by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2014
God-stories often take awhile to tell because in order to see His hand in the details, we need to have the background. It is because we know the history that when God moves in our lives we can see His story unfolding before us and we are mesmerized by His magnificence.
And God is in the details every day. When we seek to be followers of Jesus, listening to the Holy Spirit with our childlike hearing so we can obey what He is telling us to do (because this is what Jesus did: He listened to and obeyed Father, setting aside His own will), then our ordinary days become quite extra-ordinary. In the midst of the normal, God shows up in delightful, comforting and encouraging ways. When we share these God-stories, these tales of how God has been undeniably at work in our lives, it is one of the key ways we give our Lord the honor and credit (glory!) He is due and it helps others “see” Him so they can believe in Him, too. Simultaneously, our personal faith is strengthened by the God-stories others share with us, especially on days when we are weak. Sharing the God-stories reminds us to look beyond discouragement and despair or even the fear and anxiety we too frequently experience in our everyday to see He indeed is with us through all things now. Such is the beautiful, loving way of our God, writing stories of His Presence and care through every day of our lives which can be not be explained away without acknowledging Him. These are stories which delight our hearts and build faith in us and others.
Here is an example. It is a story told in two parts of what would appear to others as an ordinary day with a little rain storm, meeting a friend for tea, a friendly phone call and a long drive home, where to me through it all, our Lord showed me intimately and personally once again how He is at work through all things. In Him with Him and through Him, what others consider ordinary is always extraordinary.
The morning of October 15th, I was at our El Dorado County home later in the week than usually has been the case. There had been possible rain in the forecast for the morning of the 15th. A storm was indeed on its way through, but human prognosticators were unsure whether rain would fall as far south as we live.
Oh, how I wanted it to rain. California remains in desperate need of rain. We have had drought conditions for far too long. Discouragingly, these seem to mirror much of the spiritual condition in the state, especially within the government. God is missing, ignored and not consulted. Thus it is as though our state has become a spiritual wilderness. There is a pervading dryness where we are dying for lack of His Water. We need more of the Holy Spirit—the Living Water, who flows down from the throne of God when He is welcome.
For many years when it has rained, especially into our intermittent drought conditions, to me it has symbolized a manifestation in the physical realm (and atmosphere) of what we need in the spiritual. Eight years ago, I also prayed that when it rains here it would be a two-fold sign from our Lord. First, that I am in His will. And secondly, that He has heard our many prayers and is indeed restoring us to Himself spiritually even though we may not see many tangible results of it yet.
Seen from this perspective I love rain! I love it for its natural good consequences in our physical drought and for what it means from Him for us spiritually. Indeed in this season of California drought how I long for it and revel in the sound of it when it comes.
How super it would be to be in El Dorado County, the place where the 1849 gold rush started, if it were to rain. Oh Lord, the pursuit of earthly gold is not the answer. The pursuit of You is. When we seek You and seek to dwell in You during the life You promise to those who follow Jesus, from here through eternity, as our all-powerful Lord, who is Creator of all, including the entire universe, You promise to provide perfectly for us. Oh, rain in California. Rain in El Dorado County and let it be as a sign that by Your Spirit You are slowly breaking the spiritual drought and ushering in a God-rush, where one by one people will seek You instead of gold and You will protect and provide perfectly in response. Lord, could You please cause it to rain on October 15th, when I am in the county of the 1848 gold discovery site?
All week so many had looked forward to this potential forecast of rain. Even the night before, I had asked the Lord for it please to be enough rain so the season of hand watering our young oak trees planted this past spring would be ended. How I longed to just sit with my Lord more instead of traipsing around the property with the long watering hose. (Certainly, He also spoke to me mightily when I was out and about the yard-work and especially on long walks, but how much more I loved to just sit with an open Bible, worship music in the background and pen ready to journal whatever He wanted to share with me.)
All night whenever I briefly became awake I had listened for the beautiful sound of His rain on the roof which would mean He was refreshing the drought-parched ground. But despite promising clouds there was no rain.
I awoke shortly before 7am and felt His nudge to arise and go to the open window and pray. As He led I began to speak audibly out into the atmosphere which was pregnant with the scent of rain, but as yet none had fallen. This was travailing prayer. To travail means to labor. Thus it is that birthing type of prayer which presses from the inside and must out like the laboring in order to give birth to a child.
Like physical labor, travailing prayer is involuntary. It comes upon one sometimes when least expected and one simply has to pray. These were prayers of His Spirit in me back to Him. It was deep calling to deep. The Lord was working through one of His lesser human vessels in prayer to birth that which He desired into our physical world. “Lord, send Your rain. Holy Spirit, how we need You in this place. Holy Spirit, send Your Living Water. Oh Lord, the physical rain is to be a sign that You have heard our many prayers and are answering according to Your promise. Oh, Lord, in the desperateness of this physical drought which so perfectly mirrors the spiritual drought in this land, You would not send impotent clouds in response to all our prayers! Oh Lord, let none of Your clouds be impotent. We need Your rain. Holy Spirit, we need You. Living Water, flow down from the throne of God. Rain in our hearts. Rain on our land and bring forth Your life!”
I sucked in my breath. At exactly the moment He had had me begin to pray, a breeze began to flow through the branches of the previously still trees. It reminded me of how the movement of the Holy Spirit, our Breath of Life, is described. Within minutes mist began to fall from the sky.
“Lord, more! Thank You, thank You! But this is not enough! We need Your sign that You are sending enough of Your Spirit to awaken hearts and the physical ground needs more water! More, Lord, please!”
The mist turned into sheets of rain moving across the little valley. It was “just-right” rain—not too much too fast, but just enough to give the earth the drink it so desperately needed.
Peace filled me to overflowing. What a glorious morning! I was soo thankful, so amazed, so content, so in awe of our Lord’s graciousness and how He partners with us to birth His will. The One who asks us to pray, hears and answers. My joy on this morning was complete! He even dropped the beginning melody and lyrics to a new worship song into my mind as the rain poured down, “Holy Spirit, fall like rain…bring Your water from above. Quench the thirst within our hearts. Holy Spirit, Holy Love”.
The rain continued for several hours. It was so soothing to watch! So much for the 25% possibility of precipitation, predicted by human prognosticators! Oh, Lord, how I love it when You show You rule!
There was a fairly new friend with whom I was supposed to meet around 10am. Usually I try to preserve the entire morning when in El Dorado County for time with my Lord, in study of the Word of God, worship, journaling and writing, often with worship music playing in the background, but with minimized distractions so I am still within, ready for whatever He wants to share with me. However, this friend and I wanted to meet. She, her husband and daughters were very new to El Dorado County, however now the Lord was calling them to quickly move to another foothill gold rush community in an adjacent county. We wanted to meet one more time before she left to share with one another what God had been doing in response to prayers.
We chose to meet at a little café in Coloma, a place less than a mile from where James Marshall first had found the gold in the American River in January 1848. This had led to the historic 1849 gold rush, where tens of thousands from all over the world had trekked to California in the hopes of becoming materially wealthy.
I loved doing God-oriented things in the Coloma area, as a way of sort of letting the Lord know even now, that He was first, not gold—that more and more of us were turning our focus to trusting, looking for and listening to Him, in an effort to live out what Jesus had spoken as recorded in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. If we sought to grow closer to our Lord, He would make sure we had what we needed, just as He provided for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
In order for our nation and world to come into right alignment with God, He needed to be acknowledged as such by how we chose to live. And He was and is my God, not money of any sort.
Now, this does not mean I am ignorant of the need for money in order to live and the need to work in order to earn. Our family is very cognizant of these things. Golly, I am a Certified Financial Planner with over 30 years’ experience in the financial planning arena! However, everything was created by and belongs to God and He is the only One with power to enable all things—including all that we have. Thus, my reliance is on God to lead us in how to make sure we have what we need, not in our own ideas, abilities or those of any other human being. The gold was not the goal, getting to know God further was. If I tried to follow Him like Jesus did—only doing as I felt His Spirit was leading—He promised we would have enough.
The air was still damp with the smell of first autumn rain as we sat at an outside table, our cups of green tea steaming into the crisp temperatures. It had stopped raining and though I would have loved for it to rain all day, there were others like my friend who had things to do, which would simply be easier to execute if it was under dry skies instead of a downpour.
We shared back and forth excitedly about the evidence of God’s continued leading, care and provision in our lives. She was on a tight timeline. The hour passed quickly. Before we each went to our respective cars to depart and get on with our day, the Lord led me to ask her to quickly take a look at an item in the back of my car which I had been planning to donate to the local thrift store. It was a little arm chair which had been in our daughter’s room, but since she had moved out-of-state to her own place, we had no more use for it.
It was the strangest thing (and so like our God). The day before I had been on my way to make the donation and the Lord had whispered not to do so until I had had my time with this friend and offered the chair to her. I felt like it was for one of their girls. It was as if I could see one of them in my mind’s eye snuggled up and finding great comfort in it.
Though I am one who likes to get “to-do’s” checked off the list, being in the will of God is more important to me than anything else. So the day before, I had asked the Lord what He wanted me to do instead of going to the thrift store. I had an hour before it was time to head over to meet with Hilda for a haircut. I had promised to bring her a coffee from a local coffee shop and wanted to take it to her hot. However, instead of heading to the hospice thrift shop, the Lord nudged me to head to the coffee shop now. Well, that was just odd. I double checked. Yes, when I listened interiorly this is what came with the greatest sense of inner peace; this was the way the Lord was leading. I decided to order my own drink, use the restroom and ask the Lord what He wanted me to do with this suddenly free hour.
When I came out of the rest room and retrieved my drink, I saw the back of a person near the door who I thought was one of my dearest friends, but it would be highly rare to encounter her here, since she lived about 30 minutes away in an adjacent community. However, what blessing! When I took the risk to tap her on the shoulder, she turned and great hugs ensued! It was Maryal and we had not seen each other in person or really spoken by phone (because post-surgery telephone remains difficult for me right now) since I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in mid-July. As it turns out she was meeting someone there and asked me to join them. It was a discussion relevant to the prayer movement in our state and nation and the desire in so many of our hearts for us as a population to turn back to God and seek to live His way with lives consecrated to and devoted to Him.
Oh, Lord, You are so amazing! So THIS is how You want me to spend the suddenly open hour. Oh, Lord, thank You for directing me to the coffee shop and away from the thrift store at an illogical time! How magnificently You cleared my schedule of the task I thought was for now, and brought me here an hour before I thought was the right timing. What a wonderful time with the two of them!
During our meeting, I had also noticed a woman coming in and out of the coffee shop several times with her service dog. The second time, I also noticed that her dog was wearing a little Army jacket. I wondered…was she a veteran? So often women veteran were not acknowledged the way male veterans were. Lord, what do you want me to do? I felt as if I was supposed to give her a copy of the song “Stand Up” in a little gift bag and thank her for her service then and now. She was seated at a table outside. The urge in me to do this for her kept growing! However, I did not feel called to disrupt the meeting I was in so that I could check in with her. Lord, if she is a veteran and I am supposed to reach out to her, please, please don’t let her leave before I can!
Our meeting was over. I was able to give the man with whom Maryal and I met a copy of the RESTORE worship CD in order to provide some worship songs to accompany his mission as well as to affirm his efforts within the prayer movement to lead exactly toward this type of societal restoration—with a special emphasis on youth. I got in my car, remembered Hilda’s coffee and felt the illogical urge to get it by entering the coffee shop drive-through. This meant I had to drive around the front of the building again. As I did, with Hilda’s coffee in hand, I was pleased. It looked like I would arrive right on time for my appointment. However, because I was driving around the front, suddenly I saw her again—the woman with her service dog. Oh my goodness, Lord! Thank you! She was still there!
Oblivious now to the clock, I found a place to park my car, got out and went into the Eagles Nest Foundation box in the back to put together the little gift with the copy of the song “Stand Up” and write her a note, in case she was indeed a veteran.
She was! She introduced me to her service dog, Marshall, and accepted the gift. It was such a special moment! Oh, Lord, how You do continue to amaze me! Jubilant at the marvelous, caring nature of our God, I proceeded to meet with Hilda, where alone in her shop we enjoyed each other’s company reveling in sharing and encouraging one another with our God stories (testimonies of how He had been there for us in our lives).
Only after leaving Hilda’s shop did I realize that now even if I wanted to, I could not make the donation to the thrift shop because it had closed for the night hours before. Well then, Lord, I guess I am offering the item to my friend in Coloma tomorrow morning. I guess that was you.
And now here we were. The next morning: October 15th. My friend agreed to take a look at this item in my car slated for donation. When she saw the chair, immediately she told me she would take it. One of her daughters actually could really use it. She was in need of a chair of her very own. This one seemed perfect size and style to affirm to this little girl how special she was.
Wow, Lord, really?!? Wow. Once again, God had known and He had allowed me to hear. I remembered discussing it with Him a bit on the way to Coloma for tea. It didn’t seem very considerate to me, to offer this family a chair, when they were scrambling to get packed and moved three days later. Why would I offer them one more thing to have to move, quite literally adding to my friend’s load? But our Lord had seen a little girl He loved who needed her very own chair. It was as if He specifically had wanted her to know, that He loved her so much, He had told someone who had never met her to bring her a chair. That is the exquisite majesty of the all-good, indescribably kind God we serve. Oh, magnificent Lord, indeed exactly as You describe, Your love knows no bounds!
My friend did not have space in her vehicle to transport the chair from Coloma to the nearby home they were vacating. I had time. I drove the chair for her.
She opened the garage door to receive it and immediately and for no particular reason, my eyes fell on a piece of artwork in the stack of things to go. It was a large image of wheat. Oh, how cognizant I am that one of my roles for the Lord in this life is to produce spiritual food (like grain) in the form of writing and music to encourage others and help them on their own journey drawing closer to God. I said nothing to my friend that I had noticed the artwork in the corner.
As we unloaded the chair my friend walked over to the piece of art unprompted and asked if I would like it. She said it was one of her favorites, but she felt as if she was to give it away and was asking if I would like it. A little stunned, I accepted the gift and we placed it in the spot in the back of my car where the chair had been. Our magnificent Lord was providing for us one to the other. Stunning. (to be continued)
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Ps.8:9)
NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOMGod’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Christmas is coming. For new original worship music with which to usher in this blessed season and stay focused on Christ, visit the CDBaby link below. “Christmas Worship” is available now. “Christmas Bells Call to Worship” will be available the beginning of December.
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email email@example.com or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org