Do you believe obeying the Lord brings blessings? Shirley Hawley does. She attended the Rise Up, Recount Love Conference and followed the teaching in John 15:10, “If you obey my teaching, you will live in my love. In this way, I have obeyed my Father’s teaching and live in His love.” Obeying the Father and living in His love is a gift all of His children can enjoy. How sad that His gifts to us often go unopened. Shirley’s story of rising up will pull your heartstrings in tune and propel your faith to new heights.
Shirley and her husband traveled from Angier to attend the Tim’s Gift Christian Conference last February. During the Women’s Renewal Session, they laughed out loud and cried tears of joy. Their hearts were touched by the teachings about right relationships with God. The Holy Spirit tendered Shirley’s heart as she listened to my story about dragonflies.
I never planned to tell the story of dragonflies while teaching about keeping relationships right with family, and friends, and most importantly, yourself. While sharing how God uses ordinary people to deliver messages of hope and do extraordinary things in His name, the dragonfly story spewed from my heart.
God put the story in motion in 2007 when a faithful friend told me of a spiritual encounter that refreshed my faith and renewed my relationship with God. I shared how Ann Matthews obeyed God’s instructions and lives in His love. While helping her husband, Jimmy, on their farm in August of 2007, dragonflies hovered around Ann in the fields where they worked. For days, a blue and green dragonfly seemed to seek her out every time she went outside. One day, it perched on her leg and wouldn’t go away. In awe, she realized God was speaking to her heart to come to me and tell me I would be OK. She felt the presence of peace with a message downloaded that would not be delivered until six months later. The week before Christmas, she awoke with an alarm sounding in her spirit to seek me out and share the message. She obeyed and told me the story before the sun set that cold day. My heart was warmed when I confirmed the special significance of dragonflies in my life. Tim’s last words to me, before he lost his voice, were, “Baby, the boys will be OK. I love you” Ann brought the good news in a way I would know it was from heaven, from a Father who loves and cares about each of His children, red and yellow, black and white, we are all precious in His sight. I told the audience that God still speaks to His children today. When we listen and obey, we live in His love. Ann being chosen to bring that word to me was no coincidence. Her close connection to God and to Tim and me, opened the door for the Master to instruct. Through Ann’s listening heart and act of obedience, God strengthened my faith and saturated my heart with a peace that only He can give.
Shirley soaked up the story and dried her tears as the morning session ended and lunch was waiting to be enjoyed. Before the afternoon session started, Shirley decided to see what the vendors were selling. Her shopping spree took her to a vendor who traveled to the conference from Nashville, Tennessee. While he played flute music, Shirley bought items for family members. A dragonfly necklace caught her eye, and something inside said, ‘buy it’! She obeyed; God was working a miracle. She was intrigued with the music being played by Wakay and his unique gift items, but most of all by the sensation to purchase the necklace. She and her husband left his tent with lots of treasures. The dragonfly necklace was safe in her bag and about to become a blessing to one who is obedient to the Father and lives in His love.
Shirley stopped at the table where gift baskets begged people to buy tickets. She struck up a conversation with the lady selling raffle tickets who was wearing an apron with a pink ribbon. That emblem sends a message of hope to cancer survivors. Shirley started to walk away, but her heart stirred to go back to the lady and give her the dragonfly necklace. At first, Shirley felt foolish, for she didn’t even know this person. Then, she followed the gentle nudging in her heart and obeyed what God spoke. She pulled the necklace from the bag and said, “ I felt something tell me to give you this necklace.”
Ann gasped, “Oh my goodness, did Mrs. Becky tell the dragonfly story today”? Shirley was puzzled. Ann told her that she was the dragonfly lady. The two stood in awe, basking in the sweet spirit that settled in their hearts and soared in that place. Shirley told Ann how something spoke to her heart to buy the necklace and less than 10 minutes later that same voice nudged her to give the necklace to Ann, a total stranger. The two agreed, it was a kiss from God, a little miracle with a big message: God still speaks and seeks His children who will obey and live in His love.
Shirley’s story shows how one can rise up and do what is right and good. Being obedient to God’s gentle tugging at our heart strings is easy when we live in right relationship with Him. Shirley and her husband, Shelton, settled in the huge auditorium for the conclusion of the Women’s Renewal. His daughter, Loren Hawley, was set to deliver the message of living in love and obedience through a right relationship with God. Shirley could have stood and shared a testimony of how a right relationship comes when we trust and obey the Father and live in His love. That love and peace that comes from obedience are gifts that keep on giving. It is our decision to open His gifts and share them with others. Shirley didn’t have to think twice; she did exactly what the Master said and was blessed greater than the one who received her gift. That’s the way it is with God’s love; you’ll want to pass it on.
Ending Shirley’s story with a verse from Isaiah 32 shows that doing right when He speaks ensures endless peace and trust in our hearts. “The work of being right and good will give peace. From the right and good work will come quiet trust forever.”
God bless you Shirley. Your willingness to rise up in obedience to God encourages others to obey and live in His love with a quiet trust forever.