It was 2-3 weeks ago when it all started … before I had a call I didn’t know I’d been waiting for.
I was sitting outside in our swing early one morning, early enough to enjoy watching the sunrise, and was reading verses on living generous. Not that I had chosen verses on “generosity” but as the morning’s reading was moving along through some cross-referencing, verses relating to “giving generously” kept surfacing. I came to Proverbs 11:25 that says:
The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown]. AMP
Then, I read 2 Corinthians 9:6,9:
Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].
You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this [generosity, administered] through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit].
As I was reading, there were these words and phrases that were standing out in hard bold really capturing my focus –
generous, source of blessing, waters, sows, generously, others, thanksgiving to God
So, I prayed.
Father, there is a matter here that You are wanting me to see, beyond the obvious. Help me to understand why these verses seem to be etching themselves into my heart? Into my will? What do You want me to know, to be understanding of, and what do You want me doing?
And a few days later back out at the swing, I read James 1:5 and when I did, my questions to the Lord seemed to be answered:
If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.
There it was. What He was wanting me to understand – and for a reason that I can’t wait to tell you!! But in that moment on that morning as I was with Him again in the swing, He wanted me to grasp this about Himself – He is a very generous giving God. It reminded me of an acrostic using the word GIVE that I wrote one day in the margin of my bible –
Thoughts were coming to my mind like – “He is abounding in love…He gives all-sufficient grace…He delights in showing mercy….He fills our cup to overflowing….” and as I was meditating on the nature and character of God, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind 1 Timothy 6:18
Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share [with others].
It was simply while pondering on what all the Lord had been saying to me for several days that 1 Timothy 6:18 came to my mind as the CLEAREST instruction, which was this:
“Be generous, Lisa. As I show you when and ways to give, give generously. Trust me in this. Don’t look to see if the provision is already there. And resist the thoughts of doubting if you should give. I will guide you, just walk with Me. I will bring to you when and where and to whom I want to give through you. Trust me. Listen for My leading and be on ready to give generously.”
—Please know…this entire post is to bring glory to God. To make quite the fuss over how good He is and faithful to lead and care for us. All we need to do is seek Him. Draw near. And resist any urges to neglect our time alone with Him.—
So, as I walked away from my swing, I knew He was teaching me something but I also knew He was preparing me for an opportunity He would provide…I didn’t have to go looking, or searching out someone in need. No, none of that. It was clear to me that He was addressing an area in my relationship with Him that He wanted to take higher…to a newer deeper level of trust. All I was to do was walk.
Fast forward to last week on Wednesday. I was in the house working when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number and because I was in the throws of getting some Farmers Market work finished, I almost ignored it. But I went ahead and took the second to answer and here’s what I heard – the softest, young, slightly high-pitched voice on the other end saying soooo southern sweetly:
“Hello. My name is Missy. Is this Mrs. Rippy?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Mrs. Rippy, like I said, my name is Missy and I’m calling with Teen Challenge. I see that in the past you have purchased items our ministry has created.”
“Hi Missy, and yes, I sure have because I just love Teen Challenge! Love everything about it! And y’all do make some cute stuff!”
“Thank you, we try. (little giggle) Mrs. Rippy, is it ok if I pray for you right now? Do you have any specific prayer needs?”
“Oh, my goodness, Missy! Thank you. And I sure do. I’ve been having a lot of pain in my arm and I go to the doctor this Friday to see what is wrong. I would appreciate prayer that it’s nothing too serious?”
Missy didn’t hesitate….she immediately prayed and I noticed something in her prayer – she wasn’t praying with churchy cliches. She wasn’t talking in broad strokes as if trying to avoid being laser specific in her request. She prayed as though Jesus was right there with her and she had something to ask of Him. It wasn’t a long drawn out prayer. But it was a prayer full of worship, sincere gratitude and asking of Him like she was sitting right at His feet. Now, you know that brought me tears. She was being very generous in how she expressed genuine concern.
After she prayed, I thanked her and she said to me,
“Mrs. Rippy, would it be ok if I tell you my testimony?”
To which I stood to my feet, put my computer down off my lap and said, “Missy, I am going outside to sit in my swing so I can give you my undivided attention!…give me a sec to get there.”
She went on to tell me how she was 22 years old (1 yr younger than my daughter) and the abuse she had experienced from a previous boyfriend – abuse that led her to self-medicate with drugs, which led to her being arrested. But what got me was how she explained, “As I sat in jail, all I kept thinking was how I don’t belong here. My parents raised me right, and I’m not this person.” She said that the Judge allowed her to go to Teen Challenge, and she’d been there 3 months. She had been sober and clean for those entire 3 months but more than that, she was getting close to God. Her voice elevated when she talked about Him.
By this point, my heart was bursting with so many feelings for this young lady! Joy, sadness, eagerness, … Oh, how I wanted to reach through that phone and hug the plum mess out of her!! As soon as she finished telling me her story, I asked her this:
“Missy, I want to pray for you, too, but may I ask you … what is your biggest struggle right now? You’re 3 months into your program there, and what is your hardest struggle?”
She didn’t pause to think. She immediately said, “I miss my family. We were suppose to have family visits last month, but because of the coronavirus we couldn’t have them out. I talk on the phone all the time, but I just really miss my parents and want to see them and hug them. Talking on the phone is good, but it’s not the same as being with them.”
I’m telling you, every feeling-fiber in me was on edge! A good edge!
So, I asked her, “Missy, may I pray for you?” And she sweetly said, “Oh, Mrs. Rippy, I would appreciate that so much.” And here’s the thing — she. meant. every. word.
After I prayed, I asked her, “Is there another reason for your call, other than us being able to pray for each other?”
“Mrs. Rippy, since we are not able to go out and sell our items we make, I didn’t know if you would want to give a one time gift to Teen Challenge?”
There it was…. “if you would want to give…”
Based on everything in my time alone with the Lord in His Word just days before, I didn’t have to pray about it. I sure wasn’t about to look at our bank account to see if I ‘could’ give. And as soon as I heard this young lady…a young lady who is living for 18 months with NO internet, NO cell phone (only a land line), NO visitors other than parents, and ONLY living in a disciplined pursuit of God for healing and freedom… well, I instantly knew that this is a call I didn’t know I’d been waiting for and I erupted with,
“I sure do!!!” – With James 1:5 and 1 Timothy 6:18 fueling every syllable of my response!
She told me that I now needed to talk with her supervisor, because as they are going through the program they’re promoted to more responsibilities. Missy has not be there longer enough to take monetary transaction information, so we said our goodbyes … but not until I told her this:
“When you leave Teen Challenge and go home, please keep my cell number because I would love for you to contact me again so Rip and I can come see you.” (During the course of our phone chat we shared much more than what I’m including in this blog…we formed a little bond.)
She assured me that she would! Then, Ms. Susan came on the line. As she was taking my info, I asked her if there was a way that I could keep up with Missy, hear how she is doing, etc. She said, “Well, if you wanted to be a monthly contributor to our Ministry, then Missy could call you each month before your contribution is withdrawn from your account and y’all could visit then?” Oh, the thought of keeping up with her for the next 15 months THRILLED ME!! And again, … “be generous, Lisa” kept going through my mind. “Be generous in giving.” So, I asked Susan to set us up for a specific monthly contribution and not just a one time donation.” She did and she said, “Now each month, Mrs. Rippy, 4-5 days before the withdrawal from your bank account, Missy will give you a call just to remind you and that is when you two can visit.”
The excitement and joy in me was overwhelming! To be able to give to Teen Challenge wasn’t an idea I conjured up on my own. Oh, no…it was God bringing to me, “Here is one way, Lisa. Give generously. Sow generously.” Missy’s call was what I’d been waiting for and didn’t even know it!
I didn’t doubt it for a second that Missy reaching out to me was God at work. He knew that Teen Challenge is a ministry that brings Him great glory! But it is also a ministry that has been affected by this virus. They have needs. He also knew my personal “heart” for this ministry. Why I love it, so!
Yea, God prepared me and giving generously is how He wants us to live…all that He said to me in my Bible and readying me for Missy’s call, it wasn’t all just for Missy. No, all the verses He had me to read, meditate on and believe was in preparation for ….
a call I didn’t know I’d been waiting for.
A call on my life.
A call to give.
A call to be a giver.
A call to be ready in being generous when He provides the opportunity.
A call to trust Him with all the giving opportunities He’d bring my way.
A call to trust Him in a much higher and deeper way of practicing my faith.
A call to live generously.
A call to be a source of blessing to others.
A call to give in faith, not surplus.
I had no idea that I had been needing such a call on my life! I had no idea, (but my Father did), that down deep inside I had actually been waiting for “this” area of growth in my faith. God knows where and when to grow us. He knows what our heart and life is waiting for in taking us deeper in our relationship with Him. Yes, God readied me for that time with Missy. And as I hung up the phone that day, I grabbed my journal and saw how for days, for several days, in my time with Him and in my spirit that God had been preparing me – not just for that day, not just for that moment – He had been preparing me and speaking to me about answering …
a call I didn’t know I’d been waiting for.
*The actual names and locations of the Teen Challenge participants in this post have been protected by using alternative names and states.