Monday, May 26, 2008

God's Links of Purpose

Two fathers were walking through a park, that was filled with the things that delight a child’s eyes …..brightly painted rides, games and play stations. As the fathers walked through the park, each was followed by a child. One child was easily distracted , his eyes big at the sights and sounds around him. He was pulled to the right and the left. The other child was blind.
Which child do you think would still be following closely at his father’s heals when the father reached the other end of the park?
The blind child, of course, right?

In a very real sense we are blind as we follow our Shepherd Guide through the mazes of this life. We cannot see into the future and often cannot make sense of the past. But I believe God hinders us for our own good. It is easier to follow when we do not know where we are going. But how quickly we sometimes become discouraged wondering if there is a purpose to the things we experience.
Once in a while God parts the curtains and gives us a glimpse ….and sometimes lets us see more than just bits and pieces…He lets us see the connecting links of our experiences and how the thread of them weaves into His story, His purpose and plan.

I have such a story to tell. I tell it because it is through sharing our experiences that we encourage one another….. and I LOVE to encourage YOU !!!

My story’s first link ….. or perhaps I should rephrase that - I doubt there is a first link in God’s woven masterpiece that covers all of time.
The first link in my story as God has allowed me to see it - revealed itself in the fall of 2006.
I got a surprise phone call from a cousin I had not spoken to in several years. Even though we grew up knowing each other because our mothers were sisters, she was much younger than I and that of course meant we never ‘played together’ and had never developed a relationship as adults.
Lovella had a purpose in her call. Not only did she want to inform me of her newly found passion – blogging – but she was quite convinced that I should start a blog too. The thought scared me… open myself up to the big bad world in outer space? I tried to put her off , but she was rather insistent. Finally, just to satisfy her I said I would think about it and maybe start one at the end of the year. She seemed satisfied with that and I hung up thinking that was the end of it.
The thought did intrigue me though, since I was missing teaching ….and needed an outlet for my thoughts. An idea of doing a devotional blog began to grow but I was too nervous about the technical aspects about it to seriously consider it.
Lovella called me again around Christmas time . She wasted no time in getting to the point. “Well, it’s the end of the year. Have you started your blog yet?”
I was caught. I couldn’t go back on my word. I said I didn’t know how to start it. She very quickly told her she would help me.
So… she did and I did and I managed to publish one post a couple of days before 2006 closed.

How much I enjoyed the opportunity of having an outlet for my thoughts and my blog quickly became my passion.

The next link clicked into place in July of 2007. We had gone on vacation to Jasper and I left a little note on my blog invited my blog friends to make themselves at home while I was away to help themselves to the tea I had left. I apologized that it was cold. There was a little comment left on that post about how being from the deep south, cold tea was her forte. I smiled and immediately felt drawn to the commenter… Tammie. She somehow had stumbled on my blog – how exactly we have never been able to determine.

Another link clicked into place a month later when Carolanne in Australia decided to have a contest for her readers, a post on a place we would like to take her. Carolanne awarded me one of the prizes – the choice of one of her professional quality photos, enlarged and mailed to me.
As I pondered over the difficult decision of which photo to choose, my choice was focused on which one I could tie into a devotional post. As I prayerfully considered, one photo suddenly jumped out at me and the devotional thought with it. Without hesitation I choose the photo of a bridge.

The resulting post connected to the next link … Tammie was struggling with something in her life that that post gave an answer too and she left me a very sweet comment. That comment in turn so encouraged me … because I had been wondering if my humble words had any worth attached to them. Isn’t it neat that when you are doing what God wants you to do, He will not let you get too discouraged? Always He brings something across your path that gives you strength to continue !!
Because her comment so encouraged me I followed her to her blog and her e-mail address and left her a personal note.

From the very first we felt a strong out-of-the-ordinary drawing one to the other . We began an e-mail correspondence that quickly revealed to us how much we had in common even though we came from very different worlds. I was so disappointed when I found that she lived in the far south eastern corner of the USA in Mississippi and I lived in the south western corner of BC--- we were 3000 miles apart.
We quickly discovered that we both loved to study the scriptures and that began many hours of studying it together on line .. first by e-mail then by live chat. When we discovered that Tammie could call for free.. we also added the telephone to our lines of communication.
To our ongoing surprise we found that we thought and felt the same about many things and shared many life experiences. Early on in our budding friendship, we both suspected the other of playing copycat in her responses.
Then, we began to talk about wishing we could meet in person . At first it was only an impossible dream …. But then one day Tammie said… “I think I know a way !”
It was their 25th wedding anniversary year and she decided that instead of the cruise her husband offered her , she would rather come to Canada, a place they had never visited.
To make a long story short …. That is what happened … The pieces miraculously fell into place and we began to look forward to May, which was the only time that all necessary pieces fit. So we took it God had His hand on those two weeks !!

Then…. the links continued ….. We joyfully accepted the two weeks shared vacation as an usual gift from our Father’s hand .. but very quickly the ‘links’ continued far beyond our personal interest.

Benji and Tammie have had a ministry for some time – working in revivals with Benji both speaking and providing special music.
I ..began to wonder if Benji would be willing to sing in our church the first Sunday they would be in Canada. I contacted our home church and told them we had friends visiting from Mississippi and directed them to their ministry web page .
I received a very favourable affirmative reply and the details were worked out.

For some God-reason (smile) Tammie was struck with the idea that perhaps there might be some outreach missions work in our area that they could connect with while they were here.
To our great surprise Tammie discovered that indeed there is a work in Vancouver supported financially and hands-on by the Southern Baptist churches in her home area. The outreach director in Mississippi put her in contact with Janet , the contact person in Vancouver. In speaking with Tammie , Janet immediately put her in touch with Pastor Rick in Surrey. Pastor Rick responded by inviting Benji to minister in his church by leading the music part of the service and singing the second Sunday of their time in BC.

We had many excited conversations about our impending time together… I remember the day I off handed asked Tammie what Rick’s last name was.
When she told me, I almost fell off my chair… Stunned, I realized that we knew Rick personally. We knew him as a friend of my then not-yet son-in-law, before Rick was even a Christian . Years and a wife and children later, Rick was ordained as the pastor of Gateway Baptist Church . We were there at his ordination, but had not seen him since.

Now years later , we were being connected again.
How we enjoyed the Sunday in his church. We were so blessed and so enjoyed the multi-cultural diversity of his flock. And yet we were so connected by one Spirit. The Lord was so present that morning.

There was also a day arranged by Janet to tour the work going on in Vancouver. Benji and Tammie both were moved and feel that God is opening doors for them that they never would have dreamed of !! There are decisions to make and a time of waiting to see what God has in mind but definitely God is calling them to broaden their ministry.

There were sooo many indications the two weeks we were together that this was not just a vacation, but a time planned by God for things we do not yet fully see.

What is abundantly clear is that God had far reaching thoughts and plans when Lovella made that phone call to a cousin she had not spoken to in years. We are all watching … God certainly has our awed attention !!
There were sooo many indications the two weeks we were together that this was not just a vacation, but a time planned by God for things we do not yet fully see.

One thing that I love about how God’s kingdom works is that every person who supplies a link in His plan or purposes has an equal reward. How that knowledge should motivate us toward being diligent and faithful to be the link that God has need of .. be it ever so seemingly insignificant at the time.

“ And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps. “
(John 4:26,27)


Lovella said...

my eyes are leaking. . .

Julie you are so sweet to give me honourable mention to your chain links of God's hand in your friendship with Tammie. It really is wonderful to see how it all came about and I'm SOOOO glad that I followed the small voice in my heart to contact you. .
. . maybe next time Tammie comes to town the link can continue and I can meet your new friend too.

It WILL be wonderful to see how their ministry grows where they next expected it might.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Amen and amen. God works in mysterious ways.

Nicki said...

I had not realised that you had been a teacher. We were often reminded in our daily devotions (I was fortunate enough to teach in a christian school) that although we may not see the end results for many years or sometimes never every little thing that we do is a link in the chain of some childs life. But this applies outside of the school environment as well. All those little every day things that don't seem to have any significance are all part of God's plan. What a joy to be able to see where they have ended up. Thanks for sharing.

Strider said...

"It is easier to follow when we do not know where we are going,".... how true this is.... for the more "specific the direction" from the Father, the harder it usually is to bring that result to completion! "Who is blind, but the servant of the Lord". Great post.

Elsie said...

Wow, I LOVE hearing "God stories" like this! God works in such wonderful ways, weaving people and events together with results that are mind-boggling. Looking forward to hearing the continuing story!

Vicki said...

It's absolutely amazing how God works! This has me in tears, and I'm convinced now that Lovella's blog is a ministry, as is yours.

My finding your blog was a bit in reverse - when I first decided to begin blogging (thanks to the daughter of my former pastor and dear friend), I began a search for blogs of similar interests. One intrigued me, and one of his commenters caught my eye - Carolanne! Through Carolanne, I found Lovella and then you. What a small world the Internet is!

Thank you so much for sharing this story of one of the many ways God works in our lives.

Tammie said...

I’m so humbled to have been the recipient of all these links. God has blessed me with an overflowing cup this year … lagniappe as we call it in our area! Several years ago, I started praying that God would make Himself obvious to me as He worked IN me, and THROUGH me, and AROUND me. Since then, I have been overwhelmed by how often I am able to recognize His presence. This story allows you to see Him at work as well. May God be glorified through our story, and may those of you who provided a link be blessed for your obedience. I’m eager to see what the next season has in store for my family, and I challenge you to ask God to make Himself obvious as He works in YOUR life … but be prepared to be overwhelmed!