Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 14, Comings and Goings
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
Leave Jesus? Where would we go?
We could never have a richer life;
We could never know a deeper love;
We could never see a greater glory;
We could never belong to a surer kingdom;
We could never possess a nobler purpose;
We could never receive a fuller joy;
We could never hear a higher call;
We could never walk with a truer Friend!
During my years at Bethany there were many comings and goings, including visits from people in Los Angeles to Bethany, and my vacation trips from Bethany to Los Angeles. Char and I also made two return trips to Bethany after our marriage—on our first return I took some make-up courses in order to complete my diploma. This was a result of starting my freshman year at mid-semester. The second time we returned was for a brief orientation before going out with Bethany Missions to Puerto Rico. There were some important lessons to learn during those comings and goings.
On one of my brother’s trips from Los Angeles to Bethany to visit me, he drove alone in his 1958 Chevy Impala. As he worked his way East on Route 66, he drove through a sleepy little town in the Arizona desert. Feeling tired and ready for a good night’s rest he decided to pull into a roadside motel and get a room. He drove up to the main office and registered. After getting his room key, he drove to the parking spot in front of his motel room, got out his suitcase, and walked into his room. It was a little early to go to bed and since the sun had not yet set, he decided to stretch his legs and walk around the grounds of the motel.
As he stepped outside he looked across the parking lot and noticed a neon sign flashing the word “Bar”. The front of the bar faced the main highway, but from his view he could see the side entrance. The door of the side entrance was propped open, apparently to let in the cooling night air. Through the entrance, in plain view, Don could see the bar and barstools. He noticed a few people sitting inside and then his eye focused on a girl sitting alone. In that moment, the tempter of his soul began to interpret the scene for Don.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to be in there right now? You’re tired and thirsty…and alone. You remember how it used to be, don’t you?”
The temptation was alluring, the pull was strong. The thought came again, “Remember how it used to be?”
Don wrestled for a few more moments with the thought and then turned his gaze away from the bar. He returned to his room, locked the door, and went to bed.
The next morning Don got up at a decent hour, had some breakfast and headed back on the road. He drove for a couple of hours and pulled into a gas station to fill up and stretch his legs. As he stood outside his car, a dirty pickup truck pulled up to the opposite side of the gas pump. Out stepped a young man in his early twenties. Don knew the look of someone with a hangover, and this young man had it written all over him. When Don heard the man groan, it took him back to his drinking days and the deep emptiness Don always felt the “morning after”.
It was at that moment that the voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to Don’s heart, “Do you remember how it really was?” Don knew in his heart that he never wanted to go back to those days in his old life again!
After my freshman year I went back to Los Angeles for two weeks vacation before starting my summer work program at Bethany. While visiting my dad I discovered that my little sister, Joy, was having a problem with her eye (my dad had five children through his second marriage—Leeba, Joy, Sarah, Andy, and Hannah, in that order. Joy was around three years old during this visit.)
When I inquired about Joy’s eye problem I found out there was a growth behind her eyelid. The growth had roots that were moving toward the back of her eye, threatening her vision. In order to save her sight in that eye she would need surgery. Before committing her for surgery, my dad wanted to have special prayer for her healing. He had heard about some evangelistic meetings in the area that included prayer for the sick and was planning to take Joy. I gladly responded with a “Yes” when he asked me if I would like to go along.
I had never been to a meeting quite like the one we attended. It was held in a large auditorium that was packed with people. Somehow, the three of us found empty seats near the front. We quickly got settled in and enjoyed a powerful and uplifting service. At the end of the message, the speaker spoke to the audience, “If there is anyone who would like to come forward to receive prayer for healing, please come now.” At that moment I had a strong desire to go forward and bring Joy with me. She was sitting on my dad’s lap. I turned and took her in my arms and walked to the front of the platform. Many others were already there, standing in front of me. I assumed the speaker was going to pray for each person that came for healing and that I would be standing there a long time. The speaker, however, did something completely different.
“Do you believe God can heal you?” he asked.
My heart said, “Yes.”
“If you do,” he continued, “I want you, in faith, to place your hand upon the area of your body that needs healing.”
I placed my hand directly upon Joy’s eyelid.
“I want you to pray a prayer of faith and ask God to bring healing to that place on your body.”
My prayer was short and very simple, “Lord, I ask you to heal Joy’s eye and to dry up, by the roots, the growth that is in her eye.”
After I finished praying I returned to my seat and placed Joy back on my dad’s lap. “I believe God has healed Joy,” I said to my dad after sitting down. He was in agreement and we both rejoiced.
Several weeks later, after returning to Bethany, I checked my mail slot in the Administration Office and found a letter from my dad. It contained some news about home and a brief comment about Joy. It read, “Yesterday we took Joy to the hospital and had the growth behind her eye removed. Everything went well and she is doing fine.” I was crushed when I read those words. I was glad she was doing well, but I could not understand why she needed surgery. I was so confident that God had healed her the night I prayed for her. My faith took a nosedive as I struggled with her need for surgery.
I carried the struggle with me for the entire year. It wasn’t until the following summer, when I was home once again for vacation, that the matter got resolved. It happened during a casual conversation I was having with my dad. One thing led to another and we eventually got on the subject of faith.
“Now that we’re on this subject, I’d like to share something that has been a real problem for me,” I said.
“What is it?” my dad asked.
“Last year, when we took Joy to the evangelistic meeting for prayer, I was confident God had healed her eye when I asked Him to dry up the growth by its roots. When I got your letter a few weeks later telling me about her surgery, I was really disappointed.”
As I finished my comment my dad smiled, “I guess I left out an important detail,” he said, “After you prayed for her, we took her back to the eye doctor to have her checked again. The doctor ran some tests and discovered, to his surprise, that the growth had been completely dried up from the roots. He said we only needed to bring her in for a very minor incision to remove what remained of the growth. When we took her to the hospital, the doctor made a small incision above her eyelid and the growth popped right out.”
When Char and I returned to Bethany we lived in the building that housed married couples. It was a vast improvement from life in the boy’s dorm. One of the amenities was a lounge area that included a sink, cabinets and a refrigerator. The refrigerator was shared by all the couples that lived on our floor. It was very common to open the refrigerator and see jars, cans, juice cartons and a dozen other items marked with a pen that bore the name of the owner. The name on the item meant hands off to any “visitor” looking in the refrigerator for a snack. Even though most items were marked, it didn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t help themselves in a moment of weakness.
Whenever Char and I got a little extra money together we would love to snack on ice cream. The ultimate treat for me was to be able to pour a heaping amount of Hershey's chocolate syrup over a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. The chocolate syrup was hard to come by. When we had money enough to buy some ice cream we usually didn’t have enough to buy the syrup. One day we hit a bonanza, we had gotten a money gift that gave us enough extra cash to go out and buy some vanilla ice cream and a can of Hershey's chocolate syrup. I smiled from ear to ear as I watched the syrup flowing over the scoops of ice cream that sat in my dish after our purchase.
When I finished my delightful snack there was still plenty of syrup left in the can, enough for several more servings. The thought of my Hershey’s syrup sitting in the refrigerator for every greedy eye to see and any lustful hand to grab, caused me to think about another place to store it.
“I must find a spot no one would think of looking.” I thought.
I knew there was no safe hiding place in the refrigerator. I opened some of the cupboard doors above the sink, but couldn’t find a hiding place that satisfied me. Finally, after much seeking, I opened the doors that were below the sink. It was perfect! For one thing it was dark down there; for another thing you had to bend down to see anything; for a third thing there were other objects, such as cleaning supplies, that blocked the view to the back; for a forth thing there were pipes down there that helped block the view even further. After my discovery I returned to my room, secured the precious can of syrup, and walked quietly down the hall to the lounge area. After checking to make sure no one was coming, I got on my knees, opened the door under the sink and carefully placed the can of syrup in a dark corner behind some pipes. I left confident that no one would ever discover my hidden treasure.
Several weeks passed before Char and I had enough money to buy more ice cream. That evening, in full anticipation of a glorious treat, I got our ice cream out of the refrigerator and dished it up. I could visualize the chocolate syrup pouring from the can as I bent down to retrieve the Hershey’s syrup from under the sink.
“I hope no one has discovered my hiding place,” I thought as I reached my hand back into the dark corner behind the pipes.
I smiled as my hand made contact with the can of syrup. My smile was quickly erased when I got the can to eye level. Green mold covered the top of the can. My syrup was ruined. I was heart broken. As I stood there in my sadness a new meaning to a well-known Scripture came to mind…
“Whosoever will save his chocolate syrup shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his chocolate syrup for My sake shall find it.”
One Sunday evening, Char and I were in our room writing letters. When we finished, I gathered the letters together to mail them. I looked in our desk drawer and realized we didn’t have any postage stamps.
“We don’t have any stamps,” I announced, “Do we have enough money on hand to buy a couple?”
She looked in her purse and found a few pennies. We needed a total of ten cents to mail both letters. Postage was five cents for a first class stamp. We kept digging through drawers and looking through pant’s pockets and came up with a grand total of nine cents. The other penny was nowhere to be found.
“I know what I’ll do,” I reasoned, “I’ll go down the hall and borrow a penny from one of my friends. It should be pretty easy to borrow a penny.”
I confidently walked down the hall and came to the door of a friend’s room. As I was about to knock I sensed the Lord say these words to my heart, “Do not borrow the penny. Trust Me for it.”
I kept my hand by my side. Instead of knocking on my friend’s door I turned around and went back to our room. I told Char what had happened. We agreed we would trust the Lord for the other penny. My plan was to take five cents and mail one of the letters, then hold on to the other letter until the needed penny was provided.
It was around 9:00 that same evening when I left our room to visit someone down the hall. When I stepped into the hallway I met a friend who was returning to his room.
“Hi Dennis,” I said, “What’s going on?”
“Oh, I just got back from a trip to Minneapolis.”
I asked him about his trip and we talked back and forth for several minutes.
The entire time I talked with him he was playing with something he held between his fingers. As our conversation came to an end, my curiosity led me to ask him a question, “Dennis, the whole time we’ve been talking I’ve noticed you’ve been playing with something between your fingers. What is it?”
“This?” he replied, “It’s just a penny…here!” At that moment he flipped the penny in the air in my direction. I stuck out my hand and caught it.
I stood there in awe. I walked back to our room, opened the door and stood there with a big smile on my face…I held up the penny between my fingers and exclaimed,
“Look what the Lord just gave us!”
We both stood amazed realizing that God cared enough about us to provide us with a penny.
Our last visit to Bethany was for a brief time of internship as missionary candidates. We were considering joining Bethany Missions and going to Puerto Rico to co-labor with some other Bethany graduates in a Christian bookstore in San Juan. During our internship I was given a temporary work assignment in the shipping department of Bethany House, a publishing division of Bethany Fellowship.
The shipping department was inside a warehouse with no windows. It was a dreary place and the work was not very challenging. Sometimes it was hard to find things to do. To amuse myself I would often take a handheld labeling machine, make up little sayings and stick them on various items around the shipping area. No storage shelf, typewriter, office machine, or counter top could escape my sticky-tape quips. The only challenge I found in this job was seeing how snugly I could pack a box of books.
One afternoon, as I was packing up a book order, I sensed God was asking me a question that required an answer.
“If I asked you to,” I sensed the Lord say, “would you be willing to work here, shipping books for the rest of your life?”
“No.” I answered without hesitation.
A few days later the same question to mind,
“If I asked you to would you be willing to work here, shipping books for the rest of your life?”
My answer was the same.
This time, however, I heard the Lord ask me a different question. “Tell me why?”
I knew the Lord was getting at something deeper within me. I had carried a self-centered ambition to be a great missionary. I wanted to do something for God that was noteworthy and would give me recognition. I wanted people to say, “There goes Roy, the greatest missionary that has ever served.”
I knew that shipping books in a warehouse conflicted with my goals. My struggle lasted for several days. Then, one day at work, the burden I was carrying to be “a celebrated great servant of God” fell from my shoulders. “Lord,” I said, “If your death on the Cross for me, if your resurrection and ascension, if your sending forth of the Holy Spirit, if all my Bible training has been for the purpose of me serving you here in this shipping department, then I say “Yes!” That day Roy Lessin died to his big plans to “be somebody important for Jesus.” I left work with a deep peace in my soul and contentment in my heart. I was a free man!
(Join us next week as we continue this journey of Roy's memoir, Like Those Who Dream. The book is available through DaySpring and Christian retailers everywhere.)
#likethosewhodream #roylessin #memoir #meetinginthemeadow #dayspring
©2022 DaySpring, Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow. Used with permission, all rights reserved.