“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Is there a scripture with your skin on? One you’ve truly lived out? Please tell me the Bible isn’t just black and white words on a rice-paper thin page of an old book. Seriously.
Four years ago on a Saturday morning in April Ephesians 3:20-21 came very alive to me. The story became a blog post. To recapture the highlights: I was sitting in a large room filled with many women, most of whom I really didn’t know, though nearly all of us attended a large church in Northwest Houston. I was supposed to act as a facilitator or something at a table of about eight women. Sad to say, I wasn’t a very good hostess that Saturday. And I can only recall one woman at that table in my mind today. God’s purpose for my being there that Saturday was not to get to know some more women and their lives, especially in a noisy crowded room.
He positioned me there so I could witness how He changed the life of one messed up young man and was about to rescue my own son. The woman who got up that morning to speak was clinging to the Holy Spirit who was linked to the Anchor, Jesus Christ. Her quavering voice and visibly shaking hands holding her notes were obvious clues that her story was raw. Fresh. So fresh that her son had been sober only since February. It was April. But she was celebrating because she witnessed the deeper change in his behavior, reaching into his heart.
Tears coursed down my cheeks. I had used up all my Kleenex and now I didn’t care as she spoke. She was telling my story. No one could see that I was shaking just as much. My son was struggling to hold a job and stay sober, living in a halfway house, using bus transportation.
After the woman walked off the stage, I got up from my seat and hurried out to the lobby where she was drinking a much-needed bottle of water. Excuse me, but where is your son living now? My son desperately needs to talk to your son, I explained, quivering. Not, you were so brave, Mom. Not, thank you for sharing. In my own rawness I could only think of my son. She understood and graciously talked to me briefly.
My husband and I drove our son over to the house where her son was living and in the course of a very short time, my son heard the Gospel…..anew. This time he was ready. He was ready to hear and to change and to get serious about his walk with the Lord. And…..he moved into that house for a while. Now, over three years later both of our sons are clean and living for the Lord.
The theme at that women’s retreat was Ephesians 3:20-21. God just amplified that verse and concreted it my soul forever that weekend.
Abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
This past semester three of our church buildings were flooded during Hurricane Harvey, causing all of our Bible Study groups to move to other locations, primarily to homes. But with our single moms and the need for two large rooms, one for the moms to meet and the other for the children, the Lord graciously led us to another church who have opened their hearts and arms to us in gloriously generous ways.
The Lord also brought two teen sisters with a passion for children to our ministry and loved on our children while I taught the lessons each week. A week before Thanksgiving break they told us they would be moving on to another church after Christmas.
We mentors began to earnestly pray for teens to come alongside us and love on our single moms’ children. Doors were shut on our youth at our church. Wednesday night was the only night our youth pastor had with our youth. No, they were going nowhere to minister that night.
The Wednesday night before our month-long Christmas break, Susan, our teacher, looked at me and said, why don’t we switch places? You teach the women and I’ll teach the children. I looked at her in surprise. Really? Well, is that what you want? Yes, she said, firmly.
I had been using materials from Child Evangelism Fellowship from Good News Clubs after school the past two years. I offered them to her, but also suggested she could use whatever she wanted. Working full-time in special education during the week, I knew Susan’s preparation time was limited. I called our church and was told they had lost everything in the flood. Of course. Their offices were all on the first floor and the building got over five feet of water. Go to the Christian bookstore, I was advised. Okay. I went and looked at the floor to ceiling shelves of children’s teaching literature for about three seconds and walked out the door, totally overwhelmed.
I emailed the children’s director of the church where we were guests. She responded that she would meet with Susan and me after the holidays.
This past Tuesday, Ephesians 3:20-21 came alive again. I walked in to her vast office. She offered two curriculum to choose from and multiple children’s Bibles, and then. She walked us to the children’s supply closet. She unlocked the door and wallah! Floor to ceiling craft supplies all at our disposal! Whatever Susan needed or wanted to use with the children! And we never knew this closet was there! Right across the hall from where our moms meet!
“You have not ‘cause you ask not,” Lonnie Hayter, the Baptist Student Union Director would always say when I was in college.
Abundantly! Exceedingly! More!
Susan and I hugged Mingo at least three times. She walked us to the children’s room we had been using and made a space for us on the shelf for the Bibles and any other books we wanted to use. Last semester I had been bringing all the supplies and toys each week, lugging three large tote bags of teaching materials including a worn out CD player, though there was a newer CD player right there on the counter. I never knew to ask anyone if we could use their supplies. I always made sure to leave the room as I had found it-clean and orderly.
Mingo also said she would contact their youth pastor to ask if they would allow the youth to help us and earn community service hours and could rotate in and out. Thank you, Mingo!
By the way, I said to her, we have invited your church’s single moms to join us! I have contacted your Discipleship Director and will meet with her when she returns to the office. We are praying for more mentors. Oh, responded Mingo, we have a large group of senior women who would love to help you and participate in your ministry! Manna from heaven.
As to our moms, we will be using a Bible Study book called Open Your Bible as the tool, though we will be referring to the Bible only in our one hour study, as Susan has so effectively been doing the past four and a half years.
Was I ever worried when our teen sisters gave us the news of their imminent departure? Not one bit. I knew we only needed to ask the Lord and wait on Him. He would supply if this ministry was to continue or not. He was in charge.
According to the power that works within us
It seems every week we are amazed and overjoyed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our room with our moms. Since our single moms’ ministry has been meeting four and a half years, we have witnessed God at work in the lives of our moms for His purposes. Though our mentors have come and gone, and moms have come and gone, God has remained faithful. He has shown up every single week, strengthening our senior mentor’s tired bodies as they trudge up the stairs to our meeting room, hauling totes and crock pots of fresh made dinner. Shortly after, our strung out moms walk up the stairs far behind their active young ones, painting on a smile and receiving our hugs and greetings.
So I was not worried when the teens said they were not coming back after Christmas. I was not overly concerned when one of our mentors emailed from Kansas to tell us she is still needed with her son and grandchildren. God was going to show up. He would provide. Or. He would shut down the ministry. It was and is always His since the beginning. We have always looked at one another and said, “We have no idea what we’re doing. He shows up and shows us. All He asks of us is our faithfulness and trust in Him that He will provide!” And He does. Every. Single. Wednesday.
Scripture with skin on. Living out His truth. Leaning in to the Holy Spirit. Seeking out His will. And after we have done our part-prayer, seeking, asking, preparing, He shows up and teaches and opens the hearts of our moms and their children and He draws them closer to Himself. We just get the joy and pleasure of witnessing His good grace over our seeking broken moms. He asks us to love. Period. And we do. We so love our moms deeply and completely. Holding them loosely in our open hands.
To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!