Great things come in packages of 3…have you heard that? Maybe I just made that up because….
#1 – it’s 3 AM, I’ve been up hushing little one, and hoping good things are to come at this hour….
#2 – AbiNoelle just told me last night that she wasn’t worried because PopPop said he was sure that Jesus would come back before the year 3,000. (PopPop: did you say that?)….
#3 – We had a visit from 3 very special friends last night. Oh the joy to hold little Baker Lilly Duffy and fellowship with her Mommy and Daddy. When God dips his brush into the pot of grace and paints a life story, the testimony is unmatched, and what a blessing to be a small stroke of the brush in His uniquely designed masterpiece.
Many times our influence reaches farther than we could ever imagine. From sitting in IHOP to, now, my 3 AM reflections, the reward of influence comes into clear focus.
Little Baker’s Mommy was a little wisp of girl who had grown up in surroundings destitute of God’s love, yet miraculously had been saved as a young child and that simple faith guided her to a back row in church each Sunday as a single young lady. Through circumstances only God could orchestrate, He led the two of us to a table in IHOP that opened the door for a faithful year of discipleship. From depression, anxiety, and many destructive relationships, God reached out His loving hand and she took hold with that same faith that had saved her as a child. Last night, as we wiped the milk dribble and strawberry syrup from little fingers while our families enjoyed each other’s company, we were able to sit back in that same IHOP and see the GREAT reward of that moment of influence – an influence – a challenge to rise up and be the best you can be for God.
Providentially, at the table next to us in IHOP sat another family we had not fellowshipped with in years. As we quickly chatted and caught up on life happenings, we were reminded of a gift we had given their teenage daughter some ten or more years ago. That Bible given to her when she could just begin to read His Word is still by her bedside being used for each morning’s devotions. That moment of influence – an influence – a challenge to rise up and be the best you can be for God – no doubt, has the potential to make a difference reaching into eternity.
As we said our IHOP goodbyes to such special folks (I’m sure we had put on quite the entertainment for others who had stopped to simply eat a quiet meal – after all, we had talked and talked AND taken a silly amount of pictures AND heard AmiJoy’s rendition of her Bible verses and several other songs), our friends made the point to specifically encourage AbiNoelle to keep up her hard work with violin, Scripture memory, and Tweety-Pie lessons. They told her that she may not realize just how many people were watching her, but people were watching. What helpful words were those! We all need a reminder sometimes that our influence reaches far beyond what we might realize. In recent days, for AbiNoelle, that influence has been double-sided, you might say. In several unique situations, she has been given the opportunity to play her violin and portray Tweety-Pie (a character used in our ministry to teach on the Constitution and other Biblical lessons.) From “Nothing But the Blood” at the yard sale to “Angels We Have Heard on High” at the doctor’s office and hometown parade, the sweet melody of her violin has played a clear message of blessing and promise.
To our amazement, her influence on others resulted in many encouraging words from complete strangers to keep up her efforts to learn the violin. AND NOT ONLY words of encouragement but monetary donations for her violin lessons fund. She now has raised nearly $500 for her next year’s lessons. No doubt, many of those who acted upon her influence do not realize how they have been used by the Lord to encourage a little girl and meet the need to further train to be used of the Lord, but we can certainly sit back and 3 AM and smile! That moment of influence – an influence – a challenge to rise up and be the best you can be for God will not be soon forgotten by AbiNoelle (or Mommy and Daddy).
In a world so obsessed with finding the next moment of validation for what is no more than a life filled with self-will instead of the will of God, self-respect instead of respect for God’s Authority, and self-trust instead of trusting in the Lord, we are thankful for those moments of influence – real influence that point us to a higher and closer walk with God.
AbiNoelle and I have had the privilege of tracing our heritage back to the days of the American War for Independence and in doing so, have been accepted into the DAR and CAR, respectively (Daughters of the American Revolution and Children of the American Revolution). While not an explicitly Christian organization, its foundation has been built on Biblical principles with its motto being “God, Home and Country.” The President General of the DAR is actively promoting the theme Rise and Shine for America! I like that word Rise. It indicates an upward, continual motion. I Corinthians 8:9 says, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” Certainly, here in America and as a 21st Century Christian, we have many liberties not even imagined by those gone before. It is our duty, our responsibility, and should therefore be our passion to not abuse those liberties resulting in a backward motion or digression in faith and practice, but to use those liberties to pursue a higher, closer walk with Him. It is not admirable to validate people where they are, but only to encourage them to reach, to strive, to rise above where they are and be the best they can be for the glory of God. Many say, especially in the wake of shootings and other tragedies, that what the world needs is Jesus. But the truth is that the world will not see their need for Jesus or the difference that He can make in their life if someone doesn’t Rise. Surely, there are critics and naysayers and names will be called – goodie-two-shoes, holier-than-thou, better-than-something, one-up, better-than-your-betters, etc. Regardless, the call has been given to Rise up and Shine…whether that be in the patriotic sense for America…or in an eternal impact for our Saviour. Rise in your voting, serving, working, dressing, looking, talking, studying, witnessing. In all that you do, do all to the glory of God.
And doing, we have, which we pray has been all to the glory of God…