And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
1 John 5:14-15 NLT
The past few weeks, our church sermons have been about defining moments in our lives where you knew they were orchestrated by the Lord. Times of trials and joys and what was it that made it a defining moment for you? Did this moment in time grow your faith? Show you how much Jesus listens to you, your cries, your prayers? And would you be willing to share your testimony of what those defining moments looked like in your life?
These sermons started me thinking. What have some of the most defining moments in my life been and there are two that stand out. Oh yes, I have had more than two and I am sure at some point I will share those also, but these really rooted my faith in the Father.
I gave up my life to follow Jesus at the age of 11. I have always been someone that loves Jesus. I had drifted away from talking to him all the time, but in 2006, after many hard times, and trying to do it all on my own, not leaning into Him or focusing on His strength, not mine, he showed up in a pretty big way. If you have heard this before, please forgive the repeat, but these moments were huge for me.
I used to work for a big box retailer and part of my job that day was to count products and make sure they were scanning correctly, fixing shelf labels and enter the data into our system if errors were found. This particular afternoon, I was in one of my least favorite sections of the store. The aisle that holds all the tiny travel sizes of shampoos, toothpaste, lotions, etc. Those are always a nightmare to count and check, but in order to have accurate counts and correct pricing, like any other item, it had to be done.
I set to the task and started counting, scanning, making notations, printing labels and things were going fairly quickly and as customers appeared in the aisles, I would stop and greet them, ask if they needed help and then continue on with this exhaustive task. One customer kept reappearing in the aisle, but something was different about her. Although she had replied several times that she didn’t need help, I felt a nudge in my heart that not only did she need compassion more than ever, the Lord was telling me to pray for her.
At that moment in my life, I loved praying for others through texts and emails but wasn’t confident about praying out loud for anyone. I always felt I would mess it up somehow, or I wouldn’t know what to say. And if you know Jesus, he doesn’t let us stay in our comfort zone for very long. He is constantly working to stretch us beyond our abilities because this is when He is our strength. He is the wisdom we need in our lives. And as futile as it was, internally I was arguing with Him. I was struggling to offer to pray. But no matter how many times I tried to focus on my job, the Lord wasn’t having any part of it and so I stood from my kneeling position and I asked once again if I could help her.
As she started to speak, tears gently rolled down her cheek. She told me that she had a brain tumor. She was told that without the surgery, to remove the tumor, she would die, but if she chose to have the surgery, there was a 50% chance she would recover and live a long life. It was scheduled for a few days away and her family didn’t believe in Jesus or God and that she was struggling in what to do. And then she apologized for burdening me with her problems.
I asked for her name. She told me her name was Robyn. I introduced myself to her, although clearly she already knew my name as my name badge was there for the world to see. And then, with a lot of trepidation and internal fear, I asked if I could pray for her. She said that would be great, she always welcomed prayers. But I wasn’t sure she understood my request. So, I went onto say, may I pray for you right now at this moment? Again, she agreed. I asked if I could place my hand on her shoulder and she said yes (by now a small crowd had gathered in this aisle, listening to every word) and I asked God to give me the words. I don’t recall what the words were, but I prayed with her and over her. We hugged and she cried. There were many tears that day. Before she left, she told me that earlier in the day, she had cried out to the Lord and said, Lord if you are in agreement with me having this surgery, I need a sign. I need to know I am doing what should be done. She told me she knew she would be okay and slowly walked away.
I never saw her again. But I know she is living her life to the fullest. And that was the day, I stopped letting fear take over and started listening to the nudges from the Holy Spirit. I think about that moment as if suspended in time. I can see her face, I can feel how I used to think – Why me? Why can’t someone else do it? – and I still remember the blessing of being able to walk in obedience and do what was asked of me, even if I did it with a little bit of fear. As for my work that day, I did complete it, but with a lot more joy in my heart than when I had started.
The enemy will do everything in his power to squash us, our faith, our relationship with Jesus. He will create doubt within us if we let him. Don’t. Trust that no matter what Jesus calls you to do, he will give you everything you need to accomplish it!
The second most defining moment had to do with our Christmas tree. Our son, now 23, was 11 years old and he loved everything to do with Christmas, but especially putting up the tree. During this season in our lives, there were no extra funds for anything extra. Gifts were made for our children and maybe a few special items from a dollar store.
The night we drag the Christmas tree box out of storage, sort the branches by size and reach into the box to get the plastic tree stand out, his boyish grin, all excited with anticipation, falls to the floor and sadness overtakes his entire face. His shoulders are slumped down and he is about to give up because the plastic stand was old and somehow had broken in several pieces while in storage. He knew our situation. He knew we didn’t have money to buy a new tree with a stand or a stand that we could use, but I have always believed duct tape is the only tool I need. His father and I were separated and his father lived far away, so coming up with a solution to mend this stand, was forming in my mind, but I knew this was a way to teach him about faith.
I assured him that not all hope was lost. I asked him to retrieve a small board from my closet and the roll of duct tape. I was sure we could fix it. He tried to be brave and not let me see his tears and said, “it’s okay mom, we don’t need a tree this year.” My heart sank. I asked if he believed in the power of prayer and if he believed that God could make this tree stand. He said maybe. So, as I begin to tape together the stand, I prayed to ask God to help me. I knew that for my child to believe, he needed something tangible that he could see. And God knew that too.
After several moments of attempting to tape it together and then fashioning it into something that resembled a tree stand, we secured it to the small wooden board. Again, I asked him, if you believe in your heart that Jesus is God and God can do anything, will you pray with me and let’s ask God to help us help our little tree stand, with all the ornaments and lights on it. With the star on top. For God to strengthen this heavy tree, so we could celebrate Jesus and His birthday. AND if the cat, went exploring, as she always did when the tree was put together, that the broken stand would hold her ground. So we bowed our heads and held onto that board and we prayed. We also thanked God for his love for his children and for his help.
I have no doubt it was all God. That little stand and that tree with heavy ceramic ornaments and many strands of light and a very inquisitive cat, held up until the tree was finally tossed out as it had many years of use (approximately 10 total, 4 with the mended stand). And his faith grew. He knew that he could go to prayer to God about anything, anytime and God would listen.
As our son, has grown into a man, he knows that sometime’s God says yes, sometimes no and sometime’s wait. But I know as a mother, that was one of his defining moments and definitely one of mine; I am so blessed by the love Jesus shows every day to each of us.
These moments remind me in my darkest times, that God is always with me. That I don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers, because HE is and HE does. It is my responsibility to trust Him in everything and for everything.
May you know how much Jesus Loves You! You are His child. He is always listening. He can and will use any mess as a message to others and any test you go through as a testimony to His glory! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith