Like Those Who Dream: Chapters 28 and 29
28: To Lose Is To Gain
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
You will never be in a place where the river of
God’s loving kindness cannot reach you.
The waters of His love will find their way into your wilderness…
The streams of His goodness will flow into your desert place…
The refreshing of His Spirit will turn every trial into a place of praise.
When we arrived in Arkansas, I went through culture shock. Because Char was raised in a small farm community, it was easy for her to make the transition, but I missed many things about the big-city lifestyle. There were no professional sports teams, no fancy restaurants, no large shopping malls, no freeways, and a multitude of other conveniences that were missing. The adjustment was so great I began to wonder if I had made a mistake in moving from Los Angeles. In time, though, I settled in and began to appreciate where I was and what it had to offer.
One of the things that helped me get settled was finding a permanent place to live. We spent many weeks house hunting but couldn’t find anything that fit our list of desired features in a house. On a Saturday, a few hours before I had to leave town on a business trip, I received a phone call from our realtor. “Two houses have just come on the market and I think you should take a look at them.”
“I’m sorry, but I need to leave town soon and only have time to look at one of them.”
Char and I met the realtor at the new listing. As we walked toward the garage, both Char and I knew this was to be our home. As we walked through the interior of the three bedroom house, it had everything that was on our list. The property was on a 2 ½ acre wooded lot with lots of privacy. We decided that day to buy the house at the full asking price. When we came back to view the house again, the owners were home. We introduced ourselves to Bob and Joan. After the friendly introductions I asked them why they had decided to sell their house. “We wanted to live closer to town,” was their reply. Coming from Los Angeles I found this humorous because their house was only one mile from town.
As we continued to visit, Joan asked us a question, “It was quite a surprise for us to sell our house one day after putting it on the market. Bob and I were wondering why you decided to buy it.” We told them about our move to Arkansas and that we had been praying about the house we should buy. When we told them that we believed their house was an answer to prayer, Joan’s face lit up. Our conversation turned to the Lord and we discovered Bob and Joan were believers who were hungry for more of Jesus in their lives. We connected with them immediately and they soon became our closest friends.
of the blessings we received at our house in the woods was when my mother came
to live with us. She had been dealing with a rare disease that was slowly
crippling her hands and she could no longer live on her own in LA. We knew it
would be a big move for her and a big adjustment for us, but we also knew it
was something God had put on our hearts to do. One of the Scriptures that
helped us to prepare the way for her was from Isaiah 54:2 "Enlarge the
place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do
not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.” To make a place
for her we converted our large attached garage into an apartment with a living
room, bedroom, and full sized bathroom. As a final touch we built a deck and a
screened-in porch right outside her front door. She loved it! We were able to
spend 31/2 special years with her before her death.
As I began to adjust to our new way of life I started to enjoy it more. I liked the idea of being centrally located in the country and I thought it would make traveling easier when I was invited to speak in other parts of the country. It didn’t take long to receive speaking invitations. The biggest contributor was the Gideons. When local chapters found out about the story of my dad coming to faith in Christ through a Gideon Bible, I was invited to speak at local meetings in the State. Before long I started receiving invitations to speak at Gideon meetings outside of Arkansas. Although I remained working fulltime at DaySpring I felt that outside speaking opportunities would eventually become my main ministry focus.
In 1981 I was asked to share my testimony at a New Year’s Eve service at the church we were attending. The meeting was in the main sanctuary and the late-night service was well attended. Speaking in public was something that came easily for me and I always considered it one of my strengths. I didn’t get nervous or have any fear of crowds. Giving my testimony was something I had done many times over the years and was one of the easiest speaking assignments I could have.
When I stood before the church that night something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I became uncomfortable and started getting fidgety. As time went on, it became harder for me to speak and I started to lose confidence in my ability to communicate. Instead of looking at the people I started looking at the ground. Insecurity began to settle upon me. It was a great relief for me to come to the end and sit down. When the service was over Char came up to me and asked, “Was something wrong? You didn’t seem like yourself tonight.”
“I know. I can’t explain what happened but it became harder for me to speak.”
I decided to chalk it up to an off night and hoped things would be better the next time I was asked to speak.
A short time later, Char and I went to the Junior High School office to see about getting our son enrolled for the upcoming semester. The details needed to be worked out with the school principal, but when I tried to speak to him my voice became strained. I couldn’t get the words out easily and asked Char to do the rest of the talking. When we got back to the car she couldn’t understand why I wanted her to do the talking. She wasn’t comfortable being the lead person in that type of situation and wondered why I had turned it over to her. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me and it was hard to explain my struggle.
The incident puzzled both of us.
Eventually my voice got weaker and became more strained. I began to lose all confidence in any type of speaking, even talking with family and friends became difficult. When speaking invitations came in I had to turn them down. My life began to radically change. I had always been an outward person and socially minded. Once my voice problem became chronic I started withdrawing from people and kept away from social activities. I desperately started looking for answers. I went to my local doctor, to a specialist, and to the speech department of the University of Arkansas. I sought prayer and counsel, changed my diet, took supplements, and did voice exercises. Nothing helped and nothing changed. After a long and difficult five-year search I finally discovered what was wrong with my voice. I had developed a very rare voice condition known at Spasmodic Dysphonia. There wasn’t a lot known about it, but it had been traced to a nerve problem related to the brain stem. The condition caused the muscles in the vocal cords to become over stimulated, causing the vocal cords to shut down and cut off words during the time of speech. This made speaking extremely difficult and resulted in the voice sounding strained and strangulated. It was a relief for me to find out what was wrong with my voice, but I was saddened to discover there was no cure for the condition. I cried out to the Lord many times for a way of getting free of this problem, but the condition continued. With the door of teaching and preaching closed to me, I sensed the door of writing begin to open wider. My life began to transition from the pulpit to the pen.
29: From Home to the Heart
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
What is a Man
A man is not a stone but bread that has been
Not an impenetrable fortress but a river of kindness and compassion…
Not a tower of steel but a growing tree that provides covering and bends in the storm…
Not a ruler but a servant who humbly seeks the success of others…
Not a sign-post but a guide who leads by example…
Not a sculptor but a gardener who nurtures and provides an atmosphere for growth…
Not a statue but a communicator who speaks from the heart…
A man is not an island but a branch that is totally dependent upon the living God.
Many of the new things I began to write were the result of what the Lord was teaching me in my everyday life. One area that needed to change was the attitude I had about coming home from work. Growing up, I heard and believed that a man’s house was his castle. To me, that meant coming home at the end of the day, sitting in an easy chair, putting up my feet and reading a newspaper while my wife served me a cold glass of lemonade. One day, as I sat in my chair reading the paper, God changed my thinking. “When you come home from a day of work,” I sensed Him say, “I don’t want you to arrive as a king, but as a servant.” My attitude changed. It became clear that the needs of my family were more important than my personal desires. I knew that in the future, when I came through our front door, my time was not my own.
Our experiences as a family provided me with many of the messages that found their way to the products I was creating for DaySpring. One of those experiences came within a few months after we moved into our new home in Arkansas.
A couple we knew from California came to visit us. While I was showing them around Northwest Arkansas, Char decided to surprise me by baking a pie and serving it when we got back home. Char was a wonderful cook and a great baker. She made a fabulous apple crisp, out-of-this-world cream puffs from scratch, yummy cinnamon rolls, and the best tasting chocolate chip cookies in the world. The one dessert she lacked confidence in making was pie. Her pie baking experience that day turned out to be a life-changing moment for her. Here is her account…
I came across some beautiful blueberries at a fruit stand and decided I would surprise Roy (and our guests) by making a delicious pie. I knew pie was Roy’s favorite dessert and even though I didn’t have a lot of confidence in pie making, I wanted to impress him and our guests with my efforts. The whole time I was making the pie I was thinking how happy everyone was going to be that evening as I presented the pie. I knew how proud Roy would be of me. I looked forward to all the praise I was going to receive from Roy and from our guests. After dinner, the moment I had been anticipating arrived. I cut the pie to serve everyone, but as I presented Roy with his piece, he said, “Sorry, hon, I'm just too full; there’s no way I could eat it right now.” I was absolutely shocked! All my effort and anticipation for praise - gone!
In that moment the Holy Spirit showed me my heart, "Char, you made that pie for man. You did not do it as 'unto me'”.
The Lord used the incident to remind me where my peace lies. The principle He showed me was "Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord". I found that the Lord, Himself, is my reward. His presence is my reward as I'm cooking, cleaning or going about my daily routine. The need for praise from others in order to feel secure is no longer needed, because the Lord Himself is filling that place. This truth became a joy in my life, knowing that each day was a ministry in all I did.
Eventually, an opportunity came up at work that allowed me to take what the Lord had taught Char and share it with others...It was called As Unto Me.
As Unto Me
There may be times when others may not notice your efforts or give you recognition for something you’ve done. The credit may even go to someone else. Do it anyway, AS UNTO ME, for I will honor your obedience.
There may be times when you do your very best but still see your labors fail.
You may even sacrifice time or money to help someone and receive no words of appreciation. Do it anyway, AS UNTO ME, for I am your reward.
There may be times when keeping your word means giving up something that you would like to do. You may even find times when keeping a commitment will mean personal sacrifice. Do it anyway, AS UNTO ME, for I will not withhold anything from you that is good.
There may be times when you speak the truth in love to others; only to have your words rejected. You may even do something with good intentions and be completely misunderstood. Do it anyway, AS UNTO ME, for I know your heart.
There may be times when you forgive others; only to have them hurt you again. You may even reach out to bless others only to have them take advantage of your kindness. Do it anyway, AS UNTO ME, for I am your friend.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
The idea to write Continue On came through the request of a co-worker whose wife was a stay-at-home mom…
“My wife has been at home raising our two children and she’s beginning to feel like she is missing out on something by not being in the work place. Is there something you could write that would bring her encouragement? I know it would be mean a lot!”
A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life. She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother. She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. "Is it worth it?" she often wondered. "Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?" It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her Heavenly Father speak to her heart, "You are a wife and a mother because that is what I have called you to be. Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye but I notice. Most of what you give is done without remuneration but I am your reward. Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love. Your children are precious to me, even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to Me. You may never be in the public spotlight but your obedience shines as a bright light before Me. Continue on. Remember you are my servant, do all to please Me"
(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.)
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©2022, Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow. ©2021 DaySpring, used with permission. All rights reserved.