This past weekend I spoke at a state homeschool convention in Rochester, New York, giving four workshops to parents who teach or who are considering teaching their children at home. In addition to that, I gave a short talk to homeschool leaders at the hotel the night before the convention started. I went into the weekend low on human resources (having had to stay up the night before the trip because of some legal work I had a hard deadline on), and I knew I would be especially needy for God’s empowering strength to get through the weekend.
I love, but never cease to be surprised by how God does things so unconventionally in our lives. He seems to delight in letting us feel our need, just so that He can show Himself strong on our behalf. I have seen God prove Himself faithful so many times that I’m convinced He will never forsake His own, but I never know how He’s going to work things out. Never. That doesn’t change His trustworthiness, however. It just gives Him a LOT of room to surprise us.
“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” ~Psalm 9:10
At the conference, all four workshops were ones I’ve given before so I wasn’t too concerned about those, although one of my talks was one I hadn’t given for many years. So I was surprised when I realized that I should have brought a book I quote from in that talk but didn’t. “Okay, Lord, what do I do now?” I quietly prayed. Then an idea came to me. I’d given a copy of the same devotional book to my daughter Charity some months earlier. Perhaps she had brought her copy with her to the family’s home she was staying at for the weekend. Picking up the phone one hour before I had to give my workshop…
“Charity, remember that devotional book I gave you a while back that I just love?”
“Well, you didn’t happen to bring it with you this weekend, did you?”
“As a matter of fact, Mom, I did.”
“You did?” (Total incredulity in my voice)
Well, Charity very wonderfully dropped everything to type up not just one entry but two from that devotional book and emailed them to me so I’d have them for my talk, just in time.
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” ~Psalm 121:2
Probably the most challenging time for me last weekend was finalizing preparations for my first commencement address (I realize that in saying this, if anyone reading this blog was there at the graduation, well, now they know…yep, it was my first one!) The Lord gave me the title months ago, after I agreed to speak to the 130 homeschool graduates at the NY LEAH state convention; He just didn’t give me the full message until two hours before I needed to address the audience of about 1500 people. “Okay, Lord, I want to give them Your Word, Your heart. Guide me to know what to say. I ask that they be both challenged and encouraged. I desire that the gospel would go forth and that You would be much glorified.”
GOD’S SURPRISE ANSWER TO PRAYER
I had brought some books on the trip I’ve been reading through these past few months, thinking I might have a little free time to get some personal reading in. Nope. Not to be. What God did do, however, is lead me right to some passages in one of the books that perfectly fit in with the talk I was giving to these graduates and their families. Oh, how I love the wisdom and creativity of God! He helped me put together the PowerPoint slideshow in lickety-split time (another miracle in itself!) with 30 minutes to spare before the graduation started.
“Great,” I thought. “Now all I have to do is print out my notes and I’m good to go.” Then came the eternally-long wait on the 17th floor of the hotel for the elevator to take me down. “Okay, too many flights of stairs to walk down; gotta wait for the elevator.” Five minutes later the elevator finally came (it had never taken this long all weekend!) and as it descended, I reasoned to myself, “I still have enough time to get to the auditorium right when I need to be there; just need to quick print out those notes.”
Once in the lobby of the hotel, next came the realization that I didn’t have my thumb drive to transfer my notes to so the hotel could print them out. “Can you please help me? I have to give a graduation address in 20 minutes and really need my notes but they’re stuck here on my laptop” (showing them my screen with the file open). They must have thought I was crazy! Even still, the very nice hotel staff put their heads together to come up with a way to get my notes from my laptop to their printer. “I know,” one of them said, “Why don’t you email your notes to me? Then I can print them out.”
Terrific! Why hadn’t I thought of that! Counting as the minutes kept ticking away waiting for the message to get sent, for the staff to pick it up, then print it out was like waiting for a runner, making his way around the track to hand the baton off to me (just a bit nerve wracking!)
“GO!” With notes in hand, and laptop still wide open (I didn’t have time to shut it down, then get it up and running again for the graduation ceremony), I walked as quickly as I could through halls, and up and down escalators until I finally arrived at the convention center 10 minutes before the graduation started.
I fear I almost gave my escort a heart attack wondering where I was just minutes before, but he still managed to smile at me and very quickly lead me into the auditorium. A man I came to nickname as “Magic John” had to speedily save my PowerPoint presentation to a thumb drive and transfer it to another handy laptop so it would project properly on the large side screens, but he seemed as calm and unhurried as could be, having the effect of helping me stay calm as well. “Lord, You may bring everything together at the very last possible moment, but Your timing is always perfect. Thank You, for Your mercies and faithful care, Father.”
“You did awesome things that we did not expect.” ~Isaiah 64:3
Yesterday morning, I read to John out of that devotional book which I love,* laughing as I thought about this past weekend. The entry is titled, “I Didn’t Expect This!” I hope you enjoy it.
A salesman returning home discovered he would reach Chicago too late to work in the office, so he decided to stop off at a small town to visit an old friend. Upon reaching his home, he found the house was locked up; neighbors said his friend had gone away for three weeks. What a disappointment!
The next train wasn’t scheduled for five hours, but he determined to make the best of it and walked into the countryside to pass the time. He soon met an old man in a field who was slowly turning hay, preparing it for the barn. After exchanging greetings, he began a conversation, but soon discovered that while the farmer was very courteous and kind, he kept at his work. Why not help him? he thought. So he grabbed a fork and side by side they worked and talked. By the time the hay was all raked up, it was time for him to return to the station. Extending his hand to say good-bye, he said his disappointment had been turned into genuine pleasure.
Grasping his hand, the farmer replied, “Let me tell you something before you go. This morning, mother and I talked about getting up this hay. I said that I was feeling so bad I feared I would be unable to accomplish the task; but mother encouraged me and assured me that the Lord would help me. At family prayers we both asked our heavenly Father for His help. I arose feeling refreshed and felt sure that in some way He would help—but,” he added, pressing the man’s hand tighter while a tear glistened in his eye, “I really did not expect the Lord to send a man from Chicago with kid gloves and patent leather shoes to help me do it!”
Isn’t that just like the Lord? I too, didn’t expect God to answer my prayers the way He did, but not for a single moment did He leave me or forsake me. He was at work, demonstrating His love and displaying His glory. In our weakness His power is made perfect. Soli Deo Gloria!
*The story above is taken from the book, How Great Thou
Art, A Daily Devotional, compiled by Steve Halliday and William Travis.