|A Red Chair Moment at
My head was pounding, no doubt due to the haze of yellow pollen that enveloped Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I walked to class early to reserve a seat. Steve Laube’s class filled up quickly, everyone vying to listen to this legendary literary agent. If I hurried, I would have time to return to my room, grab a Coke Zero™ and swallow a handful of ibuprofen, and allergy medication.
As I approached my building I saw my friend Sandra, sitting at an outdoor table. She didn’t see me walk up and I pondered whether to stop and say hello before or after grabbing headache medicine. I felt a nudge to stop now rather than later. “Honey, are you okay?” Her tearful eyes answered my question.
An hour earlier, author Susan May Warren gave the keynote address. She spoke of her experiences as a missionary in Russia. She captivated the audience, by her true story of God’s protection and provision, while being held hostage and robbed. Susan spoke about starting over with nothing when her family returned to the United States eight years later. In a shaky voice, Sandra explained she had a similar experience as a missionary in Eastern Europe. Susan’s speech stirred up emotions Sandra had suppressed. Until Susan May Warren’s speech, Sandra didn’t know of anyone else who would understand.
|Susan May Warren’s autograph for
my library book
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
As Sandra spoke, the silver charm of her necklace reflected the early morning sunlight. Inscribed on the simple charm was Psalm 139:14. I knelt down and prayed for her. We hugged and I wiped my own misty eyes, wishing I had worn waterproof mascara.
There was no time for me to return to my room for headache medicine. While checking my make up in the lobby restroom and I realized my pounding headache was gone! Outside I skipped towards Sandra (yes I skipped). I was excited to explain how God removed my headache!
Did God give me a holy headache so that I would come across her path? Was my headache a test of selfless obedience? During my week at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I signed up for several faculty appointments. However, my headache and discussion with my Sandra was divinely appointed.
What about you? Have you experienced a divine appointment? Please share in the reply below.
“This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.”
(Psalm 118:20, ESV)
I sat perfectly still captivated by the message. I dare not look around. The pastor was talking directly to me. How did he know? Had he read my prayer journal?
Until now, I had considered Numbers a boring book filled with ancient laws and moaning Israelites. Those thoughts changed this week. Sunday’s message was from Numbers chapter eighteen. I will attempt to give my abbreviated paraphrased version, which by no means is a substitute for the real Word:
In previous chapters, the Lord spoke to Moses detailing his responsibility to lead the people out of slavery. Aaron is next in line to receive his calling. The Lord offers careful explanation of Aaron’s new assignment, which cannot be completed by anyone else. The Lord tells Aaron, He has personally hand selected a group of people to help him in this role. The Lord refers to these people as “a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord”(Numbers 18:6). The Lord continues with a commandment to present the best and holiest part of everything to the Lord. Then the Lord, issues a promise, if Aaron presents the best part, it will be given back to him. (Numbers 18:29-30)
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
(1 Peter 2:9, NIV)
Numbers is thought to have been written between 1450-1410 B.C., over 3400 years ago. Yet, these three words, “The Lord said…” are just as relevant in our life now as they were to Moses and Aaron then. I am neither a great leader nor am I employed by the church, God reminded me this week, that He too has a purpose for my life that cannot be completed by anyone else. God reminded me that He has also given people as a gift to help me accomplish His task for me. Today in my prayer journal I wrote out the names of those people who have encouraged me in my walk with the Lord and in Red Chair Moments. These friends have prayed me through difficult seasons and encouraged me when I felt like a failure. Some of these friends are the ones who told me to write a blog and even help to edit posts for publication. Along with God, they could see something in me that I could not see.
College and High School graduates were honored Sunday. The nervous anticipation was palpable as the graduate’s photographs danced across the screen. Our pastor concluded his message explaining God’s purpose for our life is on the other side of the gate. These graduates are preparing to enter the gate. For some the gate might be college, for others it is their chosen career. Perhaps, their gate is marked with an unknown name. Our pastor shared these verses from Psalms:
“Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.”
“He will bless those who fear the Lord—
small and great alike.”
(Psalm 115:13, NIV)
Since the fall, I have felt God speaking, “April, Go!” “Where?” I respond. All signs led to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I took the blind step of faith and enrolled in the upcoming week-long conference. I am scared to not know anyone (for an introvert, this is a huge deal!) I am scared of feeling inferior and lonely. But more than anything, I am scared of what’s on the other side of the gate! I know God has already gone before me to prepare the way; I need to trust the owner of the gate.
God: April, Go!
God: Walk through the gate.
If God is stirring you to walk through a gate, don’t be afraid. You are not alone. You are God’s special possession and He will send you gifts of friendship along the way. He promises to “bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike” (Psalm 115:13).
Lord, open wide the gate…I’m coming!
|Andrew gave all that he had.
The Wade Family Christmas is a large affair, with a gathering of over one hundred, our clan mostly dressed in Wranglers and boots, gather at a local reception hall. Each year, our extended family chooses a family in need. Often we donate food and firewood, and money. This year my parents, and the kids and I packed up our firewood to give to a family member going through a difficult time. After dinner, the monarch of the family announced another collection would be used to purchase new dentures recently lost at the nursing home.
A few days later, I discover money and a note on the kitchen counter. I counted the money and read the note from Andrew: “New teeth.” I called Andrew into the kitchen to explain. He said, “Well, it’s not a lot, but it’s all the money I have, except for Wal-Mart gift cards. You can’t buy new teeth with a Wal-Mart gift card can you? We know two people who need new teeth and I want them to have my money. I have teeth. Everyone needs teeth, mom.” I cried. I lifted my head to the heavens and thanked the Good Lord above for this boy!
We spent Christmas Eve with my parents, my sister and her children. After the presents were opened, my mom announced she had one more gift to give. She handed Andrew a crisp twenty-dollar bill and said, “Andrew, I heard about you giving all your money away to help buy new teeth for Wilton. This is for you!” Andrew’s eyes lit up with excitement, and then he spoke, “But Grandma, this is too much. I only gave away $18 not $20.” She smiled at her only grandson and said, “No, you keep it!” From across the living room cluttered with wrapping paper, I asked “Andrew, what is it I always say about giving?” With a huge grin, he erupted, “YOU CAN’T OUT GIVE GOD!” It’s true; we can never out give God! In fact, the Bible says to test God on this subject.
“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
I received many treasured gifts this Christmas. However, the most treasured gift was watching Andrew walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to give; then watching his face light up when he received back more than he gave. That’s how God works. You can’t out give God!
“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (paraphrased with attitude)
I am participating in a Thessalonians bible study titled Children of The Day by Beth Moore. Each time we meet we are to greet one another by saying, “Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!” With warm mugs of coffee we say that to each other and laugh.
This week I have been really meditating on that verse and that truth. First of all we are loved by God, and secondly, He has chosen us. I mean chosen us! I can remember years and years ago attending a women’s retreat, in fact it was the first women’s retreat that I had ever attended. It was an in house retreat where we watched the video series Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Kay Arthur. I remember sitting in a small group struggling with feelings of being a failure as a parent. (Do you see an underlying theme here, going on in my life?) Andrew and Rachel were little, both preschoolers, and just at that season of our life. I will never forget opening up to my small group and sharing my feelings. I was feeling like God gave these children to the wrong mom. I remember thinking “I can’t do this.” I felt like I wasn’t the right mother for these children. The small group leader Holly, looked at me and said “April, you have been chosen.” She reminded me then, as I was reminded this week in scripture that I have been hand picked by God for what He has me doing, right now. As I reflected on the words “Hey sister loved by God, He has chosen you!” I thought about how God used my friend Holly back then. I still have those words, faded now, written on an index card on the front of my refrigerator.
My friend Holly moved away around 5 years ago . I decided to send her this text: “Hey sister loved by God, I know that He has chosen you! I am studying 1&2 Thessalonians and I am praising God for you! I am thanking God for the day you revealed this truth to me many years ago at the women’s retreat.” Almost immediately, I got a message back from her telling me she was in tears. She had been up all night, wrestling it out with God, over an email she had received. She had been up all night praying and wondering if she had done or said something wrong to upset a friend. She said my message to her that morning was divinely appointed.
I love that! I love the way God uses scriptures and others to be boomerang effect. She encouraged me many years ago, in the Spring of 2008 (from the best of our memory) and now I was able to encourage her! In fact I asked her permission to tell this story, because I was sitting in my red chair while texting her, so it qualified as a Red Chair Moment.
Life is hard. But know this: You are loved by God and He has chosen you!
“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12