Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 34
Things I’ve Learned Along the Way
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
God’s call upon His people is always to draw nearer, to climb higher, to go deeper, and to follow closer to His heart. This direction has been the motivation behind the ministry the Lord has given me through the years. There are many gifts, many ministries, and many offices that the Lord has placed within the Body of Christ. At times I have looked at the ministry of others and desired to be used in the same way He uses others—I have wanted to preach like a great Evangelist, exhort like a mighty Prophet, lead a church like a caring Pastor, or teach like a scholarly Theologian. Each time I have tried to be like someone else I have fallen flat. When I sense God picking me up off the ground, I also hear Him gently saying to my heart, “I have called you to encourage my people, to comfort them, and to build them up. Stay within the calling I have given you.”
I have come to understand that I have not been given the place of a surgeon, but of a nurse; not the place of someone who blazes a trail, but the place of someone who provides resting places along the way; not the place of an office administrator, but the place of a care-giver.
I recently read a passage of Scripture that reassured me of this calling, “…In accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up” 2 Corinthians 13:10 NASB. That is it! God has given me the authority to build His children up, not to tear them down. When I speak His words of comfort, assurance, care, concern, and encouragement, I do so in full assurance that God has anointed me to clearly and simply speak His heart to others. I believe it is important for each of us to know what it is that God has anointed us to do.
I would like to share some thoughts with you on the life-lessons God has taught me along the way…
When you give, do it in the same way God gives. One day, when my wife and I were sitting at our dining room table, she asked me for $10 to buy something she needed. At that time I wasn’t making a lot of money and we were on a tight budget. Inwardly, I resented her request for $10 even though I knew she needed it. I reached into my back pocket, pulled out my wallet, removed a $10 bill and threw it to her across the table. While it was still in the air, I spoke in a sharp tone, “Here!” The bill no sooner landed on the table when I heard the Lord clearly rebuke me. “The next time you give anyone anything, I want you to give it in the same way that I give things to you.” I knew in that moment that God didn’t want me to “throw” things at people, or give them grudgingly. Instead, He wanted me to give in a caring, thoughtful, joyful, generous way.
Believe God is working out His plan. About a year before terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11, I had received a request from Carol Cymbala, the director of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. She was in the process of writing a song for an upcoming Christmas musical and wanted to use the words I had written on a Christmas card. I gladly gave her my consent, but I had no idea when the song would be released or how it would be used in the musical. The song became the final cut on a Christmas CD called Light of the World. A sample CD was mailed to me a few days before 9/11 and arrived in our mailbox the day after the planes flew into the Twin Towers. The name of the song was “God Is Working Out His Plan.” The song couldn’t have arrived at a better time. The Lord used it to bring my wife and me comfort and reassurance at a critical time. Since then, we have used that little phrase over and over again to remind us that even in the midst of evil God is in control and He truly is “Working Out His Plan!”
God Is Always Working
Rome flexed her mighty hand.
Yet through this pagan empire
God was working out His Plan.
Entered Bethlehem one day…
Though the Inn was filled with people,
God prepared a place of hay.
Were startled by a light—
They didn’t expect a miracle
To happen on that night.
Yes, God is
His purpose to fulfill…
As He worked that Christmas Day
So He is working still.
You will never fully know how God is using your obedience. While thinking about what to write on a sympathy card, I was reminded of the ripples that are created in a lake when a stone falls into the water. That image led me to write a message called The Impact of One Life. A couple of years passed and I never received any comments about the card. Then one day, I received a very moving letter from a mother who had just lost her young son. She told me she had been sent a sympathy card with the message The Impact of One Life. She asked for my permission to have the message engraved on her son’s tombstone. It was the first time I had ever received such a request and it touched me and all of us at DaySpring very deeply. It was a reminder to me that we don’t always know how God is using our obedience for His glory. God may put us in a public place or in a private place. He may put us in contact with a lot of people or with a few. The important thing is not how many people we contact or how public or private our lives are; the important thing is to be where God has placed us, doing what God has called us to do, in a way that pleases Him. God has called us to be faithful to Him and I believe He will always use our faithful obedience in a way that will fulfill His purpose. And sometimes, along the way, God may allow us to see how He has used our obedience to touch the lives of others.
It’s not about “your thing”. I once took a business trip to New York with a close friend. After we checked into our hotel and settled into our room, we began to talk about our business plans for the next day. During the conversation he asked me to do something that didn’t appeal to me. “I really don’t want to do that.” I replied, “That’s not my thing!” His immediate reply was, “Since when are you only supposed to do your own thing?” God used my friend’s wise words to remind me not to limit what God wants to do in my life. Many times, God will ask us to take a step of faith that is beyond our comfort zone. Moses faced that issue when God told him to go to Egypt. In a sense, Moses was telling God, “Send someone else; being your spokesman and leader is not my thing.” He may even have thought, “You know I tried that once and it didn’t work.” God has not called us to do “our thing” but to do His will. He does not ask us what we are good at, He asks us to depend upon what He alone can do.
You can’t walk in God’s freedom and keep unforgiveness in your heart. Keeping unforgiveness inside you is like putting yourself in prison. There is only one way out. You can’t reason your way out, feel your way out, or hope your way out. You can only forgive your way out. Some people say that we must forgive and forget, but forgiving does not mean that we will always forget. When Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive someone, He said, “Seventy times seven.” Obviously, if it’s possible to forgive someone that many times, it must mean that we do remember what they have done. If we understand how to forgive, the memory of what someone did can be a redemptive thing in our lives. When we forgive someone we are releasing that person from our judgment, and making a choice not to hold anything against them. Forgiveness means putting aside our demand for justice. It is hard for us to forgive someone if they have been unfair or unkind. If we have been hurt, we don’t want to release that hurt because we want to get even. Jesus tells us to forgive, not because the person who has offended us deserves forgiveness, but because God has forgiven us. The sin against us is not greater than our own sin against God. Even if we don’t feel like forgiving someone, we can choose to forgive. Someone once hurt me very deeply. I often went to bed thinking about what that person had done. Instead of forgiving that person, I replayed their offence over and over in my mind. I was being held captive by my own thoughts of anger and resentment. It wasn’t until God showed the key of forgiveness, that I was able to get out of prison. I realized that forgiveness was not only saying, “I forgive you” but it also meant I had to take a positive action to bless the one who had offended me. Whenever the person who offended me came to mind, I began to pray for that person. That prayer of blessing moved me away from the thoughts and emotions of bitterness and resentment, and moved my heart into the river of God’s grace and mercy that He extends to me when I sin against him.
You don’t have to have a big title to be greatly used by God. When you work in a corporate setting, people are placed into positions that indicate their status in the company. The higher you are in the organization the more prestigious the title, the greater the responsibility, and the bigger the pay. I am thankful God does not use people for His kingdom based upon their corporate status. I knew a man who worked in the maintenance department of DaySpring for many years. When he started working with the company he was assigned to mow the grass. I can’t say for sure, but the title of “lawn man” must be near the bottom of prestigious job titles given out in the corporate world. This man always did a great job mowing the grass, but he had something else to contribute that was far more valuable to DaySpring and to God’s kingdom. This man cared about people. It wasn’t in his job description, but wherever he would meet people he showed them genuine warmth, friendliness, and concern. He not only talked to them and cared about them, but he also prayed for them and did whatever he could to help if he sensed a need. Eventually, he was promoted to a fulltime position in the maintenance department and worked as a handyman and carpenter. His new job took him into every department in the company and into the lives of many people within the company. He never wore a suit and tie, but he was truly God’s ambassador in blue jeans. I doubt there’s ever been anyone who touched more lives than this man did in the years he worked at DaySpring.
God shouldn’t need to shout to get our attention. The Bible tells us that the Lord thunders (Psalm 29:3). The voice of the Lord is an awesome thing and many who have heard it have trembled at its sound. When I was little, I rarely obeyed the voice of my mother the first time I heard it, especially if she spoke in a quiet tone. I usually didn’t take action until her voice became loud. It was then that I knew she really meant what she was saying and I needed to obey quickly or face the consequences. I am thankful that the normal voice of God to us is a still small voice. He speaks just loud enough and clear enough for us to know it is Him. I love His gentle ways, His quiet assurance, and His words that are softly spoken. When He speaks He means it, and He shouldn’t need to repeat Himself. He wants us to respond to His voice the first time we hear it. The next time we hear God shout, it should be accompanied by the trumpet of God at the return of Jesus Christ.
God is not stingy. When our children were young and we were living in an apartment with the rent at the top of our budget, I decided it would be a good idea to create some house rules to try and save us some money. My plan was to teach everyone in the house how to use the least amount of energy and resources as possible. My instructions would include when to turn off a light and when to put it on, how much hot water to use and how to take a quick shower. As I was about to put my plan into action I sensed the Lord speak something to my heart. “Don’t introduce this to your family. It may save you a little money, but it will change the spirit in your home and bring a spirit of bondage.” That word was something I needed to hear at that time and I am thankful I didn’t move ahead with my plan. It helped me to see the difference between stinginess and good stewardship.
The Difference between Anointing and Talent
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God. 2 Corinthians 1:21 (NKJV)
When someone sings and you are caught up with the beauty of the singer’s voice, that is talent; when someone sings and you are caught up with the beauty of the Lord, that is anointing.
When someone teaches and challenges your mind, that is talent; when someone teaches and challenges your spirit, that is anointing.
When someone writes and stirs your imagination, that is talent; when someone writes and stirs your heart, that is anointing.
When someone speaks and gets you to follow him, that is talent; when someone speaks and gets you to follow Jesus, that is anointing.
When someone counsels you and builds your confidence, that is talent; when someone counsels you and builds your faith, that is anointing.
When someone motivates you to take up a noble cause, that is talent; when someone motivates you to take up your cross, that is anointing.
When you are filled with self-confidence and achieve your goals, that is talent; when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and do the will of God, that is anointing.
When you work hard and receive the applause of men, that is talent; when you remain faithful and receive the approval of God, that is anointing.
Don’t seek praise…you may get it. In the book of Proverbs we read, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21). All of us like to be and need to be encouraged, but receiving praise can be dangerous. During a trip to Branson a few years ago, I walked into a Christian bookstore. As I walked past the main counter I noticed a floor display containing copies of my book Forgiven. I was glad to see it, but didn’t say anything about it to the sales lady that worked there. While I was in the store, the sales lady found out I was the author and became very excited. She walked over to where I was browsing and said, “I’m so happy to meet you. Forgiven is my favorite book.” We had a nice visit for a few minutes and then I left. A few minutes later, while visiting a gift shop next door to the Bible bookstore, two girls walked into the shop carrying copies of Forgiven. With smiling faces, they walked up to me and said, “We heard you were here and wondered if you would autograph our books for us?” I told them I would be happy to do it. While I was signing the books, their excitement continued. I handed them back their signed copies and they warmly thanked me. It was the first time I had experienced anything quite like that in public and I felt a rush of exhilaration. At that very moment, a man who was leaning against the wall close to where I was standing, walked up to me and said, “For five minutes, God has allowed you to taste what it is like to be famous.” He then turned around and left. That five minute taste of fame scared me, not because I didn’t like it, but because I liked it too much. I immediately saw the power and the danger there is in praise and how quickly it can ruin a person. A.W. Tozer wisely said this about receiving praise, “When someone praises you for something you’ve done, don’t insult them by rejecting their comments. Instead, be polite and graciously thank them; while you’re doing it, say in your heart, “Father, it is you they are praising, not me.” Tozer went on to say, “When the donkey carried Jesus into Jerusalem and heard the shouts of “Hosanna” the donkey didn’t think the crowds were talking about him.” That’s a good lesson for each of us to remember the next time we hear praise.
Sometimes we wait upon the Lord to meet a need while He is waiting upon us to obey. In the early days of DaySpring our family was living in a very nice apartment. We had lots of space and the apartment was well furnished. One thing I lacked was a desk. Because our income was small and our budget was tight I didn’t have the extra money to buy a desk. Several times I asked the Lord to provide a desk for me. As part of my petition I would tell the Lord that I needed the desk so I could study. Weeks went by without a desk. One day, while I was reminding the Lord once again about my need for a desk so I could study, I heard the Lord answer in a way I wasn’t expecting…“Study, and I will provide you with a desk.” From that point forward I stopped asking the Lord for a desk and started studying. A few weeks later the desk was provided through a friend, free of charge.
(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.)#memoir #likethosewhodream #meetinginthemeadow #roylessin #roylessinmemoir #cofounderdayspring #dayspring