” but I couldn’t. I got up to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
Looking out the glass door I could see the toppled bike and the leash in a tangled mess. The dog had slipped her collar. The owner was frantic. I turned to sit back down, but my heart was unsettled.
I silently asked the Lord, “What can I do?”
The answer came quickly, “Go. Go help her look.”
I immediately went out the door. The owner was still grappling with her bike.
I silently inquired, “I don’t know where to look. I don’t know which way to go.”
“To the left. Go look to the left.”
I walked passed the building and onto the sidewalk; it led away from the busy street into a quiet neighborhood. As I turned to look down the sidewalk, there was a young man bent over, reaching for dog tags.
I yelled down the street, “Did you just find that dog?”
He looked up, shook his head “yes” and smiled.
“Well, hang onto her. Her owner is right here.”
I took a few steps back toward the building and yelled, “You’re dog is over here!”
The owner gathered up the leash, as best she could, put down the kickstand on the bike and turned to see her dog now standing beside me along with the young man who found her.
She rushed to kneel down and give the dog a hug. As she talked softly to her dog, the young man and I disappeared.
If I can believe that I was called to get up and become involved in someone else’s panic situation; if I can believe I was told where the dog could be found, then I must believe that I am being guided, in my every day efforts, to reach a destination longer than walking the length of a building.
While in prayer, I have been told three times to get my house in order; to clean up years of procrastination. Years of books, papers, notebooks that need to be organized, sorted or tossed.
It’s not a job I like. As I touch the past, I reflect on the life that once was. Boy Scout hats complete with pins, ribbons, trophies, certificates of accomplishment, Taekwondo belts, pictures and a book dedicated to “the best Mom a kid could ever have,” and a college project, a children’s book. I struggle to force myself back into the present moment.
I loved raising my boys. They are young men now. The youngest turns thirty this year. He is married with two small children. The older is getting married. My boys are moving on with their lives.
I know all this cleaning, tossing, reorganizing is preparing me for the new life ahead; a first chapter of another novel of my life. This cleaning/reorganizing is a way to accept change; to live in the present and affirm my roles and identities as Nainai—grandmother, mother of the father, mother-in-law, wife, Mom and teacher.
I grow impatient with transition, the metamorphous process. Since change is inevitable, I want it now. I don’t want to go through the painful process of rebirth. But I know I must.
It is then that I remember to tune in and ask, “What do I need to do?” A solution is given. What I need to do is implement the solution.
I admit, “I live in a world of hesitation—fear.”
“Fear of what exactly?” Comes the inquiring voice inside of me.
“I think the overriding fear is one of abandonment.”
There is a long pause—then I smile to realize, “The dog standing in front of the glass door—waiting for her master to appear. Something had frightened the dog. She ran off, but not far. The master came looking for the dog. They are reunited—with help.”
“Oh,” I yell, “I need help!”
I am reassured that just as the Lord takes care of a stray and frightened dog he will take care of me—“Oh, ye, of little faith.” He loves and cares for me just as he loves and cares for the dog and the owner.
He asked me to help. He showed me where to look. As he cares for them, he cares for me. I just need to keep listening in the ordinariness of my day. I need to stay alert to keep my eyes and ears open!
Are you alert to the stories occurring in your own life? Do you stay conscious of the world around you in order to glean the messages you might find there?
You may be missing out, missing the living parables, the stories of your own life, the answers to your prayers that come in the ordinariness of the mundane tasks of everyday life. Decide today to “stay awake” to keep your eyes and ears open.
“Thou hast held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of long ago. I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; and my spirit ponders.”
“Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.”
“Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Matthew 10: 28-31.
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.”
“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go and search for the one that is straying? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.”
Have you ever had your doctor tell you to buy an over the counter medication that you’ve never heard of? Maybe he writes the name down and advises you where you might purchase it. Mine did. He told me I could pick up the meds at a health food store.
Wanting to save myself time and gas I tried looking the medication up online, but could not find it. I called one of the health food stores my doc recommended, but they had never heard of it. I was puzzled. Not sure what to do.
I thought I’d just have to do some running around to find it—burn that gas! I prayed and asked for the Lord’s help.
Two days later my mother and I planned to go shopping. I headed for Newberg to pick her up. Arriving in Newberg, I had two choices as to how to get to her house. This day I felt prompted to take the route I do not usually choose.
Crossing Hwy 99 on the road to her house I hear the Lord prompt me,
“Turn in here.”
I look over to the right. There is a shopping mall there.
“What for? I’m already late. We are not shopping in Newberg.”
“See the Rite Aid. Go there.”
“They will not have the meds I need. The doc said I have to get it at a health food store.”
“Go to Rite Aid.”
I knew it was useless to argue. I turned into the parking lot. In my mind I am thinking, I will go, but I will prove to you that I cannot get the meds there.
I walk through the door. Look around to spot where the over the counter medications are located.
“Go ask the pharmacist.”
I walk to the back of the store, stand at the counter and the pharmacist immediately greats me with a broad smile, “May I help you?”
“I was wondering if you could tell me where I might be able to get these meds—aBAS.”
She takes the slip of paper from my hand, types the word into her phone. “I can’t see it.”
“I tried. I could not find it either.” I commented.
“Wait,” she says as if concentrating on a crossword puzzle. After a moment of silence she says, “See how he caps his letters, but not the first one—aBAS. I’m wondering if that is not a small “a,” but some other letter. She tries a few other versions of the word in her phone.
“Oh, yes, look. The first letter in not an “a” at all, it is an open “O.” That is not a line on a small “a” that is the second letter, an “L”. See,” she says pointing to the piece of paper, “the first letter is a capital “O” and the second letter is a capital “L—OLBAS.”
I decided she would be good at deciphering those distorted security verifications you have to figure out and type in before you can continue on a secure program online. (Called captcha.)
She typed the name of the meds into her phone—OLBAS. “Yes, here it is. We don’t carry it, but Whole Foods does. Here is a listing of their stores.”
She helped me find the store that would be near where Mom and I would be shopping.
I walked out of the store—without the meds—but knowing exactly where to find them.
Honestly, I don’t know why I argue when the Lord gives me directions. Why is argument my first response? You’d think I’d learn.
I feel like Peter when Jesus told him to go back out and go fishing. Peter went, but I bet he thought, “I’m the fisherman. You’re a carpenter, what do you know about fishing. I’ll prove to you there are no fish in those waters today.” Of course, the point is Peter did obey, because it was the Lord telling him to try again AND guess what? The Lord was right about the fish! Imagine that!
How often do you pray, ask for God’s help, and then ignore him when he tries to give it? Do you argue that what he is telling you does not make sense?
Honestly, if you could make sense of something on your own, would you take the time to pray about it? So why when God tries to help, as requested, do we argue as if all of a sudden we had better sight, better hearing and could figure it out for ourselves?
Obeying when prompted takes humility and discipline. Of course, you first have to be willing to hear, but then why would you pray, asking for help, if you were not planning to listen to the answer? Why would you take the time to pray and listen if you were not willing to surrender your pride and be obedient? That would be like me going into the pharmacy asking the pharmacist for help and then walking away before she had a chance to answer my question. That would be like stopping to ask for directions and then driving away before the person had a chance to answer you.
If you already know the answer, why bother to ask for help? I could have argued with the pharmacist that the first letter in the word was a small “a” not a capital “O” and a capital “L”. Because after all, I had already figured out with my own limited understanding of a doctor’s handwriting what the letters were for the name of the medication.
When the Lord was telling me to go to Rite Aid it did not make rational sense. I knew my medication could not be found there based on an authority, my doctor’s advice. But finding the medication for me was not all God had in mind. His answer required my trust and humility to once again obey him in the little things, so he might prepare me to follow him in bigger things.
“Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.”
“I call with my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher that your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
“Friends have you any fish?” “No”, they answered. He said, “Throw you net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”