Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! (Genesis 28:16-17)
Have you ever walked out of a church service knowing today’s sermon had your name all over it? You should feel so honored that the God of the universe maneuvered everything to minister to your need. Does He do that as a regular thing? My experience says He does. Every day. God is at work.
What a mighty God we serve!
This is from my journal from May 3, 1999—
Every once in a while something happens that lets you know God is really active in what you are doing. Sunday a week ago, I preached about young people. I called it “the 5 cries of youth.” Today’s young people are crying to Belong, crying for Unconditional love, asking for Instruction, needing and will someday appreciate Limits, and finally, for Time. (Resulting in the acrostic B.U.I.L.T.)
Two solos were featured in the service–both by young women, one in her teens. And we had visitors in the service. Now, that’s not unusual. Often we’ll have folks who are in New Orleans temporarily and staying at a hotel near the airport and drop into our services. But on that day, we had 55 visitors–all teenagers (with a few adults) from two high schools in Wisconsin. They were part of two high school bands in some kind of competition at the University of New Orleans. That morning the leaders had asked, “Who wants to go to church?” and 55 (about half) had responded.
Most of the youths indicated they had never been in a Baptist church before. Since this was just after the Littleton, Colorado tragedy, I talked about it in the sermon. Later, the leader came up with tears in her eyes. She said, “Pastor, you have no idea how appropriate your message was for some of the kids in our group. Some of them are dealing with the very issues you touched on.” She gave me a hug.
As far as I know, the next time we all see each other will be in Heaven.
I can go for days on that kind of encouragement.
Squire Rushnell writes books, a series of them, and has a Facebook page under the title “God Winks.” Squire says these kinds of moments when the need of the moment is matched by an answer that was clearly so appropriate is God winking. I sent him the following one from 2011. He ended up calling the mother involved and featuring it in his reports.
After a Saturday wedding in Fayetteville, Georgia,, I was having breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express early Sunday morning before heading to North Alabama to see my 94-year-old mother. The only others in the breakfast room were a young mother and her small daughter. I began looking for something on which to sketch the child. Since all my stuff was packed in the car, I looked around for paper of some kind. The weekly Fayetteville Times or whatever it’s called was nearby, 8 pages of who-visited-whom and local-volunteer-fire-dept-gets-a-new truck.
I turned to a clear section of the paper, folded it, and said to the mother, “Ma’am? I’m a cartoonist. May I sketch your child for you?” She thought that would be all right. The little girl looked up and smiled. She was precious. As I drew her, I asked her to smile again, so I could get it just right. I signed the drawing “joemckeever.com” and handed it to them.
Then, I drove to Alabama to see my mother. For two days, we were snowed in, which was nice. And by the time I got home to New Orleans, I had an email from that mother.
‘Joe,’ she said, ‘I thought you’d be interested in knowing how the Lord used you last Sunday morning.’
Our house burned on New Year’s Eve. I mean in four minutes the entire house was ablaze. We lost everything. Now, my husband and I are in law enforcement and we know this is just stuff. But my little girl, Macie, age 5, whom you met, is a very sensitive child. And she lost everything in the fire–clothes, toys, dolls, pictures, school books, everything. And she had not smiled since the fire, 12 days ago.
Fifteen minutes earlier, while feeding our 3-month old son in the hotel room I was talking to God. ‘Lord, please put a smile on my child’s face. I just need to see her smile.’ And when you asked her to look at you, she smiled. And you asked her to smile again so you could get it just right.
I want to thank you. This is a little reminder to me that God answers even the simplest of prayers. Oh, and by the way….
On the other side of the newspaper where you drew my daughter is the article, ‘Family Loses Everything in New Year’s Eve Fire.
Wendy Moulder is a detective with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, she said. And a strong believer in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to do things great and small to those who need Him.
He is at work today. Look for Him. Expect to see His hand, not only in the flowers and sunsets, but also in your antagonist and your best friend, your lover and a child, the store clerk and a rank stranger. God may “come at you” from the side you least expect.
Bring your needs to Him. Ask.
Jesus said, “Your Father knows what things you need even before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). But ask anyway.