Please Send Me Grace

Recently, I chaperoned a youth mission trip, where we served at different ministry sites around our host city. About two days into the trip, we were to visit a children’s recreation center. I woke up feeling awful. I don’t know why, but my emotions were stirred up. I was afraid I’d snap at someone without meaning to. On the way there, I prayed for God to help me with my emotions. “God, I need a lot of grace today. Please, give me grace. I need Your grace.”

When we arrived at the recreation center, we spread out to try and meet some of the children and see if we could play basketball with them, or just talk and encourage. I met a couple of girls who showed me how to tie bracelets. Another girl showed me her new fingernail polish. Then they scampered off. I looked around the room to see where God would send me next.

Instead, He sent someone to me.

This little girl, eight years old, saw me from across the gym and ran straight toward me. She ran up and gave me a hug, and said, “Do you want to be my friend?”

Instantly my emotions settled and I felt joyful. We were there to help the kids. I felt like God had sent this little girl to help me.

I asked her, “What’s your name?”

She answered, “Grace.”

I had chills from head to toe. What was my prayer that morning? He had answered.

Jesus on a Soccer Field

Don’t think God won’t use you to help others. He will use you in ways you’d never expect.

A few years ago I chaperoned a youth mission trip. One night we had a big picnic on the river for a community we had been serving. A group of students decided to play soccer. I so badly wanted to join them in my favorite sport. But I had just been through numerous injuries and surgery. I couldn’t get out there and run, and I couldn’t risk being hit or knocked down. I stood by the sidelines and felt so discouraged. I felt like I was getting “old” and my body was wearing out, and there was nothing I could do about it. I missed feeling young and being able to run and play.

I asked Jesus to come and help me, so I wouldn’t be so sad. Immediately, one of the students walked over to me with a soccer ball. He asked what was wrong. I told him. He set down the ball and, willing to leave the exciting soccer match, he started gently kicking the ball back and forth with me. It was just what I needed. I felt like I got to “play” soccer but without hurting myself. He made a sacrifice for me and I was no longer sad.

I had asked Jesus for help. He answered me, in the heart and feet of a willing high school student.

Be open to the ways God will use you with others. When you listen for His prompting, the littlest ways can make a world of difference.

A Pigeon of Peace

I was about to receive prayer ministry. God was stirring up “something.”

The past few months have been rough. I’ve barely held it together. I had to take time off to avert a crisis. Then I got sick.

During this time, I felt my workload increasing while I barely had enough energy to breathe. I had to put up lots of boundaries.

Everyone was understanding, but it bothered me. Boundaries are good, and healthy. I didn’t know why it bothered me so much.

I knew the Lord was about to reveal the “why” in my session.

Would I make it to my session?

I started to ask the Lord that very question, along with another question: How will I eat lunch today? This was my one day a month when I have a lunchtime meeting, and I hadn’t thought to bring anything with me.

Just as I started to feel frustrated, poof! A pigeon appeared on the window ledge of my office. I didn’t know my office had a window ledge, and this was a very large pigeon. He was staring at me.

He walked along the ledge to get even closer to where I sat, and stared some more.

I reached for my phone so I could take a picture of him – not that anyone else would be amazed, but because I was so amazed. Who even knew I had a window ledge? He kept staring and a deep laughter bubbled up inside me. It felt like the “poof” of his presence uncorked my joy that, frankly, I’d forgotten about for weeks.

I took a few pictures and then my camera rang. I do so many things on my phone that I often forget it is a phone. In the middle of the pigeon photo was the name of the prayer minister I was about to meet. I pushed “Answer” and said something like, “Huh?”

The pigeon’s appearance on the ledge had drained my thoughts. Considering they were thoughts of angst, that was a good thing.

As I tried to tell her about the pigeon, another pigeon joined this one. Now they were both staring. I’ve been in this office since July and this has never happened. Did I mention I had no idea my second-story window has a ledge, or that a bird would want to sit so high? The ledge is not that wide, either.

Finally the second pigeon flew off, and the first one flew across the narrow courtyard to perch on a ledge that now appeared across from me.

He spread out his wings and just rested. I’ve never seen a bird rest like this. I felt peace just to look at him, and all my frustrated thoughts were gone.

He was a beautiful pigeon. I don’t know that I’ve ever used the words “beautiful” and “pigeon” together. I’ve never looked that closely at a pigeon, but this one was gorgeous, sitting in the sun with such peace. His throat was a brilliant purple, the color of royalty. A pigeon by any other name is a dove, and this dove was a messenger of peace.

My prayer minister was amazed God had prompted her to call at that moment, so she could share in the amazing peace of that pigeon. She reminded me that God has a way of duping me into getting my healing by approaching me with animals. In the middle of a session, the wounds of my heart cause me to push Him away. So He woos me with an animal. Usually He brings them to me in visions. This one was right in my face. Even resting, it looked right at me.

She said, “I can’t top that, but I called to ask if you’d like me to pick up lunch and bring it to you.”

Wow.

“Actually, you did top the pigeon,” I said. “I was just asking God how in the world I’m supposed to eat today. Thank you.”

The session that followed brought deep peace. The Lord always brings peace, in every session I’ve ever been part of, receiving or giving. This time He surpassed anything I’d experienced. My prayer ministry friends will tell you I always say that, and it’s true. He always outdoes Himself. Because He can.

This time He had prepared me with a beautiful pigeon.

A day and two sessions later, as I look at the ledge in the gathering dusk, I can still see the peace of that sweet bird.

And I see God smiling. I can’t help but smile too.

Good job, God. Thanks.

Coke Cup from Heaven

This happened three years ago, but I don’t think I’ve shared it here. So here goes.

I was visiting with friends in Arkansas. One of our friends, a doctor, was hosting a table at a community resources exhibition. Another friend and I were planning to help her out at the table that day. However, I woke up feeling horrible. I wasn’t sure why. It was August and the heat was sweltering. I had a slight headache, but by the time we arrived at the exhibition center, the pain had intensified. We went inside just long enough to see our doctor friend, and by then I told my friends I had to go home. My head was throbbing and I was starting to feel nauseous and dizzy.

We got back into the car and started the long drive home. I was just trying to maintain myself and couldn’t wait to get out of the rumbling car. My friend asked if we could make a quick stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru to get a dollar burger for her dog at home. Feeling half unconscious, I just grunted that this would be fine.

As we got in line at the drive-thru, my thoughts turned to a time when I was very sick as a child. This didn’t feel all that different. That childhood illness was heat stroke, and I wondered if this might be the same. One thing that had helped so much during that childhood heat stroke was that my mother gave me a coke to drink. I wasn’t raised drinking soda; my mom was very much against it. However, there were some medical circumstances when she thought a coke would be helpful.

My friend had placed her order and paid, and as the car crept forward to the pick-up window, I thought, Wouldn’t a coke be nice right now? It was too late to order, plus I had no money. So I turned to prayer instead. God, You’re my Healer. I need Your help right now. I’m not feeling so good. Please help me. You’re the One who can refresh me.

We got to the pick-up window and my friend reached out to take the hamburger bag. The woman working at the window said, “Hey, would either of you like a large coke?” She reached toward the counter and picked up a huge cup. “I just filled this but we didn’t need it. You can have it. It’s free.”

With tears in my eyes, I rolled my aching head toward the window and nodded. “That’s from God,” I told my friend and the woman at the window. I reached for the coke and then started to drink, sobbing between sips. Then I leaned back in the seat, into the arms of my heavenly Father, and said, “Thank You, Abba.”

The whole way home, I was crying, sipping coke, and praising God. By the time we got to the house, I went in to lie down, already feeling that I had turned a corner, and was on my way to recovery. By dinnertime that night, I was fine.

I still have the empty coke cup. I feel that God reached down from heaven and put it in my hand.