Do you believe the Lord hears when we cry out to Him? I cried out while searching for the lost – last closet story for this week’s column. Believing it will be found, a sensing to write about being in awe of God, even when things do not go as planned seems exactly what God stirs, so here goes!
What happens at your house before church on Sunday mornings? Last Sunday, I was up at 6 a.m. enjoying coffee, cooking for a bereaved family, and talking to Jesus while making deviled eggs (no pun intended). Most of the eggs peeled easily and looked perfect while waiting to be deviled. Yet, there were five that refused to release their shells, except in tiny pieces that stuck to my hand like super glue and looked pitiful beside the pretty eggs. While stirring pickle juice, vinegar, and Dukes mayo into the yolks, He stirred a message. Carefully filling each empty egg with the yummy mixture, I noticed each egg looked lovely with no rough spots showing. The pretty and pitiful ones were joined together in ‘perfect harmony’ on my Special Celebration plate, a wedding gift from a good friend beating her battle with cancer. Go Denise!
That’s the way it is with God’s love for all His children – red or yellow, black or white – beautiful or blemished – rich or poor – simple or sensational – difficult or delightful! He fills us up and makes us beautiful in His sight when we keep our eyes on Him. Honoring God even when we feel burdened, trusting Jesus even when we feel outcast, and listening to HIs sweet Spirit soothing our hearts even when broken, smoothing rough spots and ordering our steps through turbulent times ensure a spot in His special celebration place when He is finished with us here. Covering my plate to protect my eggs with a sensational sealer, a gift from my next door neighbor I love dearly, the song I sang when Tim and I were married – “Seal Us Oh Holy Spirit” – popped in my mind. No matter what season or shape we are in… faithfully trusting, obeying, and believing brings a “sealing” from our heavenly Father that preserves us “through it all”!
Pulling a basket of sweet potatoes from my pantry, an awful scent took my breath away. With little time before Sunday School would begin, I sorted through the potatoes (given to me by my humble neighbor, G.W.) and sadly cast out all but seven. The rotten potatoes almost spoiled the whole bunch, even leaving behind sticky ‘yuk’ on my white floor and a terrible odor that reminded me how sin works in our lives. The faithful few potatoes were firm and spotless when I washed off the stains that could have ruined them if they had not been rescued. Those pretty potatoes were sinking in rot when I pulled them out and prepared them for a delicious meal. Another old song surfaced that seals this sweet potato parable. “I was sinking deep in sin…when love lifted me” God will lift us out of whatever is causing us to ‘rot’, clean us up, and make us a living testimony when we make the choice to let Jesus into our hearts and live connected to Him. God hears His children’s cries, rescues when we’re perishing, and proudly puts us in places where we can deliciously serve Him with gladness. Life is good when the Master Chef lives in our hearts.
Cleaning up the mess, writing in my prayer journal on my clean kitchen counter, and spending time recounting what He was teaching me, meant I missed Sunday School. The devil ceased the opportunity to taunt me for loving Jesus boldly and tried to keep me home. The rascal would love to see all churches empty of His people and Spirit, so we must stand up for Jesus and worship Him with joyful hearts. Dressing quickly, I vowed not to be late for preaching. With only a few minutes to spare, I pulled hot curlers from my hair while noticing my silver cross necklace, (a gift from James celebrating our first Christmas together) did not match my gold dress. Something said, ‘Go on to church’, but I felt compelled to change my necklace. Choosing the gold angel with ‘believe’ circling her wings, a precious gift from my sister, seemed perfect until hooking it was hopeless. My futile attempts stirred up frustration, which Satan surely enjoyed. The angel fell from the chain, my makeup case spilled on the vanity; yet, I kept trying to hook my necklace. Telling the enemy I would not lose my cool and would make it to church empowered me with words from Pastor Bill Jones ringing in my ears as I kept trying to secure my necklace…”Are you listening; are you sure you’re listening’? Still, I failed to hook my necklace. Finally, I tried my golden sailboat necklace, I bought after Tim passed away. On the second try, it was hooked with me rushing out the door for church. Driving to First Baptist, I thanked God for teaching and loving me and told the devil to flee all on a Sunday morning. I was listening and He was sweetly speaking as I stepped inside our beautiful chapel.
Entering quietly, I spotted one seat at the end of a pew. I sat down and breathed deeply as Pastor Ray prayed. You know the contentment when you finally make it somewhere you’ve been striving to get to and peace like a river flows through your body and soul. I was consumed with such joy that tears began to flow. With no purse and no tissues at the end of our pew, I wiped tears away with my hand and sang Blessed Assurance in unison with my church family. Then, the devil decided to taunt in tender places where hurt was still healing. First, my mind replayed years of sitting beside Tim on these very pews with reminders of him squeezing my hand during prayer and bending my little finger hoping I would say, ‘mercy’! Then, two years of sitting beside James surfaced, and I could almost feel his strong arm around me. Seeing his smiling face as we worshiped our Father who brought us together brought more tears. Relentless attempts to make me feel pitiful failed. In my mind, I screamed for Satan to leave me alone with truthful renditions of seasons past and present. “I treasure and miss the times we shared, but I am thankful for God’s healing and help and wherever He leads – I’ll go.” Lord, I am crying in the chapel and do not care who sees me wiping these sad – happy tears! I know You’ve got me, my children, my brothers and my sisters, and the whole world in Your Hands.
The tears trickled down my cheeks as Pastor Ray preached a sermon that made the hairs on my freckled arms stand at attention. The rest of my Sunday morning story (coming soon) is a testimony of God’s goodness and grace, of being in awe of the One who hears our cries and answers prayers, and thanking Jesus for our lot in life, even when things do not go as planned.
Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.