These stories are provided for entertainment purposes only.
They do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of American Lutheran Church,
The South Dakota Synod or the ELCA
To the world you may be one person,
but to one person you may be the world.
A pastor's church is called Almighty God Tabernacle. On a Saturday night several weeks ago, this pastor was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn't answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn't answer, but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes.
Then he tried again she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn't answered before, and she said that it hadn't rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.
The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he'd used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he'd called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn't figure out what the guy was talking about.
Then the guy said, "It rang and rang, but I didn't answer." The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he'd intended to call his wife. The man said, "That's OK. Let me tell you my story.
You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, 'God if you're there, and you don't want me to do this, give me a sign now.' At that point my phone started to ring.
I looked at the caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God'. I was afraid to answer!
Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before
opening it, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:
The cheerful little girl was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.
"Oh please, mommy. Can I have them? Please, mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. "If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from grandma."
As soon as jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.
On her birthday, grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked jenny, "do you love me?" "Oh yes, daddy. You know that I love you." "Then give me your pearls." "Oh, daddy, not my pearls. But you can have princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, daddy? The one you gave me. She's my very favorite." "That's okay, honey, daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after story time, jenny's daddy asked again, "do you love me?" "Daddy, you know I love you." "Then give me your pearls." "Oh daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper." "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, jenny? What's the matter?" Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "here, daddy, this is for you." With tears gathering in his own eyes, jenny's daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to jenny.
He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is with our heavenly father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.
Isn't god good? Are you holding onto things that god wants you to let go of. Are you holding on to harmful or unnecessary partners, relationships, habits and activities that you have come so attached to that it seems impossible to let go? Sometimes it is so hard to see what is in the other hand but do believe this one thing .... God will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.
You can do two things with this story: a. Pass it on and let others be touched by its message; b. Throw it away and not let it touch your heart. The greatest gifts happen when you share love and touch others hearts!
On the very first day, God created the cow. He said to the cow, "Today I have created you! As a cow, you must go to the field with the farmer all day long. You will work all day under the sun! I will give you a life span of 50 years."
The cow objected, "What? This kind of tough life you want me to live for 50 years? Let me have 20 years, and the 30 years I'll give back to you."
So God agreed.
On the second day, God created the dog. God said to the dog, "What you are supposed to do is to sit all day by the door of your house. Any people that come in, you will have to bark at them! I'll give a life span of 20 years."
The dog objected, "What? All day long to sit by the door? No way! I give you back my other 10 years of life!"
So God agreed.
On the third day, God created the monkey. He said to the monkey, "Monkeys have to entertain people. You've got to make them laugh and do monkey tricks. I'll give you 20 years life span."
The monkey objected. "What? Make them laugh? Do monkey faces and tricks? Ten years will do, and the other 10 years I'll give you back."
So God agreed.
On the fourth day, God created man and said to him, "Your job is to sleep, eat, and play. You will enjoy very much in your life. All you need to do is to enjoy and do nothing. This kind of life, I'll give you a 20 year life span."
The man objected. "What? Such a good life! Eat, play, sleep, do nothing? Enjoy the best and you expect me to live only for 20 years? No way, man!....Why don't we make a deal? Since the cow gave you back 30 years, and the dog gave you back 10 years and the monkey gave you back 10 years, I will take them from you! That makes my life span 70 years, right?"
So God agreed.
AND THAT'S WHY....
In our first 20 years, we eat, sleep, play, enjoy the best and do nothing much.
For the next 30 years, we work all day long, suffer and get to support the family.
For the next 10 years, we entertain our grandchildren by making monkey faces and monkey tricks.
And for the last 10 years, we stay at home, sit by the front door and bark at people!
One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my son spoke up from his relaxed position in the front seat.
"Mom, I'm thinking of something."
This announcement usually meant he had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that his seven-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear. "What are you thinking?" I asked.
"The rain," he began, "is like sin and the windshield wipers are like GOD, wiping our sins away."
After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. "That's really good!" Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little boy take this revelation? So I asked, "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?"
He didn't hesitate one moment with his answer: "We keep on sinning, and GOD just keeps on forgiving us."
Please take a moment to relax your mind and humble your heart to focus on Christ. Allow God, to be the only person on your mind while you read this prayer. If we can take the time to read long jokes, stories, etc., we should give the same respect to this prayer. Friends that pray together, stay together. Let's pray...
<< 25 WAYS WE'RE DIFFERENT THIS CHRISTMAS
Be Fishers of Men.... You catch 'em, He'll clean 'em.
A family altar can alter a family.
A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church.
Exercise daily. Walk with the Lord!
Forbidden fruits create many jams.
Give God what's right, not what's left!
Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler.
God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called.
God grades on the cross, not the curve.
God loves everyone, but probably prefers "fruits of the spirit" over "religious nuts."
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
Having truth decay? Brush up on your Bible!
He who angers you, controls you!
He who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
He who kneels before God can stand before anyone!
Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.
Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity.
Never give the devil a ride! He will always want to drive!
Nothing ruins the truth like stretching it.
Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
"Pray" is a four letter word that you can say anywhere.
Prayer - Don't give God instructions - just report for duty!
The Will of God will never take you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
This Church is "Prayer Conditioned!"
To be almost saved is to be totally lost.
WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning!
Watch your step carefully! Everyone else does!
We don't change the message; the message changes us.
We set the sail; God makes the wind.
We're too blessed to be depressed.
Wisdom has two parts: 1) Having a lot to say. 2) Not saying it.
DRINKING FROM MY
I've never made a fortune,
and it's probably too late now.
But I don't worry about that much,
I'm happy anyhow.
And as I go along life's way,
I'm reaping better than I sowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.
Haven't got a lot of riches,
and sometimes the going's tough.
But I've got loving ones around me,
and that makes me rich enough.
I thank God for his blessings,
and the mercies He's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
'Cause my cup has overflowed.
O, Remember times when things went wrong,
My faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke,
and sun peeped through again.
So Lord, help me not to gripe,
about the tough rows that I've hoed.
I'm drinking from my saucer,
"Cause my cup has overflowed.
If God gives me strength and courage,
When the way grows steep and rough.
I'll not ask for other blessings,
I'm already blessed enough.
And may I never be too busy,
to help others bear their loads.
Then I'll keep drinking from my saucer,
"Cause my cup has overflowed.
(Read this even if you're BUSY)
Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. In his opening address he said, "We can't keep Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with their savior. Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken."
"So let them go to their churches; let them have their covered dish dinners, but steal their time, so they don't have time to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ." "This is what I want you to do", said the devil: "Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"
"How shall we do this?" his demons shouted.
"Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered.
"Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow."
"Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles."
"Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!"
"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."
"Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards.
Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes."
"Give them Santa Claus to distract them from teaching their children the real meaning of Christmas. Give them an Easter bunny so they won't talk about his resurrection and power over sin and death."
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted. Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God's creation. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy!"
"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences."
"Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power
from Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!"
It was quite a plan! The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there. Having little time for their God or their families. Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives.
I guess the question is, has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge! Does "busy" mean: B-eing U-nder S-atan's Y-oke?
As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.
Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.
But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.
I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.
My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth.
The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.
My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.
And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.
I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.
Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."
May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through.
Please share this with someone you love, care about or even someone who needs Jesus in their heart. They may scoff, but at least the seed has been planted, and God will do the rest. May God bless you today and Forever.
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The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. "I love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room .... just wait."
"That doesn't have anything to do with it," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it ... "
It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice;
I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the
parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away ... just for this time in my life.
Old age is like a bank account ... you withdraw from what you've put in .... So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories.
Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less. No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared.? The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.
The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough." That's what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.
True, you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock."
At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.
When everything seems to go wrong ... just P. U. S. H! When the job gets you down ... just P. U. S. H! When people don't react the way you think they should just P. U. S. H! When your money is "gone" and the bills are due... just P. U. S. H! When people just don't understand you ... just P. U. S. H!
P= Pray U= Until S= Something H= Happens Pass this on to all the loved ones and friends who may need it; they may get it just in time.
Truly, great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget!
GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS
I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call for some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.
Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square." And so, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park.
I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.
"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
"Not really," he replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten today?"
"Oh, I ate something early this morning."
"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch."
"Sure," he replied with a smile.
As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.
"Where you headed?"
"Where are you from?"
"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
"How long have you been walking?"
"Fourteen years," came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending Story." Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert, but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. "Nothing's been the same since," he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."
"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.
"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked:
"What's it like?"
"To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?"
"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me."
My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said,
"Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in."
I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he said.
"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see."
I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.
"Where you headed from here?"
"Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon."
"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"
"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next." He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission.
I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.
"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet."
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope."
"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I said, "I love you, too."
"The Lord is good!"
"Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.
"A long time," he replied.
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."
"I'll be there!" was my reply.
He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."
"God bless." And that was the last I saw of him.
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them. I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...
If this story touched you, forward it to a friend! "I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again."
My instructions were to send this to four people that I wanted God to bless and I picked you. Please pass this to four people you want to be blessed.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached. Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards, let's continue to pray for one another.
God bless and have a nice day!
"Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of your love and power. Holy spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace.
In Jesus' precious Name, Amen."
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.
He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince! whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called The Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.
She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money--fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful, brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car, or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the ! side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box. It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
As I drove back through empty streets, the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life. I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.
Lord, show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain give them Your peace & mercy. Where there is self doubting, release a renewed confidence in Your ability to work through them. Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion, I ask You to give them understanding, patience, & strength as they learn submission to Your leading. Where ! there is spiritual stagnation, I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness, and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You. Where there is fear, reveal Your love, and release to them Your courage. Where there is a sin blocking them, reveal it, and break its hold over my friend's life. Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them. Give each of them discernment to recognize the demonic forces around them, and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it. I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. &g! t; Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something I know Christ would do
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In Character Forged from Conflict, by Gary Preston writes:
Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, there was a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold? They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet. They took more than a little satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job.
Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man."
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, "Wait a minute - I don't understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair."
The employer responded, "All the time you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.' None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his."
|From Leadership Fall 1999. Used with permission.|
|Editors clip Sheets, Nov. 2002|
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