I was thinking today about how God uses us, even when we don't realize it. I am repeatedly amazed at God's visible Hand in my life when I obey him. I recently finished the book "Something More" by Catherine Marshall. She ends chapter 5, which is entitled "The Joy of Obedience", with this statement: "Always and always the understanding comes after the obedience."
How true is that?! How often in our lives are we confused and flustered over something we don't really understand, but that we have to do, for one reason or another? But once we do it, and look back on it, it suddenly all makes sense. Trials are no fun, that's for sure. We must remember, however, that God is refining us. We must trust His guidance.
And what about those times when you think you should do something, but you aren't sure if it is from God or not. I'm sure many of you have gotten this forwarded email story called "Buy the Milk", author unknown. It is a beautiful story, worth reading again:
A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had spoken about "listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice."
The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?" After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray,"God, if you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey."
As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God is that you?" He didn't get a reply, so he started on toward home. But again, the thought came to him... buy a gallon of milk.
The young man thought about Samuel, and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. So, he stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started toward home.
As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street." This is crazy, he thought, and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will".
He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark, like people were already in bed.
Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid."
Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door and said, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but, if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."
He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?"
Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.
The man asked, "What is it?"
The young man thrust out the gallon of milk and said, "Here, I brought this to you," he said.
The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face.
The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk."
His wife in the kitchen yelled out,"I ask him to send an angel with some. Are you an Angel?"
The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put it in the man's hand. Then he turned and walked back toward his car and tears were streaming down his face. He knew then that God does still speak to people... and answer prayers.
This story chokes me up every time I read it. But I know what you are thinking. It's just a fictional story someone made up to solicit an emotional response from people, right? Probably. But I know for sure that God does use us to bless other people. I have seen it in my own life. A friend of mine has often told me that my obedience in helping to start a MOPS group saved her from complete insanity when her children were little. I didn't really want to start the group. But God told me to and I obeyed. Through that many, many very close friendships were formed...friendships that truly were the "sane" force for us young moms.
I experienced this once again just this week. Through this blog, in fact. Prior to a few months ago, I had never even heard of Reece's Rainbow. I came across them by accident, it would seem (I now know otherwise)...all because of a forwarded post on Facebook. I was touched and blessed in tremendous ways through another blogger's obedience to God's call. She inspired me to start my own blog...to do something to help these children who deserve loving homes, not institutions. And after months of thinking about these children non-stop and praying about it, I did something. I started this blog in an effort to help these children. Little did I know that my obedience would in-turn touch someone else.
A friend of mine from college contacted me yesterday after she read my blog. It seems her family is planning to adopt and they have been considering Reece's Rainbow. I know this doesn't seem like much...but, to me it was a lot. A connection. A note from God saying, "Yes. You are on the right path." That's what I got from it. I had no idea that someone I knew was praying about that decision. Maybe that was a nudge from God for her as well, I don't know. What I do know is that when we obey God, His blessings are poured out on many.
C.S. Lewis, speaking of man, says it so wonderfully in "The Screwtape Letters":