When surprises turn to blessings

By: By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Are you a slave to everyone? Please do not be offended; Paul implores us to be just that in 1 Corinthians 9: 19! “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more (for Christ).” In other words, God gives us opportunities to love and give help and hope to His children, even when they do not look like us, praise like us, dress like us, worship like us, believe like us, are not strong like us, healthy like us, or live like us! This story stirred while praising God for being ‘locked out’ at The Learning Station and Tim’s Gift recently, praying for people in Hurricane Irma’s path, preparing for The Hope Project Golf Tournament, and sharing God’s Word with WMU women at Grove Park Church.

Paul’s plea for people to share humility, empathy, and love should get everyone’s attention ‘for such a time as this’! He recognizes our freedom from all people but encourages becoming a slave to them. Paul, being an elaborator, could have added: prune hearts, homes, schools, governments, and businesses of boundaries that imprison with offense, fakeness, hatred, disrespect, deceit, bigotry, and sinful acts of vengeance toward God’s children -red and yellow, black and white! The scriptures show each of us the importance of living and loving like Jesus taught by example. It is possible for people to pull together and put aside petty differences (while standing on His promises and not swaying ‘to and fro’) while witnessing the Hand of Christ putting pieces together that confirm His Word and way will prevail in His children’s lives.

In an upcoming story I will share the unexpected joy of being ‘locked out’ when God humbled and helped me slow down to experience blessings right under my nose. Being locked out of The Learning Station and Tim’s Gift left me outside for over one hour waiting to be rescued by my sweet son. After pulling weeds, picking up trash, watering flowers, and being led to the cross, I waited on the bench suppressing ‘Martha minded’ madness. With our fast paced lifestyles, we do not wait well! Facing the Little Free Library (Hunter Bruce’s Eagle Scout Project), the stirring inside grew stronger, ‘you tell people to take a book and be blessed…what about you? Do what you ask others to do’! It hit me just how often we do not practice what we preach, so I opened the door of the library and searched through the books while remembering the ceremony when Hunter’s family and fellow scouts placed books inside the wooden box designed and built in love by Hunter’s dad, step dad, and scouting buddies. His Papa Freddie and Grandma Bonnie were there on a building day, and by God’s grace and a miracle of healing from a stroke, they witnessed the ceremony eight months later. As I pulled my book “Knowing God Intimately” by Joyce Myer from the library, I could see Mr. Bogue in his wheelchair putting his book inside the little library while onlookers wiped tears of joy for celebrated a miracle among us!

Sitting in the sun, I opened the book and began reading. With three chapters behind me, the hunger pains ceased as did any anxiety of being locked out. Soaking up the truths I have been taught since a child and often take for granted stirred revival in my heart. Words like, ‘God’s original plan to walk with us like a friend as He did with Adam can happen when we observe God’s passionate pursuit to remain close to us. Because of Christ’s blood sacrifice, we no longer have to hide behind the veil…we can enjoy intimate fellowship with God.’

Reading Matthew 23 gripped my heart as Jesus corrected a lot of religious people. He told them they were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean on the inside. Could that be people we see…could it be you and me? Just before Cameron came, I read a page that prompted me to rise up where I was and proclaim my love for Jesus. Cars whizzed by, sun blinded my reading, and joyful praise rang out with no fear of who might hear, as did an inner stirring of emergency for our nation to reverently fear and intimately know God. Oh that all His children would see the light and intimately embrace Ephesians 3:17 “May Christ through your faith (actually) dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!” With Christ at home in our hearts, we, the people of the United States of America, could see America become Great again with God as our cornerstone, prayer in our schools, and people uniting in Christian love without borders and boundaries.

While writing this story, I turned on my television to check Irma’s path. The very words I had written moments before played out before me. Long lines of people waited hours for generators in a south Florida home improvement store. Panic set in when the last generator and cases of water were given out leaving hundreds of people crying out in despair. A television crew captured the simple message Jesus lived by example and longs for each of His children in every corner of the world to embrace, “…come to Me and I will give you living water. Live closely connected to the Vine (Me) with hope, faith, and love abiding in your hearts. Treat other people the way you would have them treat you. Above all things, your duty is to LOVE”

The young Hispanic man who received the last generator waited in line to pay, people scrambled in disbelief of what they were dealing with, and one old woman sobbed pitifully as news reporters bombarded her with question one knows not how to answer in such a time of desperation. Bent over from old age and heartbreak, she leaned on her shopping cart and shared her family’s heartbreaking story. The reporter stood in awe as the woman with wrinkles wept. In the background, the Hispanic man waiting to pay for his generator worth more than gold to those in need, pushed his cart toward the woman and gave his best.

I watched while thinking of the widow who gave her two mites and got God’s attention. The stranger hoisted the heavy generator in his arms and placed it in the old woman’s cart. She broke out in thankful praise; he humbly obliged with gestures that showed his act of kindness was heartfelt. With America watching and reporters silenced by the action of love, the old Caucasian woman and young Hispanic man failed to communicate in words for they spoke different languages. Tears wet my computer as I watched God’s Word witness to people of all races and languages ironically through a news report on weary people. A song Cameron, Clint, and I sang in churches when they were little came to mind, “Love in any language – straight from the heart – brings us all together – never apart…”

The cameras kept rolling, the woman kept tearfully thanking, and the Good Samaritan kept shyly smiling while God gave us all a wink of love…and of warning. I wondered if that small news clip that carries a big message of love and unity would be shown continuously on every channel as are those filled with hatred and division delivering a message void of God’s greatest commandment!? God’s message will prevail for He is still in control and when His children of all color and kind love, honor, respect, and enjoy intimate friendships with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… we will witness miracles abound and blessings abundant as we wait for Him to call us Home!

Ending this story is hard to do for my heart overflows with thanksgiving and praise to God, our safe harbor in storms that hit us by surprise or linger for seasons. He turned my locked out burden into a blessing that took me to the cross and taught me just how precious it is to trust, obey, love, and know God intimately!

As I conclude, Hurricane Irma just made landfall on America…one (endangered) nation under God (who longs to remain our cornerstone) with liberty and justice for all (even those who mock Him and miserably look for love in all the wrong places). I watch with wonder as some people blame recent storms on political people, others on the way Texans voted, even some on Christians – while cartoons mocking God and making fun of Christian acts of survival and bonding in love by people hit by Harvey prevail on primetime. God watches too… from a place we long to go when our work here is done and from every heart of believers who know Him intimately. Surely, the state of affairs in America makes God sad; yet, there is a remnant standing on the promises of Christ our King and letting praises ring! So, let us be as slaves to everyone so that we can win more people to Jesus Christ … ‘for such a time as this’ when God is bombarding us with winks of Love and warnings! Ready or not…He is coming soon!


By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.