Following Where God Leads
Reporting for Duty by Muriel Larson
It Made a Difference to That One by Richard Bauman
Who Do You Believe In? by Deb Bowen
Words in Due Season by Elaine Schulte
Good Recovery by Jeri Darby
Learning on the Commute by Sonya Lois Wilson
Reporting for Duty
by Muriel Larson
Rising early to catch a flight to teach at a Christian writers conference, I sang praises to the Lord, filled with thoughts of His great love for me. Then, as is my daily custom, I reported for duty.
“Lord, if there is anyone you want to reach or help today, use me.”
I arrived at the airport well ahead of time, checked my bags, parked my car, and went to the restroom. As I started to leave the lounge, I noticed a woman sitting with her feet propped up. A mop stood nearby. She was evidently the cleaning woman. I felt the Lord encouraging me to speak to her.
“You look tired,” I said gently.
She glanced up at me. “Oh, I am.” She sighed. “And I still have so much work to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. My poor feet hurt me so much!”
I hesitated. Should I say what had come to my mind? I decided to do it, even if she thought I was crazy. “Would you like me to pray for your feet?” I asked.
“Oh, yes!” she exclaimed. “Would you?”
I knelt by her and laid my hands on her feet. Then bowing my head, I prayed, “Oh, Lord, this dear lady has worked so hard, and she still has more to do while standing on these feet. Please take the pain away right now. Remove the weariness, and help this lady to feel up to completing her tasks!”
As I stood up, I saw the woman’s face wreathed in a smile. “Oh, thank you, ma’am, for obeying the Lord!” she exclaimed. “So few people obey Him, as I know you did just now. My feet feel so much better—the pain is gone! Praise the Lord! I’m going to be able to do the rest of my work!”
My newfound friend and I had the sweetest time talking about the Lord and praising Him. We discovered that we both had served Him as counselors for the same Christian television program. As I went on my way to catch my plane, I rejoiced that the Lord had allowed me to help this dear sister in Christ.
Hurting people are all around us—in church, at work, and in public places. They all need someone who is prepared to hear God’s still, small voice and to minister to them in the way He leads. The next time the Holy Spirit speaks to me, I plan to be ready to pray, comfort, encourage, or tell someone about Jesus and His love, ready to explain how He can deliver anyone from misery and death and give life.
What about you? Are you ready to report for duty?
© Muriel Larson
As “Dr. Muriel,” e-mail counselor for three Christian online magazines, Muriel Larson received hundreds of e-mails from hurting people around the world. She was a prolific writer whose book Joy Every Morning went into 31 printings. You can read more of her writing here: http://advicedrmuriel.blogspot.com and http://powertochange.com/blogposts/author/mlarson/page/2/.
It Made a Difference to That One
by Richard Bauman
Two men walked toward each other on an otherwise deserted beach, one man in his early 20s, the other obviously much older. The smooth, damp sand was littered with starfish washed onto the land during high tide and stranded when the tide ebbed. Thousands of starfish were doomed to die in the warm morning sun.
The young man watched the older man pick up one starfish after another and toss them back into the ocean. The young man thought, “Why is he doing that? How foolish!” He felt compelled to point out to the older man the futility of his actions.
“You know,” he said, “you can’t save them all. Most of them will die here on the sand. What you’re doing really won’t make any difference.”
The older man studied the young man for a moment. Then he slowly bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it into the water. He smiled at the young man and said, “It made a difference to that one.” Then he walked on, picking up starfish and tossing them back into the sea.
What we do for others who are less fortunate—the ill, the infirmed, the grieving, the poor—probably won’t wipe out poverty, illness, pain, or disabilities. Nonetheless, it is a mistake not to act because the little we can do seems insignificant. What we do makes a difference—it makes a difference to that person.
The local blood bank often calls my friend Jerry to donate blood. He has a common blood type, which is always needed, and he always says yes to the request. He says it isn’t a big deal to take an hour from his schedule every couple of months to donate a pint of blood.
The last time he donated, he got an idea of the difference he has made. A nurse looked at his record and commented that he’d donated 47 pints of blood—nearly six gallons—since he started donating some years ago. Jerry’s “no big deal” blood donations have made a difference to more than 130 people. He has helped save accident victims from death and helped others recover from surgeries and life-threatening illnesses. That’s a mighty difference.
Sometimes we won’t know what difference we’ve made until many years later. A teacher in a Caribbean country once had a little girl in her class who had no shoes. One weekend she bought the child a pair of shoes. The next year, the teacher moved to a different school and taught there for over 30 years. Shortly after retiring, she became ill and was hospitalized. In the hospital she was treated like royalty, and when she recovered, she wanted to thank the person responsible for the special care. She was told it was the hospital director who had ordered the V.I.P. treatment.
When she entered the director’s office, she was surprised to see a young woman in her early forties. When she thanked the doctor, the doctor interrupted her.
“I wanted to thank you,” she said.
Her words bewildered the teacher.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” asked the director. “You bought me a pair of shoes many years ago. You cared for me, and you inspired me to want to care for others, so I became a doctor. And finally, I was able to thank you for the shoes.”
The young man was right, of course. We can’t save all the starfish that wash up on the shore, but he was wrong to say that the old man’s efforts made no difference. When there is an obvious need, doing something is better than doing nothing—and doing something makes a difference, even if it’s to only one.
© Richard Bauman
Richard J. Bauman is the author of Awe-Full Moments: Spirituality in the Commonplace, a book about God working in our lives through everyday events.
Who Do You Believe In?
by Deb Bowen
My life in my twenties consisted of work, partying, and more partying. As a member of the internship program, I was climbing the ladder of success, but my main priority was being a “party girl.” I planned parties for after work, parties with old high school chums, parties for birthdays and retirements—parties of all kinds. I knew my reputation was at risk, because the older ladies in my office were talking about me. Then it happened, I found myself single and pregnant. I didn’t care what anyone thought—it was my child, and abortion was not an option.
After my “announcement,” my co-workers had more reason to talk bad about me. All except Carol, a Christian woman in her mid-sixties. She was my friend. We talked daily and went to lunch occasionally. I had even visited her church—once. While Carol was having lunch with a group of women just after my news came out, some wondered out loud what kind of mother I would make. She defended me, saying, “There is something special about this girl, and she is going to make an outstanding mother. She will make a better mother than some of the married ones I know.”
When her words got back to me, it made my heart sing. Someone besides my own mother believed in me and believed that I could be a good parent. Someone who knew about the wrong path I was on saw the promise of God in me anyway. Carol knew I could find the right path, with a little encouragement and love.
Through a series of circumstances, I gave my heart and life to Jesus before my daughter, Cassie, was a year old. One of the steps leading me to the cross was knowing that Carol believed in me. I could have listened to all the bad reports of those who did not believe in me (I gave them plenty of ammunition), and my heart could have grown harder. Instead I chose to believe a good report in the form of Carol’s words, and my heart softened. She raised the bar for me, and I accepted the challenge.
Now, seventeen years later, I still remember the twinkle in her eyes as she gave me a hug and told me I was special. Her faith and kind words made it more believable to me that God thought of me as special and had a plan for my life. Part of that plan is a loving husband, who adopted Cassie, and our family of six children.
Recently, memories of Carol came back to me in a big way. A friend’s twenty-year-old son, Rusty, has been in and out of trouble with the law and was spending time in our county jail. Just as Carol did with me, I saw something special in that young man. I wrote to him at the jail and told him so. I respected the fact that he turned himself in for the crime he committed, a first step in changing his lifestyle.
Not long after, the young man sent a letter to our two young sons, Joshua (11) and Michael (9). He wrote, “If you only remember one thing from this letter, remember this … choose your friends wisely. . . . as you get older your temptation to follow the cool crowd could cause you to do stuff that will tamper [with] your relationship with God and your family. Take it from a kid who has been there and done that and didn’t stand up for what he believed in. Trust me, you two are cool and smart enough you don’t need the ‘cool crowd’ or the ‘cool things’ to make you cool. You two are very special so stay yourself and listen to the ones who really love you (God, your parents, and your sisters). …”
Both boys will never forget the letter Rusty sent to them, and when they are tempted, I pray that the words of his letter will come back to them.
Carol believed in me and told me so. I believe in Rusty, and I tell him so. Who do you believe in? Someone out there who is on the wrong path needs somebody like you to raise the bar and help him or her find the right path. Can you be an encouragement and let that person know he or she is special to you, and more importantly, special to God?
Your words have power, so choose them carefully. We all need to keep in mind that there are no losers in God’s eyes. It’s easy to judge and be part of the problem, but it’s so much better to love and be part of the solution.
© Deb Bowen
Deb Bowen is a freelance writer from Aledo, Illinois.
Words in Due Season
by Elaine Schulte
On a quiet Monday morning, I hurried into our small village post office on the way to the hospital where my husband was on the critical list. His heart had stopped twice on Saturday afternoon, and I knew quite well that if he lived, he would require cardiac bypass surgery, which was not as common then as it is now.
The building was so quiet that even my footsteps seemed to echo. I rushed to our postal box, collected the mail, and then headed for the door. Rounding the corner, I nearly bumped into our local librarian.
“Please pray for us, Lucille,” I said, knowing that her husband often taught Bible studies. I quickly related what had so suddenly happened to my healthy fifty-year-old husband.
Her eyes widened with shock. “Oh no! How on earth are you managing?”
“The Lord has been with us every moment,” I replied with the astonishing strength He had given me. My words seemed to echo in the post office. “He promised never to forsake us. He hasn’t, and He won’t!”
She blinked at my boldness, and I thought, “Oh, dear, she must think I’m a fanatic. So be it. There was no time for further discussion. I had to hurry to the hospital.
“I’ll pray!” she called after me.
I climbed into my car thinking, “Lord, help me to stay strong. Don’t let me fall now.”
As I drove away, I thought it was peculiar, very peculiar, that this was the first time in the ten years we had lived there that I had seen Lucille at the post office.
Throughout that difficult time, the Lord continued to give me and our family enormous strength, but it wasn’t until my husband was recovering from bypass surgery that I found out what had happened to Lucille.
Four days after our encounter in the post office, she had returned home from work and found her husband dead of a heart attack at the breakfast table.
Stunned, I went to see her at the library.
After I had extended our sympathy, she said, “All that week I remembered what you had said, that the Lord wouldn’t forsake you. And that’s the first thing that came to mind when I needed his strength. I prayed, ‘Lord, you held Elaine up. Now please hold me up too.'”
I recalled my uncommon boldness at the post office and knew without a doubt that the unusual meeting with Lucille wasn’t by chance, that it was far beyond coincidence. And I thanked God that He had used me, even in the midst of my own difficulties.
© Elaine Schulte
Elaine Schulte is the author of several books. She and her healthy husband live in Tucson, Arizona.
Where He Leads, I Will Follow
Have you ever played Blind Man’s Bluff? The child who is “it” wears a blindfold and tries to catch other players by listening to their voices and footsteps. The seeing players have to answer when their names are called by the person with the blindfold, and they try to get away before they’re caught.
How often we are like the children playing this game. Like the blindfolded child, we cannot see where we have to go. If we call out to God, He will answer us so we can follow Him. We may not be able to feel Him, but if we keep following His still, small voice, we will arrive safely where we need to go.
Like the seeing children playing Blind Man’s Bluff, when God calls our names, we often hide from Him. We may not want to do what He requires, and so we pretend not to hear, and we run the other way.
Cover your eyes or sit in a dark closet and call out to God. Ask Him to direct your steps today and keep you close to Him. Then determine that with His help, you will follow wherever He leads.
by Jeri Darby
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ASV)
Driver’s training. A time that every teenager looks forward to and many parents dread.
“You’re too close. Slow down a little. Give them more space,” I told my son. He hated my constant instructions. It seemed to make him feel insecure. So once I felt more comfortable with his increasing skills, I gave only minimal feedback.
One day he made a sharp right turn and hit the curb, because he didn’t straighten the wheel quickly enough. He didn’t panic and was back on track in seconds. I was impressed, but I could tell he was bracing himself for criticism.
“Good recovery!” I said, catching him off guard. “I don’t expect you never to make driving mistakes. I still make them,” I explained. “What’s important is how you respond afterwards.”
As believers, we enter “driver” (discipleship) training after we receive salvation. God, our instructor, knows that we are going to make mistakes down the road. He does not write us off when we err. He is more concerned with our corrective measures than our mistakes. When we act wisely by seeking forgiveness and turning away from sin, like a proud parent He says, in effect, “Good recovery!”
© Jeri Darby
Jeri Darby is a freelance writer from Bay City, Michigan.
Learning on the Commute
by Sonya Lois Wilson
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalms 16:11 KJV)
I was coming off of vacation and returning to my daily commute to work when God spoke to me in an unexpected way. I had been depressed about my life and current circumstances, and going back to work just deepened my depression. It was a decent job but not my dream job.
I was on the interstate, and after two weeks I had actually forgotten some parts of my route to work. So much so that I almost turned off at the wrong exit, not once but twice. As I got close to an exit, I looked up at the green highway sign, and the sign showed me the proper way to go. I followed the proper highway signs and got to work fine.
I smiled to myself after that. I had been saved for most of my life, and in the rush of everyday living I had forgotten the most important thing I have ever learned. We must always remember that God is in control, and no matter what dark days we go through, all we need to do is look up towards Him.
Whenever life gets hard or confusing, simply look up. God will guide you down the right path.
© Sonya Lois Wilson
Sonya Lois Wilson is a freelance writer from Morrisville, Pennsylvania.
by Rick Leland
“Instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” (Isaiah 55:13 NIV)
You said You would give myrtle
as an everlasting sign.
If those words came from any other they would be dismissed—
just another line.
Mountains and vast seas are apparent to the eye. But everlasting?
Can a mind really define?
You, my God, stand above all;
You spread your ever-loving arms—
expression radiant enough to cause the sun to shine.
You showed Your love everlasting
and pointed at me—
“That one, he’s mine.”
© Rick Leland
Rick Leland is a freelance writer and photographer from Three Rivers, Michigan.
The Dialogue of the Gift
by Reba Payne
Billowing nebula, galaxy holders,
Gospel story written in stars.
Papa, is this for me?
Yes, my child.
Black depths of ocean, teeming with life,
Cool lakes covered in mist like the breath of God.
Papa, is this really for me?
Yes, my loved one.
Jagged mountains that shred the clouds,
Deserts rippling with sun-soaked crystals.
Holy One, is this for me?
Yes, my chosen.
Jungles where even the air is green,
Flower-filled meadows with colors beyond counting.
Lord, is this for me?
Yes, my own.
Barking geese like feathered arrows in the sky,
Tiny jewel-green frogs with sticky feet.
Oh, Daddy, are these for me?
Yes, dear one.
Flailing whip, embedded thorns, driving nails,
broken body, abandonment, resurrection.
Lord, was this all for me?
Yes, my beloved. All for you.
© Reba Payne
Reba Payne is from Omaha, Nebraska, where she worked many years as a teacher. She has been writing poems since childhood.
Roaming the Path
Here are some resources you might enjoy as you continue down the path of childlike wonder and faith:
The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller
The Mom I Want to Be is T. Suzanne Eller’s honest, tenderly-written look at the pain of growing up in a dysfunctional family and the steps you can to take to heal from the past and raise your children in a loving, healthy home environment.
As she let go of “the last remnants of regret, bitterness, revenge, and remorse,” the metamorphosis that took place in Eller’s heart and mind helped her to forgive the past and see her relatives in a new light.
“I no longer saw my family through the needs of the child I once was,” she writes. “I began to see their needs and hopes and dreams in addition to my own.”
Not just a book for parents of growing children, The Mom I Want to Be will help even parents of adult children to heal from the past and begin to build a better legacy for coming generations.
A Thankful Heart by Carole Lewis
You’re probably familiar with the biblical admonition to thank God for everything. Carole Lewis, the author of A Thankful Heart, has experienced firsthand the power and blessing of practicing thankfulness in all situations, even when the unthinkable happens, such as when her daughter was killed by a drunk driver on Thanksgiving Day.
Lewis writes, “I have come to believe that being thankful in the midst of a tragic circumstance is the key to moving toward healing.”
Lewis discusses being thankful for difficult people, unexpected changes, stressful seasons, illnesses, financial ruin, and the times when you feel like you’re hitting rock bottom. She shows how gratitude in all circumstances can bring us peace and a greater intimacy with God.
By applying the principles in this book, readers will find calm in the throes of anger, peace in the middle of frustration, hope in the grip of despair, and healing in the midst of pain.
About the Photo
This photo of a man in the mountains perfectly symbolizes our walk of faith as we follow where God leads us. The man can’t see what’s on the other side of the mountains. But with his walking stick in hand, he will follow where he is led. In the same way, we cannot see what lies ahead of us in life, so we trust God to guide us safely along the way.
Photo used by permission of Morguefile.
Editor: Jeanne Gowen Dennis
Associate Editor: Sheila Seifert
Assistant Editor: Christine St. Jacques
© Heritage of Truth, LLC
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