Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Sunday was an odd kind of day. I had my own plans and I was determined to carry them through—I was going to stay home from church, fix a birthday lunch for my son-in-law, piddle and putter, all at a leisurely pace. The storm was coming. We had been warned of treacherously low temperatures, high winds and snow accumulation. In the middle of my piddling and puttering I was going to brave the grocery store lines and get goodies (notice I didn’t say necessities) for my family.

But God had other plans.

I have been telling him for a long time that I prefer his plans over mine. I want them implemented in my life. I want to be obedient to whatever he asks. Period. Well, let me tell you our God takes people at their word. I had my little plans all mapped and nicely arranged and then I got a text. This new-fangled way of communication is a little inconvenient at times. My minister texted to let me know about a couple of situations at church that morning. Hard situations. Tight places that people were going to have to squeeze into and share. He wanted to make sure I would pray and come love on some people.

The tightly tied knots I created in my morning plans began to loosen. I began to pray. I didn’t need to. Now, let me explain that. I (we) always need to pray, but there are times we already know the answers. We know deep in the center of us what God’s word says and what his Holy Spirit is prompting us to do. Sometimes we use the I’m going to pray about it card to stall. Yes, we do. If we say we’re going to pray then it sounds spiritual. It sounds like we are seeking the will of the Lord. And isn’t that what all good Christians should seek? Yes, it is. However, as soon as I finished reading the text I knew what the Holy Spirit was saying to me.

Remember how often Jesus attempted to disappear for some much needed rest or leisure time (yes, I believe he did have some of this at times.) and the crowds would find him, people would follow him? And what did Jesus do? He set aside his plans and turned and ministered to the people. Now, who am I to think that if it is God’s desire for me to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that it would be any different for me?

But it was my choice whether I set aside my will or not. The Father will not make, coerce or manipulate me to do so. I had a choice Sunday morning. I could stay or I could go. I did not need to pray for direction though. It had already been given to me.

I went.

And God and I had a running dialogue the entire time. I stood at the church’s entry along with Dave, our minister (husband of Amy), and greeted several people. One woman came through the doors with her parents and children. I wrapped my arms around her. The Spirit whispered, this is why you are here. Love on this sweet woman. Love her in and because of me. Just wrap your arms around her and hold her tight.

This beautiful woman is wounded. Something dear to her has been broken and betrayed. In a place that is supposed to be sacred and holy, in a place that is supposed to be safe and protected, in a place that is supposed to be a joy and pleasure trust has been decimated. Destroyed. And she is left walking around with shrapnel in her spirit. And she is trying to find a place of refuge, a place where the center of gravity is low to the ground, a place where she can breathe.

Certainly I was not the only person who could have hugged her. Who could have prayed for her. No. But I received the blessings of that privilege. I witnessed the Spirit of God transform her during the service. In the seventy-five minutes of what we call church I saw the Spirit of God move.

And I almost missed it.

Not necessarily because I was going to do something wrong. Not because I had made incredibly selfish plans. No, because I almost didn’t allow God’s plans to be mine.

During that church time I experienced one of the sweetest times in the Presence of the Lord I have had in a very long time.

The beautiful wounded woman sat not far from me. And I watched as our sweet God erased fear from this woman’s face. I saw her body language move from being tight and closed and defensive to being open and secure.

One of the reasons?

Two young women sang. Two sweet girls stood in front of our Body with no instruments, with no background or accompaniment cds. With only their voices they sang a song we needed to hear. Their pure voices rang in the sanctuary, fit perfectly together in harmony, fit wonderfully together with conviction. They were so nervous. Their little hands shook. But they sang anyway. Their voices grew bolder as they sang. And I know the smile on my face was so big they probably could only see a sea of teeth from where they stood—I looked over at my daughter and the same grin creased her face (she prays for these young girls a lot). 

Jessica Neal and Alyssa Wade--what voices! What wonder!

And then I looked at my beautiful friend. She wiped tears away, but gone was the crushing fear. Gone was the constricting angst. Gone was the riveting anxiety. Even if only briefly. In the moment it was gone. 

When these young girls finished. I shouted. How could I not?

I witnessed the hand of God move. I saw his Spirit transform. I beheld his glory.

At the end of the service our praise team led us in the very same song the young girls sang. Whether this was planned in advance I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. We sang the words.  

I knew my friend had found an anthem.  In her brokenness, in her woundedness she found peace because the Spirit reminded her Jesus is the cornerstone. And through the storms he will not be moved. He is an anchor that cannot be shifted.  

I close my eyes and hear the sweet girls’ voices echoing this truth in my spirit. I can still see the wash of peace He poured out on my friend.

Thank God for rearranged plans. Thank God that he cares for the wounded. Thank God that He speaks through the voices of young girls with shaky hands.

Christ alone.




My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Savior’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.


Maureen Iles said...

Thank you for sharing this - and thank God that you listened and were prepared to forego your plans for His plans!!

Maureen Iles said...

Thank you for sharing this - and thank God that you listened and were prepared to forego your plans for His plans!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful piece-and no, they did not plan the songs with the worship leader. In fact, they almost didn't sing because they were afraid it would interfere with the invitation song. Again, God's plan overruled! Love you. Sara

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