Have you found treasures in God’s perfect timing that impacted your life? Recently, I pulled The Search for God’s Own Heart from my bookshelf that opened to a chapter about hearts being molded by hardship, and I began reading.
“David’s motly crey had enough faith to follow David into tough battles and tough situations. Together, they all found it true – God molds hearts in the dirt, in the tough places. Hardship has a wonderful purpose in life, and hardship helped mold David into a wonderful leader. More than likely someone reading these words is relating to David in his cave, being hunted and hated, wondering what God could possibly do with the mess of a life he or she has woken up with today. Could it be that the tough place you are in today is to prepare you for a victory tomorrow? Could a setback really be a training time, a preparation time? What an unusual thought. Perhaps the tough times in life are a great gift.”
Noting my personal remarks and earmarked pages, I remembered reading the book shortly after Tim passed away. Flipping through the pages, I found an old card and wondered who it was from. The message from the card maker got my attention. “God Has Not Only Read Your Story, He Wrote It.” Max Lucado.
Reading the neatly written message on the other side of the card stirred my heart to write this story.
May 2, 2007 “Dear Becky, First of all, I want to tell you I’m so sorry about your husband, but I know you have many precious memories to help you through these lonely times. I’m always telling my children, “make lots of memories, no one can take them away…” I know your faith in God will be priceless to you in the days ahead – He truly is our Greatest Comforter…thro’ the arms of His people. My sister introduced me to you thro’ your writings – she sends me clippings of your column, and I have enjoyed and been blessed y them so much. I live near Raleigh and am a full-time caregiver for my husband who had a stroke seen years ago. Your writings that she sent has encouraged me so much, and I’m sure they have others. I’m sure you’ll have some really good ones in your ‘new experiences’ to share when your heart is ready. Keep Writing — Don’t Stop! A friend that cares, Jean Williams
P.S. ‘sister’s name is Brenda Blackmon’
Hopefully, Jean’s message touched your heart as it did mine for the second time. Thanking God for leading me to the book that held the treasure, I pondered on the power of her words. Jean’s divine truths reminded me to make lots of memories, God is our greatest comforter, she is encouraged by my writings, and she is a friend I’ve never met who cares about me. God’s perfect timing was at work, when she implored me to Keep Writing! I whispered a thank you to my friend, Brenda, for sending my stories to her sister whose encouragement helped me write through a suffering season. During a span of five months, my husband passed away, I battled colon cancer, skin cancer, and attacks from the enemy hoping to steal, kill, and destroy my health and happiness. Reading Jean’s card the second time sent waves of appreciation and inspiration to write Jean a letter.
Without delay, I began penning a message of hope for her husband and appreciation for her willingness to write a message with greater meaning for me than she could have realized. A surge of joy rose inside while writing Jean’s name and address on the outside of the card.
The card stayed in my pocketbook for three days waiting for me to remember to mail it. Anyone with me here? Staying late at Tim’s Gift the fourth day, meant I was late for Bible Study. Rushing to First Methodist, I walked in the packed room where girlfriends of all ages and firm faith were in the middle of prayer requests. I scanned the room for a seat; (no coincidence) it was beside Jean’s sister, Brenda! I could hardly wait for transition time so I could tell Brenda about my treasure. When fellowship time came, I told Brenda the whole story of finding Jean’s card and how her kind message encouraged me. Then, I searched for Jean’s card in my purse with joy that did not resonate on Brenda’s face. Tears welled in her eyes as she struggled for words.
Finally, Brenda said, “Becky, Jean cared for her husband faithfully until he passed away in 2010.” After a long pause she told me Jean passed away in 2012 and shared a tearful testimony of the faithful Christian woman she was and how much she missed her sweet sister. The sting of death often recurs without warning!
When I shared how I planned to mail Jean’s card but forgot for three days, Brenda and I agreed there was a Higher Hand holding it in place until we talked. Brenda hesitantly asked if she could have the letter I wrote to her sister. I embraced the sister left behind and said, ‘Oh yes you can dear friend’!
Giving the letter to Brenda was a divine delivery with a lasting lesson. “God has not only read our stories…He wrote them”! In submission to the One who made me and got my attention with a post card mailed to me more than a decade ago, I kneeled to thank Him for my story and ask forgiveness for chapters when I tried to rewrite the storyline that was sealed by His Holy Spirit but contingent on my free will to choose Christ’s calling or do it my way. Lyrics of a sweet song resonated in my soul – ‘I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, just to take Him at His Word’…(then I belted out my own ending to that old hymn) Thank You God for writing our stories and saving us by giving The Greatest Love Story ever heard!
Jean’s card was found and read again eleven years after she wrote it. In God’s perfect timing, I responded and God took care of the rest of that sweet story. In retrospect, I asked forgiveness for not replying to Jean before she was called Home to Heaven. Then, I remembered the lesson learned on the front of Jean’s card…God wrote those chapters of my story; it was Jean’s sister who was supposed to receive her letter. We may not understand why things happen as they do in our stories, but we must stay true to our calling to Christ and remember Jean’s words…”Don’t Stop – Keep Writing”!
I encourage you to keep writing a beautiful love story, even when chapters of suffering or sorrow seem to be never ending. There are more sweet chapters of sunshine to come; stay connected and learn to trust Him while waiting on His perfect timing to see the wonderful writing He has done.
I stopped to reflect and thanked God for the treasure meant for me to find in my book, The Search for God’s Own Heart! Then, I asked Jesus to find Jean and tell her ‘thank you’ for blessing my own heart!
Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift ministry.