Prodigal: Yes, we need information from signs at times.
Me: I agree.
This is from the book Small Miracles for Women by Yitta Halberson & Judith Leventhal
One morning in 1975 in Greenwood, South Carolina. Dorothy Nicholas sat scribbling at her kitchen table. She was trying to compose an appropriate slogan. Even though Dorothy is an award-winning writer and former advertising copywriter, she sometimes has trouble finding just the right words. And she sensed that these needed to be perfect.
The words were for a sign hanging over the self-service gas station Dorothy managed with help form her disabled husband, Fred. They had started working a week ago, pulling their trailer from Orlando up to Greenwood, and the job seemed simply enough, just sitting at a drive-up window, taking money from customers.
“It was a bit of a lark,” Dorothy admits. “Fred and I called a lot of places “home” during those years, because we both yearned to travel, and with our children grown, we could do it.” Sometimes they settled for a while and took jobs, and this was one of those times.
There was already a lighted advertising sign on top of the building, but Dorothy’s new boss had told her she could replace the message with anything she liked. “I had heard that this chain of stations was frequently robbed,” Dorothy says, “so I was thinking about a safety-related slogan.” At the same time, she felt that God was nudging her, encouraging her to make her trust in Him known to others. She tried several ideas; then inspiration struck.
“What do you think of this?” she asked Fred.
He studied her scrawl: GOD IS OUR SECURITY GUARD–ALWAYS ON THE JOB. “That says it pretty well,” he told her. The next day, he spelled it out on the lighted board.
The sign was impressive, but it seemed to have little or no effect on anyone. Few customers commented on it.
After five months, the wanderlust struck again, and Dorothy and Fred resigned and took off in the trailer. Time passed.
“Sometimes we would travel that route, going from Florida to North Carolina, and I always felt a little glow as we’d drive by the sign,” Dorothy says. Subsequent managers had liked it well enough to keep it up. But, remembering her strange urgency to find just the right words, Dorothy wondered if the sign had really mattered to God, after all.
In 1988, Dorothy and Fred found themselves in Gainsville, Florida. At church they met Janet and Larry, a young couple living nearby. The four got along well, and when Dorothy and Fred had temporary health problems, their new friends proved to be a blessing, running errands, providing an occasional meal, and just being there. “I don’t know what we would have done with out you.” Dorothy told Larry more than once. She was growing quite fond of this kind clean-cut young man.
One evening Dorothy invited Janet and Larry over for dinner. The four sat around table, talking in a leisurely way. Fred and Dorothy were surprised to hear that Larry had grown up in Greenwood.
“Why, we worked there once….,” Dorothy began. Had they ever met Larry? She started to ask him, but having begun to talk about himself, Larry couldn’t stop.
“I’ve had a pretty rough past,”he went on, pent-up words suddenly tumbling out. At 16, he gotten involved with the wrong crowd and had spent a year in reform school. After his release, he’d wanted to start over again, but because of his record, he couldn’t find a job.
“One night in 1975,” Larry continued, “I decided to rob a gas station for money to leave home.” There was a self-service station nearby, so he stole his father’s gun and car, and just before closing time, he drove up to rob the woman sitting at the window.
But before pulling his gun, he glanced at the roof of the building. There had always been a sign there, but someone had recently changed the words. “When I read the message,” Larry said, “I knew I couldn’t rob that place–or do anything else illegal.” He went home, prayed all night, and begged God to help him straighten out his life.
Dorothy and Fred looked at each other.
“What did the sign say, Larry?” she asked gently.
“I’ve never forgotten those words,” the young man assured her. It said, “GOD IS OUR SECURITY GUARD–ALWAYS ON THE JOB.” And he is, Dorothy. He guarded me from danger that night, and he has ever since.”
Dorothy’s heart lifted. It had taken 13 years, but now she knew the source of that strange longing, the need to find just the perfect words. God used her small act of faith to bring a lost child safely to his side.
–Joan Wester Anderson
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Me: How they taste will determine if you should be impressed or not.
Prodigal: I am not concerned that they will not taste good!
Howard G. Hendricks once said “Great impressions can be made from a distance, but reality can only be tested up close.
Has your impression of someone ever been disappointment when you start viewing them up close? That has happened to me. I think we tend to forget that some people are really good at giving off a good impression, but all they are showing us is an impression.
As a therapist, I often hear I want to change no matter what it takes. I really believe most people want to change, when they say this. I also can see how they want to show others that they really want to change.
After weeks or months though it becomes a different story. Some will stop the process completely. Others are not consistent. Then there are those, that have a block to change. How do I know what will happen. I have to get up close, to figure out what is really taking place, and not the impression they are trying to give.
Disappointment fills my spirit, when I get up close and realize someone did not really want to change at all. They were saying they wanted to change, but had another motive.
How do we deal with all of this in people around us? Did the bible tell us?
Matthew 7:16-19 (NKJV)
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
The word of God tells us that we are not to focus on just impressions that people give us. We are to look at fruit. Fruit is not an abstract concept but something that is concrete. It is something that can be examined. You can smell fruit, taste fruit, look at fruit and feel it.
An impression of someone is just a picture of a fruit. It does not tell us all about that fruit. We need to examine behaviors, relationships, speech and spirit. When we look at these concrete areas in their lives we are able to get up close. We look beyond a pretty picture that is presented to us.
If no one could speak suddenly, what would that say about their lives? Would they still have fruit? Could we see Christ in how they treat others? Could we see Christ in if they serve others? Could we see Christ in if they attempt to learn His words and spend time alone with Christ?
Examine some people’s fruit this week. God doesn’t want you to be disappointed. He is trying to warn you. Some people are just showing you a picture of fruit. Don’t take this picture for the real thing.
I was staring at the website. I was disappointed, hurt, and even pride showed up. Being a writer can have its ups and downs. I felt like this was a confusing down that I was experiencing.
I had submitted a piece to an editor. I thought the interaction between us had gone very well. I was happy with the content that was written and it was submitted. Writing takes time from when it is submitted to when it is actually published in print, or on the screen. I knew this and was familiar with the process.
It had been months and I had no communication with the editor. I knew this was the time frame they were going to publish. I decided to go to the website. That is when I saw an article. The article was displaying some other writers words and as I searched, my name was missing.
That is why I was disappointed. I was hoping to be published with this site. I had been encouraged and thought I would be. Then I became hurt. How could they not think I was a good writer. I began to take it personal instead of examining other possibilities. The last emotion to show up was pride. I had read some of the information and thought. What I submitted was better than that.
As I sat there with these emotions and thoughts swirling in my head, I felt like I was going to take a road of sulking and self pity.
Then I stopped. The Holy Spirit seemed to stop me. I said a prayer.
“Lord I don’t know what has happened. I don’t understand it. I know you did not want me published on this site. I surrender it all to you, with my emotions.” Lord I trust you with how you will use my writing.”
Instead of a bucket of yucky feelings swiring in my spirit, I had a transformation. I felt peace. I could focus on the Lord, and I could move on to what God wanted me to focus on.
I have not always responded with my focus on the Lord, but I was grateful that this time I had.
Time passed and then, it was a busy Monday with lots of communication to respond to. I quickly opened the email, being prepared to trash the correspondence. I completely changed that idea as I began to read. It seems that the editor had written back and I was published in an article.
The first article was part of two articles. The first one was just the warm up let’s say. The one where I was published was for the top writing.
God had told me no. I did not understand. What He knew was that no meant yes for something better. We have heard that before. A no, can be praise worthy because it means yes to something better. People have told us this at times of difficulty. Someone was not telling me this, I was living this.
God is telling you no. You want to have a pity party. This is a no that can be praised. This is God telling you, that there is something better! Surrender your heart and pray for God to help you with the Holy Spirit. You will be amazed at what God can do with that prayer.
since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
He was only six years old when the accident happened. I don’t know how I knew it was really serious, for he complained of no pain, but I knew–I was positive.
Andy had been out in the front yard helping his dad get rid of some tall weeds in the vacant lot adjoining our property. Suddenly he came in the front door wiping moisture from his left cheek and said, “My eye is watering, Mommy.”
I’ll never know how or why I was so certain, but I felt a reaction like a blow in the pit of my stomach, and words formed in my mind, “His eye is hurt badly.” After trying to say some calming words to him, I went straight to the phone to call the pediatrician. It was 11:30 a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning. I told Doctor Wiedman that Andy’s eye was hurt and I needed for him to see Andy right away.
My husband Dan came in, and was surprised to find me calling the doctor since Andy was not even crying or saying that his eye hurt. But perhaps he thought my anxiety was due to the fact that I was expecting a baby, our third, in two months.
While driving the two miles, I looked over at Andy’s and with a sense of shock noted that his left eye was no longer shiny and blue. It looked dull, gray and almost flat. When we stopped at a light, I asked him to cover his right eye with his hand and tell me if he could see me. “No! That’s funny,” he said, “I can’t see.”
When we entered Doctor Weidman’s office, he greeted us, and after one hard look at Andy across the room, he left to bring back the eye specialist near his office. The eye doctor was very kind, but after a quick look and a few questions, he left. He returned quickly to say, “Mrs. God, there is one eye surgeon in this town who I feel might be able to help. I’ve called him at the Episcopal Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, and he will meet you there.” Noting my condition, both doctors suggested that my husband come and drive us there, which he did.
When the three of us reached the hospital, Dr. John Harry King greeted us in the gentlest way. He examined Andy deftly, talking to him reassuringly as he did so He spoke to us privately. “Mr. and Mrs. Gold, the cornea of Andy’s eye has somehow pierced, perhaps by a thorn. The reason it looks dull is that all of the fluid has gone out through the hole. Unfortunately there is no surgery that we can perform.”
“Is there any chance the eye can be saved?” I asked, desperately.
He paused, carefully choosing his words. “Yes, Mrs. Gold, a faint chance. The hole could heal and some of the fluid re-form. But, I must warn you it is a very, very slim chance and a medical rarity.” He agreed that we should give the eye every chance for any possible healing, and as this meant both eyes must be bandaged, we felt I should stay with Andy in the hospital.
It was a very old hospital, and they led us to a long , narrow room where they put Andy in a bed with sides to be sure he didn’t fall. A cot was brought in for me, and our vigil of keeping a healthy, active, six-year-old boy with bandaged eyes completely still and quiet began. When I quickly went home for a suitcase and some books to read to him, I made several calls, asking for prayers for our Andy.
Back at the hospital, the long evening finally drew to a close, and as things quieted down, I hoped Andy would sleep. Before he did, I asked him to pray with me. I’d found a special prayer at home, one I’d had but never used, except to read it casually. It was called a Nine-hour Novena, and I had always liked its wording. “Ask and ye shall receive; I ask, I seek, I knock, and request that my petition be granted.”
Andy repeated each phrase after me. I intended to make the prayer for him at hourly intervals all night long. He asked me to wake him so he could pray, too.
Though there was no air conditioning and the room was stifling hot, Andy quickly fell asleep. When I was sure he wouldn’t hear me, I knelt beside the cot and wept. But then, prayer came, “Dear Lord, please heal Andy’s eye….he wasn’t doing anything wrong or being silly….he was helping his dad. You know how he always notices everything in the house with his bright eyes; how he can find things for us all; how he tries to help watch his little brother. Oh please, please don’t let that eye be blinded.” Then I added a special request, “Help me to wake each hour, on the hour, to say the novena.” As tired as I was, this was asking a great deal.
I seemed to fall asleep quickly, as Andy had. I woke later and looked at my watch. It was exactly 11 p.m. I knelt again, and read the prayer form a light in the hall. I whispered, “Andy?” He, too, was awake and joined me in the prayer, then seemed to go right back to sleep. I drowsed off too, but at midnight some inner alarm clock sounded and I prayed again. After the third time this happened, exactly this way, I was no longer surprised. It seemed natural and right and I somehow felt sure it was God’s way of letting us know we were in His care.
When I read the prayer for the sixth time–at three a.m.– I felt the greatest warmth and sense of comfort I can recall. The words came alive, bringing tears of gratitude to my eyes. Though I didn’t hear an audible voice inside, I felt God speaking to me, reassuring me, inviting me to let go, to relinquish Andy’s problem to Him.
“Thank You, Lord,” I murmured, “for caring, for staying so close at this time. Yes, I trust You to deal with Andy’s eye.” I had no way of knowing if my child would indeed see again, but whatever happened I knew God would help us through the ordeal. I felt so very loved, somehow, in that dismal little room.
At 6 a.m, as we said the prayer for the last time, we heard activities beginning in the hallways. Doctor King had agreed to come in very early around 8:30, I think, and my husband and I met him when he arrived. The doctor talked with Andy a bit before beginning to remove the bandage to check for possible infection.
As he took the bandage off, I saw the incredulous look on Doctor King’s face. Then I looked at Andy.
The eye was round again! It was bright blue, and shining, exactly like the other eye.
“Mrs Gold, what have you done?” the doctor exclaimed, which, in retrospect, was an odd question. When I told him quickly and briefly of our “nine-hour prayer.” the doctor himself had tears in his eyes. Gently he covered Andy’s “good” eye, held up two finger and asked, “How many?” Andy said, “Two,” then replied correctly to other tests Doctor King tried.
“This is most gratifying,” Doctor King said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
In looking back, I know it was not just the novena that brought healing. It was prayer, repeated prayer, ceaseless prayer, unrelenting prayer–our own, plus the prayers of others–that brought us to the point where we relinquished the problem to God. To this day, if you ask him, Doctor King, the very famous eye surgeon whose cornea preservation technique led to the beginning of the International Eye Foundation, will tell you that it was prayer that brought about one of the most remarkable occurrences he has every witnessed–the restoration of a small boy’s eye.
by May Sheridan Gold
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Me: It looks like it’s about knee high to a giraffe.
Prodigal: I reckon it does.
Me: Have fun mowing!
This is form the book Bold Love by Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III
Love often succombs to a cold death on the sharp rocks of disappointment. Love cannot last long or live out its eternal purpose in human relationships without a foundation of forgiveness–the forgiveness from God for our failure to love with a pure, other-centered heart, and forgiveness when the recipient of our love spurns our gift or uses our soul in an unloving fashion. Unless the fabric of our involvement with others is woven with the threads of forgiveness, love will suffer the corruption of denial, hardness, cynicism, and eventually hatred.
Given the reality of sin, love and forgiveness are inextricably bound together. God is continually, literally, second-by-second covering our sin under His Son’s blood and forgiving us our sins. God cannot love us unless He forgives us and cannot forgive us without a commitment to love us. Love and forgiveness are equally bound together in all human relationships. I cannot hope to ever love someone unless I am committed to forgive him. I cannot hope to ever forgive him–that is, truly forgive him–unless I know the rich, incomprehensible joy of being forgiven.
Please forgive me. Then please love me again.
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
Someone put it this way: “Never doubt in the dark what God gave you in the light.” During the great days of your life, when God speaks through His Word, remember His promises. Rest in them, apply them, and expect their fulfillment. His promises are given for you to believe, not merely to quote. So? Believe them! Quit quibbling over them. Stop overanalyzing them. Believe them, which means you accept them, and then act upon them.
Lord I need your help right now. I am having a lot of doubts and fear is creeping in. I just talked with a person. You know how you talk to some people and you feel much worse after talking to them. My fears have now increased. Then you gave me these words. You knew what I needed. You would think the fear would leave immediately. Today for some reason I want to hold on to them more. Help me to let go. Help me to BELIEVE.
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.