True Stories of God's Guidance
by Deb Matthews
Welcome! Here's another true Christian story from my collection of things that have really happened to me (including stories about miracles, angels, Civil Air Patrol and God's love and blessings). This is from 1976, about God speaking to my heart about what He wanted me to do, and then following up with confirmation the next day.
Copyright © 2000 by Debra K. Matthews. All rights reserved
My last twelve months in Civil Air Patrol were a constant financial struggle. I had borrowed the money to pay my membership dues the last time, and now it was October again and time to renew.
C.A.P. (pronounced see-ay-pee) had been home and family to me for six years, and the previous renewal, I had decided to do whatever it took to stay in. At the same time though, the year even before that I had become very active in my church, going places with my pastor and his wife, helping them in their ministry in various ways, as well as preaching 'non-denominational' services on C.A.P. weekends.
This last year in the program had been an ongoing battle for me. Thursday nights and many weekends were devoted to costly C.A.P. training exercises. Wednesday and Sunday nights were spent in church. Other weekend times I had to choose between attending C.A.P. activities and participating in an outreach ministry my pastor was doing, including showing the evangelistic film Thief in the Night at high schools and churches all over the Puget Sound area and seeing hundreds of people coming to the Lord as a result.
Watching kids and parents come to a saving knowledge of the Lord and counseling with them on how to stay close to him was about the most awesome thing in the world to me. I had seen it over and over again in my own ministry with the teens in C.A.P., but dividing my time between the two was growing harder and harder.
On top of everything else, I was also going to Bible College during the week, and trying to study under bad conditions at home. My father's drinking and violent outbursts were getting worse, but I couldn't afford to have a place of my own yet.
I knew God was a good provider, but in this past year, he hadn't really been providing for my C.A.P. work. Besides the fact that I had borrowed the money just to pay my dues the last time, the constant activities were draining me financially.
God still continued to bless my work with the youth, as he always blesses the preaching of his word, but at the same time I also felt him nudging me to move on -- a feeling that troubled me greatly.
I remember one night talking with my pastor's wife after an outreach meeting. The three of us had ridden together with the guitarist to a meeting, and now she and I were sitting in the cab of his pickup in front of her home while the musician and pastor unloaded the back of the truck. I'm not sure why we were still sitting there; maybe we were going to go eat or something after they were done, and we had just stopped to get the gear out of the pickup before it started raining.
As we talked, I told her how very hard it would be for me to leave the kids in C.A.P. I remember coming to tears and telling her I wondered who would teach them, who would care and tell them about how much the Lord loved them.
Now, probably a few months after that night, I had only one more meeting at my squadron before my membership ran out, and definitely didn't have the money to renew. Plagued on the one hand with the deep longing to see the kids grow in the Lord, and on the other with the urgent 'stirring' in my heart to work for the Lord in the capacity he seemed to be calling me to, I had reached the end of my indecision.
Tonight I wanted with all of my heart to be exactly where God wanted me to be. It was Saturday night, October 23rd, 1976, and I wanted clear direction from God. I had to have it, and was purposed to stand firm in worship and prayer until I got it.
I started with the usual prayer and singing that I did, first singing praise and then worship songs, and then praying for the various things the Lord brought to my mind in between songs. Then, as the worship grew deeper and I could sense his presence growing more and more close, I turned to the matter at hand -- finding once and for all what it was he was trying to tell me in this situation. I don't remember the exact words, but the prayer went something like this:
"Lord, you know how very much I love you, and I want with all my heart to work for you, and do the things you want me to. I love working with the kids in C.A.P. and watching them grow in you, but I sense you leading me away from that.
"For more than a year, I've felt this uncertainty about staying in C.A.P., as you've gotten me more involved in working with Randy and Bobbie in their ministry, along with the fact that you haven't been providing for me in Civil Air Patrol -- and I know you always provide when I'm doing what you want me to.
"Lord, please help me know what you want me to do. If you want me to stay in C.A.P., I'll give it all I've got and do the best job I know how to do. But if you want me out of it, then please show me so I don't waste another moment in it. I want to be where you want me to be. Please tell me what you want me to do."
As I alternated between worshipping and waiting, a thought suddenly came to me.
I want you to leave C.A.P. and come work for me.
The thought was very clear, but knowing how very much I wanted to work for the Lord, especially in some of the things I was doing at the church, I immediately thought, Oh, that was just me!
I don't know how I expected God to show me about leaving or staying in C.A.P., but I had peace that he would show me somehow. Maybe he would show me through the sermon at church in the morning. I continued singing tenderly to the Lord, and then finally crawled into bed to get some rest.
I don't remember anything about the sermon the next day. Afterwards, I went up to talk to my pastor's wife as I often did. I had no idea if what I was going to ask was proper, but I was pretty desperate and felt there was nothing to lose in asking.
"It's so hard to study at home," I told her. "It's so noisy, and dad is getting so demanding when he's drunk. Is there any way I can come to the church in the evenings and on the weekends and do my Bible College studies here where it's quiet?"
For just a split second, I wasn't sure about the look on her face -- had I asked the wrong thing? Then she said in a slightly surprised tone, "It's funny you should ask that," (she might not have used the word funny but something similar). "Randy wants to ask you to come work for us."
I want you to leave C.A.P. and come work for me. It had been the Lord the night before! It wasn't just me thinking those words after all! He had been trying to tell me that very thing over the last couple of years, and I had at least been going to Bible College to learn; but now he had confirmed it to me in my prayer time, and then again through my pastor and his wife.
On that remaining Thursday night, October 28th, I let my squadron know that I wouldn't be renewing my membership. I talked with the kids pretty late that evening, and one of them -- through an interesting series of events that night -- actually gave his heart to the Lord in a miraculous way (but that's another story!).
Although I really missed them all, and still pray for many of them, God gave me a wonderful peace in leaving C.A.P. and in going to work for him.
And, ... I've been working for him in one way or another ever since!
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Added April 2, 2000