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."
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
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
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!
here for Chapter 11
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
to learn how you can do that. Thank you and God bless