“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”Zechariah 3:9
Several years ago my husband and I went through many hours of training in order to be a part of the Billy Graham TV and Telephone Ministry. This took place about the same time I became a volunteer at the local jail where I teach Bible Studies for female inmates.
One Saturday I spent several hours preparing a lesson. My entire focus was on the women in jail and how they would handle their life after being released. That evening, as my husband drove to the church where we’d be answering the phones for the Billy Graham ministry, I began to review the material we’d studied. I suddenly panicked as I read these topics, “What to do if someone is suicidal”, “What if someone fears for their life”, “A child calls and tells you they are being abused.” I felt my confidence and faith drain out of me. These thoughts took over - I don’t think I can handle this; I’m not a trained counselor, what if I say the wrong thing or give the wrong advice? I wanted to sit in a corner and watch the evening unfold.
No such luck, I was given a badge, and assigned a carrel with a phone. “Watch this button” the supervisor said pointing to the phone. “When it lights up, that’s your call.” My stomach did a flip. I opened my Bible and prayed that the Lord would help me through this. I got the information sheets ready and tried to remember to breathe deeply to calm my nerves. I waited. The phones were becoming active.
My little light began to blink. I froze. The supervisor was standing behind me. “That’s your call” he said. I picked up the phone with a shaky hand and said, “Billy Graham Ministries, this is Bobbe, how can I help you?” I was supposed to say, “Have you called to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” Oh well.
The woman on the line said, “I just got out of jail today and I need some help so I don’t get into trouble again.” We were one of ten calling centers in the country. I almost laughed; here I was, one of 250 people, or more, answering phones that evening and she connects with me - probably the only one who had spent most of the day preparing a lesson for women in jail. Our God has a plan. When faith waivers, He often illustrates that He is totally trustworthy.
I relaxed, my confidence was renewed, not in myself, but in knowing the Lord had prepared me for this work, and I could do it – by His Spirit. That evening I again learned that I have been filled with God’s Holy Spirit and it is His spirit that works in me to accomplish His will.
“…for it is God in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”.Philippians 2:13.
Is there something you think you can’t do? Probably a lot of things come to mind. Can you be a good parent? Can you make your marriage work? Can you suffer through cancer? Can you control an addiction, drugs, alcohol, over-eating? Can you get your finances in order and get out of debt? God isn’t counting on you; but you can count on Him. When we take our eyes off the Lord, we’re on shaky ground. The more we get to know Jesus, the more we see that He really does “work all things together for good for those who love him”, Romans 8:28. He knows what we need and when we need it.
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, II Timothy 1:12, and told him…
“I know whom I have believed (God), and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”
When we entrust our problems to the Lord, He’ll take care of them and give us peace. I remember a bumper sticker a neighbor put on his car. It said, “No God, no peace – Know God, know peace. A great truth simply stated.
Recently the Veterans Administration gathered together a select group of thirty-two young veterans who are in the San Diego jail system and put them together in one module at the Vista Jail. They plan to have some special classes and activities for these men who’ve served their country. I was asked to teach a class in creative writing.
A little background – this summer I participated in an ‘Author’s Day’ event at our local Oceanside library. I met an editor, Robert Yehling, who had several books displayed on a table. I picked up one titled, Freedom of Vision – Voices from Behind Prison Walls. This book contains poetry and stories written entirely by those who are in a jail or prison. As I leafed through the book, I told the editor that I was very interested because of my involvement in a jail ministry. He said I could have the book with the promise that I would teach a writing class in jail. I told him that I'd love to, but there was no chance of having a class like that in the jail where I worked. I thought that to be true because I’d already asked about it.
But the Lord knew all about the veterans being moved to our jail. He was setting His plan in place. Again, fear invades, and I think I'll not be able to teach this class. I have doubts, I feel I may not be equipped…and then I remember that Jesus Christ was brought back from the dead to be the great Shepherd of the sheep (us)…
“...to equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever.” Hebrew 13:21
I trust the Lord will give me everything I need to teach this class – including a team of writers to help. I CAN DO IT! Even though this will be considered a ‘secular’ class, I know He’ll find a way for me to share the good news of His gospel.
Thank you Lord that you constantly display Your glory and reveal Your will. I trust that You’ll be with me as I teach this class.