I don’t make New Years resolutions because I don’t like to break things. But as New Years Day loomed on the horizon I began to think about what God would have me accomplish in 2014. I have not written a Disciplers study since 2011 and I've had plenty of excuses for not doing so. Life is full of other demands and I have come to see that the saying about time flying by more quickly as you get older is absolutely true! But my biggest excuse to myself is that my two dearest prayer warriors and encouragers, my husband and my mom, have gone to be with the Lord.
I have found it difficult to do many things without them, but the hardest thing to do without them is write. I relied upon their prayers and their presence in my life. I felt I could do anything with their faithful prayer support. When they prayed, it was evident that God heard and answered. I wrote with joy and felt God's pleasure. I also knew I could count upon my husband and mom for honest criticism and helpful suggestions, not to mention the thoughtful small things like the gift of a new commentary, a secret Starbucks when I was immersed for hours in study, or dinner brought in. I know it is not good to dwell on what is past, but I must confess that I have had difficulty going forward. Often I have felt like one of those stiff-necked, grumbling Israelites in the wilderness and I have been ashamed.
Anyway, rolling over into 2014, the Holy Spirit began to impress upon me that it was time to stop making excuses and procrastinating. It was time to write again. I started out with hesitant obedience. But I have taken the first steps -- praying about which book of the Bible to choose, deciding and prayerfully reading the chosen books over and over and over again, researching which commentaries to use, and then finally beginning to study and then write. Little by little, an excitement has begun to arise within me. One of the commentaries I bought so engrossed me that I read until I fell asleep in the chair and then woke up with a “crook” in my neck (smile). God has been gracious to give encouragement and bring into my heart an eagerness to write. But I want to tell you about the biggest blessing He has sent my way.
Last week I had a phone call from a leader of a Disciplers class in Southern California. As we talked, I shared with her that I was beginning work on a new study. She promised to pray for me. I have been remembering that. I have been counting on her prayers. Then, today I received a handwritten note from her in the mail. Even before opening the card, I began to smile. The front of the note-card is a watercolor of wildflowers in glass jars. I love wildflowers! And they look so happy in the glass jars. It lifted my day. However, it was her words inside that touched my heart and humbled me and gave me assurance that God is there and He cares. Here are the words she wrote.
“I’m so glad you are writing a new study…..I will consider it a privilege to pray constantly for His wisdom, insight, and time for you to do this wonderful work. I shared with my leaders today that you are starting a new study and asked them to pray for you.”
Now here is the reason (or at least part of it) that this note was so special. Just before I went to the mailbox, I had been working on the outline for chapter one of 1 Thessalonians. As I prayed, read, and wrote, the thoughts seemed to flow from my heart and mind. It was a joy -- it was the old feeling back again of God working and using His broken vessel -- me. When I opened and read the card, I knew that what I had experienced had been an answer to prayer. The tears came -- thankful tears for faithful prayers, for God’s hearing those prayers and answering -- remembering me, the excuse maker and procrastinator.
The sweet card and note have been a lesson to me to be attentive and sensitive to the needs of others, to pray earnestly and regularly when I promise, and to let people know I am praying. How refreshing it was to receive a handwritten note in this digital age. Prayer and note writing come from being thoughtful and caring of others. They are small things that do not take much time but they can make a huge difference in a person’s life. They have in mine today.
At the moment, I can’t think of anything more wondrous than seeing the prayers of others answered in one's own life. Who can you give that gift to this week? What small thing would God lead you to do for someone else? I will begin with a handwritten note to the dear lady who wrote to me and who I know is praying for me.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.