What I’m going to share with you here isn’t directly related to today’s The Upper Room devotional, but I think you, like me, will agree that it will qualify as a “blessing,” and one I indeed recorded in my “blessing book.”
For some context, decades ago I worked in a support position at the headquarters of a national prison ministry in the Washington, D.C., area. After seven years there, I was offered the opportunity to move back to my home state of Wisconsin to become the State Director—a huge increase in responsibilities, the thought of which, frankly, frightened me. At that time, the Lord used Joshua 1:9 to confirm to me that with his help, I could do it: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV). I had a wonderful peace about it after that, and God proved faithfulness time after time through my 23 years in that position.
Now retired, I often thank God for many meaningful things to do and the health and strength to do them. One volunteer activity I’ve enjoyed is working several hours a month at my church’s food pantry, a ministry that has expanded during the pandemic. Recently the director of the pantry moved from the area, and another director was sought. I was humbled when Pastor Mike, who gives pastoral oversight to the outreach, asked me if I’d consider taking it on. I told him I would pray about it get back to him with my decision by Friday of that week. While I enjoyed my limited involvement in the pantry, there were many aspects with which I was totally unfamiliar, and I was unsure if I was the best person for the job.
Friday came, and I still had no clear leading. I told the Lord that it was my inclination to take on the position, and that if he didn’t want me to, I asked that he would clearly let me know in the next few hours, in time to let Pastor Mike know that day. As I do each day, after prayer I read that day’s The Upper Room devotional. That meditation, for Friday, December 11th, was based on Joshua 1:9, its message a direct answer to my prayer! Now, I'm not one to see God's direct guidance in a lot of things (generally, I don't trust my own discernment as to what might be meaningful indications), but this seemed too much of a “coincidence” for even me to talk myself out of! I emailed Pastor Mike to let him know I would take the position, convinced that the Lord would, once again, be with me in this new endeavor.
I have to laugh at myself when I am surprised at how quickly and—shall I say blatantly?—God occasionally answers my prayers. Often I have to move ahead with a decision after praying, trusting that he will stop or redirect me if I have misunderstood his will, and he is faithful to do that as well. But every once in a while, he chooses to answer in a way that, frankly, makes me smile. Another item for the blessing book!
You can read more of Lisa’s writing here: https://needencouragement.com/lisa-stackpole/.
Our resolve must be different. My prayer is that we have finally reached a tipping point. My hope is that when the protests fade and the marches slow that our will as a church to truly eradicate the scourge of racism won’t dissipate but grows even stronger.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.