The New Suitcase Is (NOT) Too Big

Lord God, there is none like You. Thank You for Your perfect care for all of us at all times. Help us to always hear Your voice and follow oh-so-specifically where You lead for our delight and  Your glory. In Jesus'  name, amen
Lord God, there is none like You. Thank You for Your perfect care for all of us at all times. Help us to always hear Your voice and follow oh-so-specifically where You lead for our delight and Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2015

It has been discussed in prior devotions and will likely come up many times again. Our Lord is in the small stuff. The King over all the universe and Creator of everything in it, who is greater than we can ever see or fathom is intensely involved in the details of our lives—even more so when we will let Him. Sometimes this is so evident we must share the story. It reveals the incredible, incomprehensible love of our God of all of us. We must share the God-stories so that He gets the credit and honor (glory) He is due and others will be able to see His magnificence as well.

This is a story of the Lord’s perfect provision. It is shared—not because it is the only time He has provided in such wondrous ways, but because it a resplendent example of the many times He is, well, just the way He is (supernaturally awesome)! Be prepared for a longer read than a traditional devotion. Since this is a God-story about how our Lord is in the details, the story has to—well—share these details.

This particular story seems to begin with the arrival of the deep blue purse. I had ordered a style of purse that came in a variety of colors. I had ordered it in black because I wanted to use it for work. I opened the package excitedly when it arrived and saw indeed it was the right style and…..it was blue! They had sent a deep blue purse when I had ordered a black one. Rats.

Or? It would not be the first time that the Lord arranged for a “mistake” to bring me what He knew I needed instead of what I thought I should have. I decided to keep the deep blue purse. Indeed, it seemed to work for what I needed almost as well as black. What a treat, since I am more a blue type of girl than one who goes for black anyway.

A few weeks later on August 19th, it was time for a 5 day trip which would take me to Denver, Colorado with our son while he moved into his dorm room at the college where he will finish his bachelor’s degree and then on to Spokane, Washington for my nephew’s wedding.   My husband had to work and so stayed home. I packed light and smiled when the Lord had me put dark blue satin shoes and a long dark blue silk duster jacket to go over a dress for the wedding. Aha! The purse went perfectly with this. There would only be one handbag on this trip because the one the Lord had provided (and I had not known I would need) would be perfect for every event and activity, including the wedding.

Everything I needed fit in the small black carry-on suitcase with plenty of room to spare. Our son and I drove to the airport for the flight to Denver Wednesday morning and we were off!

Moving into his dorm went like clockwork Thursday. His time slot was from noon until 1pm. After errands to get most of the last items he needed (which were too cumbersome to buy ahead and bring on the plane flight) we arrived at 12:45pm, took loads up the three flights of stairs to his room and had him moved in by 1pm. Awesome! He had an orientation to attend. I noticed we had forgotten a pillow! I would run to the store one more time while he attended his mandatory meeting.

The Lord was nudging me and nudging me again. Our son had brought his belongings to college in two large suitcases. The Lord was prompting me to leave my small suitcase with him. He would need it for short-term trips, like coming home on breaks. Oh my. This was not the first time the Lord had had me give away something I liked. Actually, He did it pretty often. Part of this was that I was not supposed to be attached to things.

Yeah. I did like this small suitcase. I had bought it a number of years ago because it was just the right size with a seemingly ideal configuration for good use.

“Give it to him.”

I knew I needed to obey. I offered it to our son. He was ecstatic. The suitcase stayed. I left to run the final errands. The Lord put a particular department store in my mind which I had seen from the road as we ran other errands. That store should a pillow for him and a new suitcase for me. I didn’t exactly know how to reach the store, but trusted the Lord. He led me directly to it via a backroad parallel to the streets and freeway with which I was familiar.

The store was two stories. I had expected what I was looking for to be all upstairs, but it appeared the upstairs was not open. The escalators were blocked off and all which could be seen beyond them was construction. Wow, what a disappointment. I was so sure the Lord had pointed me to this store. Well, He must have had another reason. Maybe it was to use up time so I would arrive somewhere else in His perfect timing. He had done this before. I continued my second circle through all the downstairs departments just to make sure. Even if the upper floor were closed for now, I had expected to find the merchandise offered in another area. Nope.

As I circled round at a brisk pace, I kept my eyes open for a wrap, like a shawl or pashmina for the wedding. The weather report had just been updated to say it was expected to be a little cooler in the evening where the wedding and reception were being held outside north of Spokane. A wrap of some sort was recommended. This store had nothing appropriate.

Just before I reached the door where I had entered, an employee was suddenly in front of me leading another customer. She led her to an elevator hidden away in the last corner before my exit. When the customer entered the elevator I entered with her. Aha! So the second floor was open!

Upstairs was everything I needed for our son and luggage. The Lord had been right to direct me here. (Duh!) I was looking for a small little carry on suitcase in a similar size to what I had had. For years that had seemed just perfect. My eye immediately fell on a deep purple set of luggage. I knew it was the Lord emphasizing these particular suitcases. I was to purchase from this set. I read all the labels and checked sizes. I pulled all the hidden ones out from under the shelves. The smallest one in the set—the one I would want to purchase—was missing. They didn’t have it in stock.

Well, then, I must be hearing the Lord wrong. He couldn’t want me to buy from this set because there was no small one!

I knew better. I knew His nudge. He was telling me to get the suitcase one size larger than I had had and than I wanted. This suitcase size would not be as flexible. I could not opt to check it or carry it on. It would have to be checked every time. It would not replace the suitcase I had left with our son in terms of its utility. Surely the Lord did not mean this suitcase. “Lord, it’s too big.” No answer. “Lord, this one is too big.” Silence and the ongoing firm nudge to take what He was providing. “Lord, I want to make sure I am hearing you correctly.” I walked around the entire luggage department asking Him if it were any of the other suitcases. In my heart I already knew the answer, even though it did not make sense.   This matched prior experiences with my Lord, when He would have me purchase something I did not know I needed—yet. The purchase would go against everything which made sense, yet I would do as I could sense Him nudging and receive a marvelous surprise at some future date.

I really did not want so large a suitcase. Oh, it wasn’t huge—only 24” versus 20”—but I did not want it. Even as I apologized to Him for not wanting what was His gift, I also reminded him how much I had wanted a smaller one.

There was not a lot of time before I was supposed to meet up with our son again. This was supposed to have been a swoop in, see what the Lord wanted me to get and swoop out , sort of shopping spree. There was no time for browsing. I knew the Lord is always right! I was choosing to take too long. Ugh. A little defiant or rebellious. “Sorry, Lord. Sorry!” I didn’t like not just straight away obeying, but I really did not want to pay for the larger bag.

In the back corner of luggage as I asked Him over and over if this or that suitcase were the one, He impressed on my mind strongly that He had already shown me what He wanted for me. He reminded me that we were wasting time because I already knew this and shouldn’t be asking Him if He meant something else. Ouch. Yup. Okay, then back to the purple suitcases I went. I walked around the collection and looked under the table where all the extra suitcases were one more time. Precious minutes were ticking passed. There was no 20” bag. I grabbed the 24” one from the collection which He had highlighted immediately as I approached the luggage department, thanked Him profusely in faith for His perfect choice for me and headed to pick up the pillow. Going through housewares on the way from luggage to bedding my eyes scanned the entire department. “Lord, You know I don’t have a wedding present yet. Lord, what do you want me to do about the wedding present for my nephew and his wonderful bride?” He did not highlight anything which was His plan for them.

Joseph and I said our final good-byes that afternoon. The next morning I prepared to head to the Denver airport for my midday flight to Spokane, Washington. My too-large new purple suitcase was packed with the anticipated loads of room to spare. It was pretty! And oh, so big.

In recent years, often the gift the Lord has had me give newlyweds either at the shower or the wedding reception has been a small one piece Christmas nativity. We received one when we wed 34 years ago and it had been so wonderful to have some sort of nativity to set out until we had decided what we really wanted for ourselves (and could afford it). This was not usually something couples received in duplicate and it was a gift I enjoyed giving which also was appreciated.

T-minus only a few hours until the plane departed Denver for Spokane. It was Friday and the wedding was the following day. “Lord? What do you want me to do about a wedding gift? Do you want me to try to find a place which has nativity sets on the way to the airport? I did not feel Him confirm this in my spirit when I asked.   Instead, I felt His inner nudge reminding me that I would have all Friday afternoon in Spokane. The only flight I had been able to book had me arriving much earlier than I would have preferred. “Ok, Lord, where shall I look in Spokane?” Once again, I felt His peace which surpasses all understanding surrounding the idea of a one piece nativity. His nudge caused me to search for Catholic book and gift stores in Spokane. These stores often carried at least a few nativities year-round.

There were two which came up on my internet search. “Lord, which one?” I asked as my eyes scanned back and forth between each search entry waiting for Him to cause one to stand out over the other. Repeatedly and consistently, there indeed was one He seemed to be highlighting. Interiorly, it just felt right although there was nothing really on their website to make me think this store was more apt to have what I needed instead of the other. I looked it up on a Spokane map. Wow. This store was just a few blocks from the freeway and literally on my way to where I needed to go. I noted the business name and finished getting ready for the airport.

As it often does, time was slipping by more and more quickly. I loved arriving early! So often the Lord arranged my schedule so that my “early” didn’t happen and His “on-time” did instead.

“Lord, if I leave now I will be early and I can just relax at the airport and perhaps read my Bible or write a little on the book manuscript for you.”

However, His inner nudge in response was not to go straight to the airport. He was nudging me to go to a store for a pashmina shawl.

What?! “But, Lord?! Airplane flights don’t wait. I know You know that…but just saying….”

Yet, I already knew what I needed to do. I researched the particular department store He had brought to mind. Indeed there was one not too far from me, but it was further away from the airport instead of closer. Well, He had never let me down when I obeyed. I would obey again—regardless of potential consequences—quite simply because above everything else I trusted Him. Over and over and over again He had shown Himself faithful. Wherever I thought He was leading, no matter how crazy it seemed, so long as it did not contradict His Word, I would obey. Okay then: on to the department store instead of the airport.

(It should be noted that I am not a big shopper. I purchase most of what I wear via the internet and enter shopping malls as infrequently as possible, usually one once or twice per year because I have to and not because I want to. So heading to a department store further away from the airport to shop for something which I was not sure I needed was not my idea of fun. I much rather would have set out for an early airport arrival. However, my Lord is NEVER wrong and I will follow Him anywhere!)

Down one unfamiliar road, then another I went in search of the store which I thought He had pointed out. There was not much extra time to get this done. The rental car had to be returned, the shuttle taken to the airport terminal, my now larger purple suitcase checked, then through security, then riding the tram out to the terminal to the departure gates, then getting to the actual gate itself. This all would take time.

About two-thirds of the distance to the store where I thought I was headed, I saw another company’s department store on my left. It felt right. This was a way the Lord frequently communicated with me. He would get me headed in a direction He knew I would recognize and then show me what He actually wanted once I was on my way.

“Oh my goodness, Lord, is this what You meant?” It was a store with less expensive prices than where I thought I had been headed and I did not have to find it, it was right there! Sensing His peace increase interiorly as confirmation that this was His intended destination, I did a U-turn at the next signal and drove into the parking lot.

I felt the urgency of the moment. No time to waste. No need to rush either. (Jesus never rushed anywhere.) However, I needed to be attentive to where He was leading and not meander. I walked into the store and immediately found a plethora of pashmina in almost every color of the rainbow. I asked the Lord if any were for me and he highlighted several—one exactly the color I had thought He wanted for the wedding and another two for winter. All of the prices were reduced.

He had me walk by a rack of dresses which were on clearance. I felt His nudge to pause and look through what was offered. I have always loved dresses. Since I was a little girl I have loved dresses and worn dresses. That is, until the extra pounds which kept piling on due to undiagnosed thyroid issues in the years prior to discovery of the thyroid cancer made dresses a less attractive choice for attire. In recent months my body finally had begun decreasing in size. As it adjusted to the presence of the proper amount of thyroid hormone bit by bit the extra pounds were disappearing in the same manner they had appeared. I was wearing dresses again!

My eyes scanned the racks of dresses. He showed me which ones to pull out and consider. He had me purchase 4 (four!) new dresses along with the pashminas. There was not time to try any of them on. I was to trust Him that these were His choices for me.

Well then, so be it! Off to the airport we go!

I smiled as I loaded the dresses and pashminas into the back of the car. Maybe this suitcase wasn’t too big after all. Am I surprised? No, not at all. Simply, completely blessed.

Of course, I made it to the rental car drop off with much faster than anticipated because He knew there would be less traffic than anticipated. Of course, the rental car shuttle was standing by as if waiting for me. Naturally, there was no line at baggage check in and security was a breeze. The tram took much longer than expected to arrive and transport all of us to our departure terminals, but the timing was exactly perfect. I arrived at my gate, without stress, exactly as passengers were asked to line up to board. I had obeyed and now He took care of the rest. Isn’t He wonderful!!!!! Oh, yes, He is!!!!! Golly, how I LOVE His plans over my own!!! Every….single….time!!!

The flight landed in Spokane on time. Rental cars were conveniently right outside the door. I got into the rental car and prepared to leave the airport for the hotel. Once again I felt the Lord’s nudge. Oh my goodness, He still wanted me to head for the Catholic goods store to get a nativity for part of the wedding gift. Sigh….Errands……I would so much rather just head for the hotel and a nap. And yet…..His plans always ended up being extraordinarily (supernaturally) better than mine. To confirm that the store I thought He was highlighting was indeed His destination, I called the store to ensure they had nativities in stock. The woman who answered said interestingly this year she had ordered nativities for the store earlier than in prior years, so yes, she had a few in stock and on display. She believed one in particular would suit my needs. She confirmed the ease with which I could reach the store on my way to the hotel.

I arrived at the store about 15 minutes later. Yes, she had a really beautiful miniature nativity which was perfect! And…the Lord had other reasons why He had brought me here. He is sooooo smart. He loves each one of us sooooo much that He would work through each of us to ensure the needs of each other are met. He is astounding! The way He works is stunning!

Soft Christmas music was playing in the background.   I had not taken note of it. The owner pointed it out. She said she had surprised herself by putting Christmas music on so early (after all it was just August). She actually had decided to change out the CD and put on something which was not Christmas. That’s when my phone call came and I asked about a Christmas nativity. She decided the Holy Spirit must have a reason and left the Christmas music on.

As she went into the backroom to find the box for the little nativity, I asked the Lord what else I was supposed to purchase. I knew He had other items for me there and He already had confirmed in my spirit that I was to bless this business by paying for additional items. My eyes scanned the store. “Lord, show me what else is here that I am supposed to purchase.” It was not a book on one of the shelves. It was not a music CD. “Lord? What is it? I know You are telling me there is something else here.”

I turned around and immediately my eye fell on two figurines on the shop counter near the cash register. Both of them were of warrior angels. One was full color of Michael the Archangel which was between 12” and 18” tall, with a wing span of 8” to 10”. As traditional, the adversary was under his foot and his sword was unsheathed and positioned to slay him. However, for the first time, the adversary had a more human appearance instead of the traditional serpent representation. It almost gave me chills. I knew exactly for whom the Lord intended this statue. It was for a specific veteran.   The second figurine was bronze and also different than any I had ever seen. It was of Gabriel the Archangel also carrying a sword and suited in full warrior armor. This figurine was slightly smaller, perhaps 8” to 10” in stature and not nearly so broad in width. I had never experienced Gabriel as a warrior angel before. Of course, Gabriel was a warrior! All angels had this capacity. It was just a new view. The Holy Spirit instantly let me know I was to purchase this angel statue as well. I knew for whom He wanted it presented as a gift.

The owner returned from the backroom. I explained that I had a non-profit called Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support in the name of Christ to military, military families and veterans and that the Lord had pointed out I was to purchase these two archangel figurines to give to two particular veterans. These two individuals gave all they had daily to serve fellow veterans, helping them forward with their lives.

The owner’s eyes teared up. I inquired the reason. She explained that her husband was a Vietnam veteran who exactly at that time, in that moment, on that day was in crisis. There were things afoot which should help in the long-term, which should be good. And they were hard. She was in awe that the Lord would send me to her shop precisely now. To her my appearance in her shop represented hope—a confirming sign that God was in this (as she already believed He was)—but now He had sent a sign that He would handle this and they would come through it okay. She laughed that my name was Elizabeth, whose baby leapt in her womb at the visitation of her cousin Mary who was with Child with Jesus. The Lord had sent and “Elizabeth” to visit her.

To me this was also the reason for her selection of Christmas music. The birth of Christ represents the beginning of fulfillment of all that God had promised—that He would rescue His people from captivity and lead them home (to our eternal home as well as being with us here). Christmas was the promise the adversary would not, could not win. Amen to the prompt by the Holy Spirit for Christmas music to be playing in this shop on precisely this day!

The owner and I reveled in awe at the beauty and exquisite care of our Lord, who had caused me to not purchase the nativity for the wedding months in advance as I usually did. In this way, I needed to search for her shop and come at this exact moment. In addition, she not only had the perfect, blessed nativity for the wedding (because she had felt led to order early this year), she also had two items in stock which I knew were to bless these two veterans in California. Wow, God! Wow!!! Our Lord is always multi-tasking!

We prayed together for her husband and for her. She prayed for me. She gave me the nativity as a gift along with a frame-able piece of artwork depicting the Holy Family. I purchased the angels. Oh-so-carefully she packed the archangel figurines in layer after layer of bubble wrap. The boxes in which they had come were too large. The Lord nudged me bubble wrap would be sufficient to safely transport them so I knew it was.

We exchanged contact information. I assured her the prayers would continue and promised to send some of my worship CDs of original songs because there were particular songs on several which I knew were His plan for her and others which were for him for such a time as this. She set the bags with the ceramic angels oh-so-carefully in the rental car, we hugged and off I went to the hotel.

Only after I reached the hotel did I realize that in order to transport these rather large bubble-wrapped angels back to California they would have to fit –IN MY SUITCASE!

“Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! How AMAZING you are!!! The suitcase now with the dresses and pashminas I didn’t know I was going to have and these rather cumbersome gifts you have provided is not too large at all!!! It is just right!!! THANK YOU, LORD for Your perfect provision every single time!!!”

Addendum: Of course it was all just right. He is God and LORD. His plans are always better than our own. All the items He had had me acquire fit perfectly. No surprise. In addition, all the dresses fit. He had prompted me to purchase dresses one size smaller than I had been wearing and not allowed me time to try them on. They all fit—perfectly. Not only that…..instead of prompting me to wear what I had packed to the wedding, He had me wear one of the new dresses which happened to go with the light blue pashmina, which happened to match the shoes He had had me pack, which happened to match the purse. Yes, He alone is God and Lord. WE REJOICE!

NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOM

God’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
 

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 albums, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org  Music can be purchased and audio clips heard 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 elizabeth@eaglesnestfoundation.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

Author: Elizabeth Fulgaro

I am a God-seeker--a Jesus-worshipper--a Holy Spirit follower. I create songs, devotions, prayers, books and Bible studies to give words with which to get to know God more. For you. Its for one-on-One encounter unto transformed, transcendent living. This is not my vocation. I am not professional. I am a real, ordinary person just looking to do what God put me here to do. (You have a unique purpose too.) So I am called to the work. It is not my income source, but my gift to those who find it blessing. Eagles Nest Foundation sponsors all projects for you. The result: pure, clean spiritual nutrition to feed that deep insatiable spiritual hunger which eventually overtakes each of us and galvanizes you to the life God has for you. This life is purposeful. Exceptional. You--yes, you--are called to something greater and more satisfying in His service. So it is hoped you'll try this spiritually dense nutrition and find it to be a personal blessing. However, the goodness of God-following doesn't stop there. He uses those who seek Him to be His love and care (justice, mercy, advocate, kindness) very tangibly in the lives of those around you. Not by your power but by His. His ideas. God ideas. Not just good ideas. To be part of changing the world, if you will let Him. You learn to just follow where He leads. That if you listen, He will teach you to hear His voice and then when you obey His inner promptings you will become His incredible hands and feet in this hard world. These materials will help! They will help you aim your life towards God in a way you never look back. You will not be the same. He will become the River in your desert spaces and you will become a conduit of this same River of refreshing, replenishing Water of Life to others. Find a prayer. Pick a blog post. Read a book. Be led deeper into the Bible. Select a song which resonates and use it and use it again to go close and ever closer to the God who longs to draw you near. Oh, and don't be tempted to think I'm a crazy over-spiritualized loony...My background is financial planning and counseling. Almost 40 years of it. To choose to believe in God is not to leave practicality and reason behind, but to learn that there is that which goes beyond it and includes it, unto true life fulfillment beyond all your dreams for the one who keeps seeking Him. I am a third generation Californian. I am a person to whom family means everything. The only priority higher is God. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are my home. It is here the 1849-1856 Gold Rush is still glorified. Easy money? Actually only for the few. Even though I was raised in the Church, it took me ten years of doubting God even existed to realize that without Him, no matter how much of this life's "stuff" is accumulated, I actually have nothing. To come to know that all those who chased after gold are dead and all those who still chase stuff will be dead. That's when I became a God-seeker. Looking for that more. And Eureka! (This is California's state slogan and means I found it.) I found God...or rather, I discovered He was there and had been there waiting for me to look for Him the whole time. May you discover more of Him for you, greater flourishing life and greater flourishing for all in the world as well. God bless you! ~Elizabeth

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