Sunday, August 22, 2010

Voices and fleeces

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

It was 33 years ago that I heard His voice.

I was a new mother, a recent “retiree” (I’d resigned from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom), and a spanking-new Christian with a vision. I’d heard Christian singer Sammy Hall in concert and wanted to bring him to Punxsutawney. I just knew area teens would love his music and respond to God’s invitation like I had.

I’d already secured a concert date with Sammy Hall Ministries. Now I was figuring out a way to pay for it. My idea was to create an interfaith youth group comprised of teens from local churches to raise the funds. I ordered boxes of candy from a fundraising agency. The next step was to contact area churches, and for this, I needed a name for the youth group.

I was on my knees praying when I heard it—“Youth for Christ.” Not audible, but loud and clear and sure. I knew I’d heard the voice of God. So I sent out letters to local churches explaining my vision and inviting their youth leaders to a planning meeting for the Sammy Hall concert. I signed my name, followed by “Punxsutawney Youth for Christ.”

Besides my own, only two or three other churches sent someone to find out what this was all about. At the meeting, a pastor asked me if this was connected to “Youth for Christ.” My blank look told him I had no clue what he was talking about. So after the meeting, he enlightened me. Youth for Christ, I learned, is an international organization dedicated to reaching the youth of the world with the Gospel and teaching them how the Bible directs us to live.

Hmmm, I thought. Does God want me to bring Sammy Hall to Punxsy or establish a YFC chapter here? The latter was a much bigger venture—bigger than me, bigger than the vision I’d had—bigger, wider, and further reaching. Back to my knees I went. But God was silent. So I asked my associate pastor for his advice.

“There’s good, there’s better, and there’s best,” he said. “Sometimes we have to determine which is good and which is best.”

“But how do I know?”

“You don’t,” he said. “But God does.”

That’s when I learned about putting out a fleece (Judges 6: 36-40).

“Lord,” I prayed, “if You want me to establish a Youth for Christ chapter in Punxsutawney—if that’s the direction You want me to go and not have the concert—have something come up that Sammy Hall can’t come.”

When I called Sammy Hall Ministries to confirm the date of the concert, the manager told me they couldn’t make it on that date and he’d get back to me (which he never did). The Punxsutawney chapter of YFCI (Campus Life) began a few months later and ministered to area youth for more than 20 years.
Dear God, thank You for the many ways You direct my steps. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Judges 6:36-40

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