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Have you ever done a little act of kindness, and then hoped that God would use your little effort somehow?
I want to tell you a story today about how a kindness done for someone else had a ripple effect that had an impact on me personally in a very real way. I love this story, and hope it will bless you.
I have a trip coming up, a trip I am very excited about. I get to go to a big city, and do some fun big city things that a person stuck back in the Boonies hardly ever gets to do. I am looking forward to this trip with great anticipation, as you can imagine.
Because I am married to a self-employed musician, we have no regularly scheduled income, if you know what I mean. God sometimes blesses my dear husband, the Big Bison, with a lot of work, and sometimes, we go through long periods of drought. It very often is feast or famine around here. So I try to be conservative in my spending, and wise with the money that comes our way, realizing that I may have to make it last for a long time. There just are no guarantees.
It’s not the easiest way to live, but by God’s grace we’ve been able to make it work (I’ve been home with the kids) for 15 years. And I praise God that we have been able to do this. Because dh works out of our home, it has enabled us to have a very pleasant life style: the whole family is involved in each other’s daily existence, and we all view that as a very good thing.
But this very happy lifestyle didn’t exactly arrive in an easy fashion. There’s a back story that I want to share with you to give a shout out to God. I spent the first seven years of our marriage working for the local school district. I was making what for us was reasonably good money, and we were doing fine financially. My salary was what enabled us to buy our first house. But I worried about finances all the time. I really did. (That’s kind of ironic to me now, when I often think how nice it would be to know for sure we had X amount of dollars coming in each month for me to work with.) Anyway, one Sunday at church, the pastor asked, “Does anyone have a besetting issue that you know is filling your life with worry and stealing your joy and peace, and you would like prayer to be set free from this issue?”. Well, considering that the Holy Spirit had been nudging me all through the sermon that I was living in chains in regard to this financial worry, and needed prayer for deliverance, I popped up and went to the front for prayer. Which is not my usual m.o. I’m pretty much a background, don’t make any waves kind of church member. But I knew this was for me, so I asked for prayer to be set free from my slavery to worry in regard to finances.
Many times in our lives we have sin issues that are “our” besetting issues. We grapple with them for years, and maybe God has lessons for us all along the way because of them. They certainly help keep some of us humble. But every once in a while, God delivers us instantaneously and miraculously from addictions and sins.
When I went forward to pray that day, I still remember the sweet sister who came forward to pray for me. She didn’t know me from Adam, and still doesn’t. I’m sure she has no recollection of that Sunday that is burned in my memory. But I’ll never forget it. She prayed fervently over me, that I might be delivered from my worry and anxiety: from my unbelief and lack of trust in God. And then (and here comes the weird, but true part) she looked thoughtfully at me and said, “I believe God is going to bless you soon with a child, and I’d like to pray for you about that.” (Now, I had had two miscarriages prior to this, and I was totally ready for her to pray over me in regard to anything she wanted to pray for.) So, she prayed. And about 3 months later, when we had decided we were ready to try again to conceive a child, I became pregnant with our eldest son.
But the greatest part about this story was that after that Sunday, when I went up for prayer in regard to fear and anxiety over finances (and this with a dependable income), God totally did a miraculous work in my heart. I am no longer crippled by that fear. And I really NEEDED that work accomplished in my heart, because one year later, I lost that dependable salary by choice when I decided I wanted to stay home and raise my kids. And we began to live by faith on whatever work the Lord brought through the door for my dear husband. It is a really good thing to walk in relative freedom in that area. I don’t say that I never worry anymore about finances. During a couple of long drought-like seasons, it has been so tough to pray and pray, and feel that my prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. But what I DO say, is that I know before the chains that I was bound in, and those have fallen off. By the grace of God!
OK, so how does all this relate to the ripples from an act of kindness?
Well, yesterday I was at my weekly ladies group. We are studying Beth Moore’s “Stepping Up” which is a study of the Psalms of Ascent, for those of you who are just now tuning in. But another very important thing that we are doing, besides studying God’s Word, which is of the utmost importance, is that we are getting to know each other, and consequently, growing to love each other, and praying for each other. All good stuff to be doing. I highly recommend it.
So, not to steal her reward away from her by mentioning it out loud or anything, but my friend Judy showed up at the study with bags and bags and bags of beautiful women’s clothing. NICE labels. She had a friend, she said, who had a shopping addiction, (yea for us!!!) and who was having a hard time parting with some of her old stuff – she just wasn’t thrilled about the whole Goodwill concept, and Judy offered to help her out by taking them to church. And we were her first stop on her way to church!!! (Double YAY for us!!!)
And because I have this upcoming trip to the Big City, and a play to attend, I had told the Lord how sad I was that I needed to spend His money to buy a dress suitable for my Big Night Out On The Town. And there, amongst the many beautiful clothes on the floor of Diane’s basement was The Dress. Perfect for my coloring. A little snug – enough so to motivate me to lose a bit of blubber before I have to wear it. And that’s a good thing, too!!!
Oh, it’s good all around on so many levels.
So, today, I am thanking the Lord for several things.
I am thanking Him for delivering me from a crippling fear 16 years ago, and allowing me to stay home and enjoy raising my kids.
I am thanking Him for His daughters who serve him quietly and faithfully in hundreds of small ways, extending themselves in kindness and mercy and grace toward others.
I am thanking Him that the ripples of these small acts of kindness extend far beyond what the giver may ever see or know.
I am thanking Him that He understood my desire for a special dress, but agreed with me that spending His money on that was unnecessary, and provided the perfect dress by way of my friend, Judy.
And if you have hung in there and read this very self-absorbed tale, I would encourage you, dear friend, to keep on keeping on with those small acts of kindness. You may never know who is touched by the ripples thereof, but God knows. He sees our small acts of service done because we love Him, and it matters to Him. And He’s the very best audience of all.