Chapter10_LESSONS
Chapter Ten
 
"Lessons"  

(By: Mary E. Adams)

Often, we can assume we might have earned a certain position with God...that we can rest upon what we might have accomplished and comfortably take a little "vacation."  It has been my experience that God usually chooses such times to work on us.  On one such occasion I was taught an important lesson. 

 
Having worked with a famous preacher in the ministry for several years, I was shocked to learn he had suddenly passed away.  At that time we were living in Georgia and I decided to drive to Texas for the funeral.  When I arrived, the church was packed...there was standing room only at the back of the large auditorium.  At the front...onstage, large bleachers had been erected for visiting dignitaries.  There must have been several thousand people attending.  I had resigned myself to having to stand the entire service, but suddenly one of the ushers recognized me and said, "Sister Adams! you must come with me...there is a seat onstage in the bleachers."  "No, brother, I am just fine here. Thank you anyway" I replied.  But he was insistent.  "But you were an important part of his ministry...you MUST come and sit up with the others" he argued.  Just then I thought of a certain scripture:
                
"When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room."  (Luke 14:8-9)
              
I wondered if that might also apply to funerals.  "Thank you, sir, but I am just fine here" I again said to the usher.  But he would not relent, and kept up his insistence.  Finally, weary of his talk, I followed him up to the front of the auditorium.   But there was a nagging in my spirit...I could not get that scripture out of my mind!  Somehow, I KNEW what was about to happen! yet I had given into this finely-laid trap! 
 
Slowly, we wove our way through the crowd...I felt so terrible! and as I looked, the only empty seat was ON THE TOP OF THE BLEACHERS!  Right in the most exposed spot on stage!   When I finally was seated, there was not a more miserable soul in the entire auditorium...how I wished I had not given into that man!  I knew that within a few moments, he would be returning...to help me down off the bleachers so a "more important" dignitary could be seated.  And you know what...THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED!!  I can still feel the shame and embarrassment Jesus talked about!  I know today that I never want that to happen again...and thank God for the lesson, however painful it was! 
 
~~~
 
Just as we parents are required to teach our children obedience, God goes to great lengths to cause us to learn the lessons that will both correct and perfect us.  In another instance, God powerfully taught me about criticism. 
 
Sometimes it is so easy to judge others, to look for "motes" in the eyes of others and neglect to see the beams in our own.  Bob and I went out to a restaurant to eat one night...but the place was very crowded and we could only find a table at the rear of the room in a little corner. As we passed the other tables, I noticed a man and a woman almost entwined with one another.  How embarrassing!  Right in public!  I was horrified to see such a display...did they not have any shame at all?  All during the meal I would glance over to them...there they were, necking for everyone to see!  I thought to myself, what is this world coming to when people act that way!   Bob said nothing, but I could not even enjoy the meal thinking about it.  Finally, we finished and Bob went to pay the cashier.  As I stood waiting for him, I looked again.  But this time I was in for the shock of my life!  The woman was nothing but a torso...she had no arms nor legs.  He had had to hold her in his arms and let her head rest on his shoulder as he spoon-fed her. 
 
How horrified I was...at my judgmental eyes!  This man was not ashamed to take his beloved into a public restaurant and care for her like that!  I had never seen such a display of love any greater than that man did that day.  And how I never to this day have forgotten a lesson well-learned!
 
~~~

Do you remember the story about Moses...how God had told him to speak to a certain rock...but he chose to strike it with his rod?  He did not obey God explicitly, and lost his chance to enter into the Promised Land with the rest of the people.   A difficult lesson, indeed, yet I had to learn it myself.  That God requires obedience...to the letter!  And that if I would act upon His Word, I would see great miracles.
 
It so happened that while we were in Georgia, I was ministering at a small church in a revival.  One night I preached on 2 Chronicles 20, about the story of Kind Jehoshaphat; how he had cried out to God in distress over the advancing armies of Moab and Ammon.  God had given him explicit instructions as to what he was to do, mainly centering around praise; for when they began to praise God, the Lord "the Lord set ambushments against the Moabites and the Ammonites...and they were smitten." So I admonished the people there at that meeting, that no matter their situation they should praise God at all times.  I urged them that when they began to think about their problems in the next 24 hours, to began to do as Jehoshaphat had done.
 
The next evening, a woman stood up to testify.  She said she had listened to that message and every time she thought about her situation, she had begun to praise God.  "You don't know my problem" she said. "My husband is in prison. When I married him, he did not bother to tell me he was an escaped convict. We have been together for 3 years and started to buy a house. Whenever he filled out the papers, they investigated him and found out he was a criminal and re-arrested him. Now he is in jail with added time.  I have children and no money...but by faith I have obeyed and praised God anyhow...I feel so much better" she added.  Everyone clapped their hands after she spoke, and I could see her sincerity and was greatly moved by her willingness to praise God in spite of her circumstances.
 
About two weeks later, I was visiting her parents in their little storefront mission where they gave out clothing and other items to the poor.  As we were talking, suddenly that girl walked in.  When she saw me, she began to cry.  "Oh, Sister Adams...I have really tried...I really tried to praise God, but I just can't keep on..." she exclaimed.   I knew what she was talking about.  It is difficult to hold onto faith sometimes.  I hugged her, but inside I was asking God, "What shall I do, Lord?  What can I say to her?"  She was a bundle of sobs. "Tell her that her husband will be out of jail in two weeks.  A little bald-headed man will come into the prison with a piece of paper that will allow him to be free...he will not have to serve his sentence."   When I heard THAT...I was shocked!   Could that possibly be GOD speaking?  Or was it ME?  I was so scared...what if I told her that, AND NOTHING HAPPENED?  I would be finished as a minister of God!   I was so afraid. But I decided to just say it as God spoke it...and I did.  Everyone looked at me with shocked surprise, but I could hardly wait to leave that  place.
 
Two weeks went by...a miserable time for me.  How I wanted to serve God...how I wanted Him to perform miracles and do great wonders.  But had I overstepped?  had I presumed too much?   Yet I knew the importance of instant obedience...and I had done as God spoke to me.  Now I was about to start another meeting in a different church and was standing behind the pulpit talking with the pastor, when suddenly the back doors flung open and about 15 people began to flood into the room. They were running and leaping and praising God.  Then I saw that woman and her father. They came up to the pulpit and he spoke. "Sister Adams, you remember what happened in our store a couple of weeks ago...how God told you my daughter's husband was going to be released from prison?  Well...we just got the call today.  A little bald-headed man came into the prison with an official paper that says he must be released and will not have to serve any more time.  He is coming home tomorrow!!"  There was such yelling and delightful screaming as those people began to rejoice...and I was literally dumfounded. 
 
I learned later that obedience had everything to do with this miracle...as that woman obeyed and began to praise God over her situation, something happened with her husband in prison.  He came under such conviction at what he had done, he knelt in his prison floor and repented to God.  He was gloriously forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit.  When the prison guards came to his cell, they found him praising God, and began to think he might have lost his mind or something. 
 
Who was the bald-headed man?  To this day, we do not know...perhaps an angel of God.  But God looked at her obedience and mine, and produced a miracle no one will soon forget....
 
~~~
 
Another lesson involved a trip I made with several lady friends from Texas to Colorado.  We were traveling in two separate cars, as I would be driving on to another destination later.  We agreed that the first leg was to be from Dallas to Raton Pass, New Mexico.  Raton Pass had plenty of motels, so we could get a good rest there.  And so we drove all day.  But in the late evening as we pulled into the town we discovered Raton Pass was having a rodeo and all the motel rooms had been taken.  There was no place to stay, and we were forced to drive on.  After a brief discussion, we ate a meal and then I said to the other women, "We should pray and ask God to find us a place to stay the night for I am very tired...we all are."  Everyone bowed their heads and we agreed in prayer for a couple of motel rooms.  Then we continued driving.  
 
We had not gone but about two miles when we saw a lovely motel...with a neon sign that said "Vacancy".  How we rejoiced!  God had answered our prayer so instantaneously!  We pulled into the place and just as I opened the car door, an AWFUL smell filled the air.  I looked across the road to see a CATTLE YARD!  "How horrible!" the women cried. "We cannot stay here!  That smell would not let us sleep!"  "But we prayed...and God has showed us this nice motel" I argued.  Nevertheless, none of the other women would agree to taking the rooms that were available.  "Let's go on down the road...there will be other places" they exclaimed.  Somehow, in my spirit, I knew what was about to happen...since we had refused these rooms, we would not find another motel until we drove all night to Colorado!  I just knew it, and warned them so.  But I was outvoted...and that is exactly what happened. We drove all night and never saw another motel...until the next morning when we crossed the line into Colorado.  We took the first one available, and it was a dump, but we didn't care...we were so tired. 
 
As we got ready for bed, we prayed aloud, thanking God for the rooms and asking His forgiveness for our refusal to take the other motel.  Then, by the Spirit, He spoke to us.  "You prayed, and I answered and gave you a nice place to rest for the night.  But you forgot one important thing.  If  you had also asked me, I would have shifted the wind and blown the odor from the stockyard in another direction."  
 
We looked at one another...stunned!
 
Mary E. Adams

Please click here for Chapter 11


NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: If you are questioning in your heart what this Christian life is all about and would like to know more about being reconciled to God, please click here to learn how you can do that.  Thank you and God bless you!



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