Last week I said that it might be fun for me to share a few pictures of when I traveled, which I also said so often reminds me of a living lesson I would love to share with you. And that if it’s Him, if it’s His plan, it’ll happen easily.
Matthew 11:29-30—“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Well, it seems to have happened.
The moment I finished last week, He’d led me to where I kept my pictures, and I was able to easily gather just a few pictures to share, and I also added short captions for you to read. So before reading my message, please take a moment to look through my Pictures, read the captions— and then come back so I can share a bit more about my experience in Hamamatsu, Japan….
Now that you’ve seen a picture of Sandra and her family, let me share a wonderful story I’ve shared so often with my own children and close friends.
When Sandra heard I’d been invited to travel to Asia with a partner who had offered to pay for the tour (which included 5 Asian countries), Sandra asked if I could come speak at her church. What I had trouble understanding was how she was translating the RYM to Portuguese, but was living in Japan. Then I discovered that a very large Brazilian population lived in this city due to opportunities for work. Sandra’s husband had left her to go work in Japan but after finding RMI and following the RYM, she offered to translate the book. Soon after she told me she was restored and was moving to join her husband where she and her family now live. Of course, I was excited, accepted, and immediately looked to see just how close she lived from my brother—it was right on the way to and from the airport!
As I’d done before, I didn’t “plan” and had no idea what the Lord would ask me to speak about. But what was interesting is that on my way there while traveling on the bullet train, the Lord spoke to me saying I was to take NO money from them. Often a collection is taken up and the speaker either gets all or part of it, yet He was saying, take NO money when offered.
So when I got to the church I made this clear to Sandra and asked that she tell the pastor. I saw him nod his head when she translated what I said and I smiled, nodding my head, and assumed that it was settled. After I spoke, I did see them pass the offering bags, but I didn’t pay too much attention since taking up an offering is customary in every church service. It was later when we were in the pastor’s office and he handed me a huge manila envelope filled with Yen (the Japanese currency) that I realized they had taken up an offering for ME even though I’d explained before I spoke I could not take money from them.
Trying to hand it back, he kept shaking his head no and pushed my hands and the money back towards me, so I turned and gave the envelope to Sandra. I explained to her, again, that He told me to take NO money from them and for them to use it for their church or give it to another charity or ministry they supported.
After a discussion I didn’t understand, she turned to me, asking if they could at least pay for my traveling to Japan. I said it has been paid for. What about the train fare? When I heard the Lord that I could accept, but “only” the amount for the train fare. Then I watched as the pastor and his wife took some bills out and put them into a smaller envelope that she handed to me with a smile. I nodded and thanked them, then sensed something. I turned to Sandra and asked, “Is this only train fare or is there more?” She asked and turned back to me, “There is enough for a meal at the train station too.” So I handed the envelope back and explained I could ONLY take the train fare, nothing more.
As she began translating what I said, while watching her, my head whipped around when I heard a loud very startling gasp coming from the pastor who was weeping uncontrollably. I had no idea what prompted his explosive emotions, even though I’d seen him cry through much of my message that turned out to be about my sister “loving the unloved.”
It took a while but soon he composed himself well enough to explain to Sandra who translated and told me. The pastor confessed that he had believed and spoke often saying that there were “no real Christians” in America. They were all fake, money hungry false prophets. Now, he said, he realized he was so wrong and wanted to repent. He stepped up to hug me, and his wife followed and soon I was wrapped in a huge group hug.
How important is it to follow and listen to the Lord no matter what?
It would have been easier to just graciously accept the money, rationalizing that I had explained and this is when I should be agreeable. I could have blessed many with what I have to assume was quite a lot of money. Yet, I knew then and I know now, whether I am traveling abroad or traveling spiritually along my Restoration Journey—there are too many counting on me to stay in the center of the narrow road—to remain safe and also to experience everything He has for me/us.
Just as I was about to share this story with you, the Lord reminded me it’s important that we daily live our lives this way, because as we know we are epistles read by all men—people are watching. People like my five-year-old grandson whose parents are teaching him the importance of obeying.
A few weeks ago Huxley came out of his room only to find the entire dining and living room flooded by water. His mom was next door with me, so he went to the door leading out to the garage. But rather than open it, he heard his dad had the woodcutter going and he knew that he wasn’t allowed to open the door for safety reasons. So he began turning the garage lights on and off over and over again. Thankfully, sensing no one was just playing with the lights, his dad opened the door to see the flooding and was able to get to the washer to adjust the hose that had come loose!
Since this time, we’ve spoken with Huxley so often to praise him when in the company of others for obeying. This little boy didn’t justify what he could have assumed was a circumstance where it would be “okay” to disobey. This proves that no matter what excuse or reason you have, no matter how good it may be, it’s never just “okay” to disobey. And that finding a way TO obey will result in the trial being a favorite chapter of your live’s epistle—one you’ll draw on often and something awe inspiring to share to encourage others.