Believing the Promises of God - in His Word

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed… Without weakening in his faith… Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. ~ Romans 4 [selected 18-21]



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The GIFT - Not Always Easy to Give = A True Story

OK, Lord. I’m ready ! Take me to the beach and let’s get started. I really did think this would be an easy task. God was bringing me ‘full circle’ to the very place where I received my own salvation over forty years earlier. Ocean City, NJ just 20 minutes from home! How hard could it be? Wouldn’t everyone be thrilled to get one of these books? You clearly said today was the first day – so off we go. I’m smiling and content with the Lord’s leading.

June 7th , 2010 ~ 1PM.
Spreading out my beach blanket on the windswept sand, I opened my beach chair and sat down facing the afternoon sun and waves. OK, Lord, show me who they are. Open my eyes that I might see who You are drawing to Yourself. I’m ready and willing to hand these out. [Not].

There’s a row of teenagers lying on their towels near me, just above the shoreline.
I could pick any one of them. The two closest were embracing each other in an intimate manner. Would your mother be proud of this moment if she saw you here doing that? A maternal spirit arose within me. Or was it a judgmental one? Remember, they don’t know any better. That’s why they need the Gift -The Message made clear. I reasoned in my mind that there were too many to tackle in that bunch so I decided not to give one
to any of them.

A man came walking along, seemingly looking for a place to buy a cool drink. He had a wallet in his hand and just as he got closer he turned in my direction as though he were going to come right up to me. Is this one, Lord? Him? What do I say? How do I approach him? After asking the Lord too many questions the man walked right past me and I missed the open door.
Ugh!
A wave of fear came over me. What are you afraid of? You have the Gift of eternal life in your hands. These people will never see you again. Are you going to let the fear of rejection paralyze you? It already had.

Lord? I prayed. There was nothing else I could do except pray at this point. I was already defeated in my mind. I’ll do it. The next person You bring to me, I will surely give the Gift to. Please give me another chance? I promise. I won’t fail You again. Never make a promise you cannot keep.

Before the last word was out of my mouth a young platinum blonde woman was walking right toward me [again]. She was carrying a very large tote bag on her shoulder and holding her sandals in her hand as she walked across the billowing sand. She didn’t look like she had come prepared to go to the beach; more of an afterthought perhaps. The closer she got to me the more the fear arose within me. She was carefree and happy. She probably already knows You, Lord. Can we skip her? As she walked past me a quizzical look doned on her face, like she was pondering something joyful in her life. As she crossed over the jetty rocks onto the next beach a feeling of desperation came over me. Lord, I need to go after her. How can leave my stuff and go? Again, I missed another one. How can this be? Maybe she’ll turn back and I can have another chance. Please, Lord, make her turn around? But with each passing step her frame got smaller and smaller in the distance. I wept over this one. She never returned my way again.

A woman seated behind me was all alone in her beach chair reading a summer novel. I’ll give her the Gift for sure, Lord. Leave it to me. I’ll catch her before I leave. I looked back several times waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity. Then, I looked back once again and she was gone. Vanished. Into thin air. How can that be? I wept again. Another one bit the dust.

Next, an unusual young couple came walking along the shoreline holding hands and smiling at one another without a care in the world, so it seemed. Again my mind reasoned away the Gift that awaited them.

Then a couple my age [that's over fifty] walking together near the water suddenly broke apart as the wife spotted the rest rooms behind me on the boardwalk. The husband, a larger man who walked with an unusual step in his stride, shouted to the wife, “I’ll meet you in the next block along the water.” How sweet to make sure she would know where to find him. Maybe she had fears too. Fears of being ‘lost’? His voice making sure she would be ‘found’. Is He sick, Lord? Cancer perhaps? Their last chance to be together? Maybe I should leave them alone. Maybe I should not hand them the Gift. What if no one has told him about the Gift. What if he dies without the Gift? That’s exactly why I’m here today. By Divine appointment. Isn’t that what You said, Lord? Today was going to be a day of 'Divine appointments'?

He was waiting for his wife as she emerged from the rest room. Taking her hand in his they walked on. The Gift was still sitting in my bag. Ugh! What is wrong with me? You picked the wrong person to do this, Lord? Why is this so hard?

Now the teen couple was alone. The others had toddled off in search of a snack. Now they are getting more serious in their embrace. Does he have any respect for this young woman? Does she have any respect for herself? Apparently not. The ‘petting’ has now gone a bit too far, right here on the open beach. I turn my head from their shame. Perhaps the Gift is too convicting……… offered in the midst of their sin? I could do nothing.

The hand-holding younger couple had returned from the way they had gone. Still, no boldness arises within me. He’s a God of ‘second chances’. But I’m already doomed and defeated in my heart. I let these pass me by.

People need the Lord . The song [by Steve Green] rolled through my mind like a broken record.

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What could be too great a cost
For sharing Life with one who's lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the Words of Life
Only we can share.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize that we must give our lives,
For peo-ple need the Lord.

People need the Lord.

There were more people than I can count that day. But the last two were the most impacting. An empty beach chair drew me with all its owner’s belongings strewn around it. OK, Lord. I’m choosing the coward’s way out. I’m gonna leave the Gift on that empty chair if it kills me. But what if someone sees me drop it on the chair? What if the person returns just as I’m about to leave the Gift? What if……….? I shut up – packed up and headed home.

Snapping a picture of the empty chair seemed like the only desireable memory that was safe to take with me. At least there was hope in that empty chair. Was I brave enough [or coward enough] to leave the Gift on its seat?


Arranging the Gift on the top of my bag so I can get to it easily and without much ado, I trudged back toward the boardwalk with all my gear in tow. As I approached the empty chair, I glanced around quickly to see if anyone was looking. Coast seemed clear – but my heart pounded out of my chest. I almost fumbled the Gift taking it out. Plop. Right on the chair it falls. Whew! Coward. You chose the easiest one….with no confrontation necessary. Now all you can do it pray over the owner of that chair.

Thinking my defeated day was done and that’ failure’ was the label of the day, I scurried up the steps onto the boardwalk. What about him? The man in the wheelchair hung his head low as I approached. This time I was bold. This time I would not fail at my task. This time………..

“Excuse me Sir. May I give you a Gift?” Taking the book out of my bag I held it up for him to see.
“What is it?” he asked hesitantly.

"It’s the Gospel of John – a modern day paraphrase of the Bible. There’s a story at the end that I hope you will read…..”

My words were cut short as he shook his head saying, “No. No. No,” over and over, he repeated the word as if to stab me with it.
“No, Sir?” I ask in disbelief. “Are you a Christian, Sir?”
“No. No. No,” he repeated again, still hung his head as he shook it back and forth. He answered no more questions. Silence. I just stood there. Tears welled up inside of me. Failure. Defeat. But, Lord, what about His heart? I want to give him hope for his future!

“Have a blessed day, Sir,” I said softly and gently, as I turned and walked to my car. I breathed in the gentle ocean breeze. That man must have some deep seeded hurts in his life to be so opposed to God. Did the disciples of Jesus have it this hard, Lord, when offering the Gift of eternal life?

_________________________________
John 6:40-48
40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
41At this the Jews began to grumble about Him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." 42They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"
43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. 44"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.'Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me. 46No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only He has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life.
_____________________________________________

Sometimes - even in our desired attempts to obey God - we fail Him miserably. But He knows our heart. That was part of the lessons learned that day. It may take me all summer to get it right - but I am willing to do it all over again - the next time. I desire to share the HOPE that is within me. It's all part of coming 'full circle' in my earthly Promised Land.

Will you join me in prayer for the person in the empty chair? That the Gift fell where the Father was drawing - and that it fell on eyes and ears ready to recive it?

Choosing JOY, Stephanie

19 comments:

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

oh, precious Stephanie. I am praying for the one in that empty chair. I am just so thankful that you listened and left it there. What an awesome opportunity!

Praying for the others that will receive the gift....

Yolanda said...

Stephanie,

I think of how in the quiet times, the gentleness of leaving your gift of the most precious Gift we'll ever be given....the receiver didn't have to worry about man in the moment...but can savor the gift with no eyes watching but Our Abba's. PRECIOUS!

With love,
Yolanda

KrippledWarrior said...

I, personally, do not believe everyone i gifted or called to be an evangelist.
Are you sure that is your calling? I'm praying for you.
Kurt

TRUTH SHARER said...

Yes Kurt - this was definitely something that the Lord set up for me to do this summer. In fact - on that day - I did not want to go - but He clearly said - this was a day of 'Divine Appointments'. I know He was humbling me and teaching me many things - even how easy I thought it was going to be - that it did not turn out to be easy - but something that was definitely His doing and not mine. It also made me see people from His perspective - rather than my own. If it was easy this first time - I believe I would have developed pride in my own abilities but He clearly humbled me that day to depend totally on Him in what HE alone is doing in the lives of those 'divine appointments'.

This really makes me vulnerable in even writing about it here but I felt very called to write this as well - so maybe others will not fear when asked to share the hope that is within them.

He also showed me that even in all those missed attempts that I had - that His eye may have been only on that one "empty chair".

Thanks for your prayers and
Beth and Yolanda - thanks for your encouragment too. I know your heart is to share Jesus with all you meet.

Choosing JOY, Stephanie

Heart2Heart said...

Stephanie,

Praying that the person who returned was the one that God really wanted to bestow the gift upon. It's your willingness to take that step of faith, no matter how you did it. Our Father will make sure that this seed will not be planted in vain.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I love your heart, and I know this was hard for you in so many ways. God works his will in us, even when we feel as if we let him down.

You didn't, sister.

peace~elaine

Suzanne said...

My prayer: “May God’s ever-presence touch the person whose empty chair called out to Stephanie that day. Amen.” Our heavenly Father indeed knows the intents of one’s heart (Hebrews 4:12). You fulfilled your purpose that day, in the giving to the unseen person, whose empty chair called out to you (Romans 8:28). Desire is prayer, so let your heart be joyous, because you came full-circled that day to also receive enlightenment for yourself (Colossians 3:23). Y’see, sometimes we don’t recognize it. At least I’ve noticed this at times in my own life, which I’ve written about some of them in Mommy’s Writings. What I’ve discovered in life’s journey is that it’s then when Jesus carries me and I grow closer in understanding and fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. God blesses you, Stephanie.

Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author
www.strategicbookpublishing.com/Mommy, would you like a sandwich?

prashant said...

I am just so thankful that you listened and left it there. What an awesome opportunity
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Camille said...

This is a beautiful post Stephanie! I believe that with God ALL things are Sovereign appointments...how precious that we have the BEST news to share! May HE give us the boldness to talk of our Saviour! I remember working in a restaurant when I was about 20. Only one other of the workers (that I know of) was a Christian...how could I share the Gospel with the rest?? I prayed for opportunities to witness. Oh...when you pray that it happens!! AND HE gives the ability to share...HE is so gracious with us. i was scared too...but HE opened the way and gave the grace. How WONDERFUL! A few years later (it was only ONE boy that I witnessed to) I ran into him...in the Christian bookstore! The LORD had saved him!! I was dumbfounded!! Often we are "links" in the chain...we rarely see the results or we would become proud...how true that is! :)

I will pray for the empty chair. Thanks for sharing!!

Blessings,
Camille

Just Be Real said...

Powerful message Stephanie. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

Tea With Tiffany said...

I love this post. And I believe the GIFT went to the right heart on that empty chair. Sometimes God works that way so we never know the outcome. He works...Maybe in heaven, you will meet the one you passed on the gift to and you two will rejoice in your simple obedience. His Word is powerful. I've had an experience similar but different and I understand the wrestling. Praying for the man who said no and more no. Praying for the person in that once empty chair. And believing for more divine appointments on the beach.

Peace and love,

Tiffany

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

This was the most refreshing post I've read in months! Thank you for sharing from the heart, your transparency. We could all put ourselves in your shoes (or should I say flip flops) on the beach that day. Anticipating bold things, but cowering in the face of reality. You are an amazing woman of God, and in the name of Jesus, I pray that the gift left in the unknown chair will bring about much fruit.

TRUTH SHARER said...

I had to add an update here...

I have given out at least 5 more of these gospels of John and so far each one has been received with JOY!

I guess God really did get my 'fear of rejection' out of the way on my first attempt - with the man in the wheelchair - so the worst is over and now I'm not as fearful to step out in faith to give these out!

And yes - I see more and more how that 'mpty chair'really was the divine appointment of that day!
Thanks for all the encouraging words to help me go forth!

How good is GOD?? He is amazing - as always!

Praise Him with me!
Stephanie

Surprised By Joy! said...

Thanks for being so real in telling your story. I can totally relate. I am trying to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit and then act on it. The listening is easier than the acting for sure.

I pray that God gives you a boldness to share the "gift".

When I was younger, before I knew the Lord, some college students came over to me and shared the gospel in the courtyard at the university I was attending. I thought they were crazy, but they planted a seed. Now, I am them.

Too funny :)

Blessings,
Tammy

Sonja said...

This was precious Stephanie, and which one of us hasn't been there and had that same pounding heart and fear?? Isn't it amazing... we KNOW that we have the answer to life itself, and still... we get that fear of rejection. I'm so glad He loves us all the time!

It sounds like you have gone on and are sharing His love... the Gift.

Loved this my friend!

Sonja

Melanie said...

Thanks for posting this, Stephanie,and for your follow up comments.

Crown of Beauty said...

Thank you for this post, stephanie!

It's been a while since I last visited, but you have never been far from my heart dear friend.

I have no doubt that the person that you left that GIFT for will be in eternity because of you.

I love the HOPEFUL tone with which you ended your post.

Hope is one of the major themes of my life story.

May blessings abound in your life today...

Love
Lidj

Nishant said...

I am just so thankful that you listened and left it there. What an awesome opportunity!
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LisaShaw said...

Stephanie, this BLESSED MY SOCKS OFF because I didn't view you as a failure at all. You have a heart for the LORD! We all get weak in the knees at different times and different situations BUT...thanks be to GOD that you have a willing heart to bless others in His Name and for His glory!

Yes, I prayed for the empty chaired person but I also prayed for the man in the wheel chair, etc. and for you. I also prayed that someone saw you put the gifts onto that chair and that it sparked an interest in them to know JESUS!!

Powerful and tender message!