“DANGER!” “WATCH OUT!” “MOVE TO THE RIGHT LANE!” “GO!” “NOW!” I heard these alarming and insistent messages in a ‘still small voice’ in my mind! I hesitated, because I didn’t see a need to change lanes right then, but I did. As my left rear tire cleared the white line into a new lane, I heard terribly loud sounds of screeching. Looking back, I watched horrified as a speeding maroon-colored SUV, crowded with six teenagers, slammed into a car right next to my lane. Their car crashed into the exact same spot, where my car had been five seconds ago. Wow! I was so glad I had listened to that still small voice and changed lanes. THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME!
Now, in a new lane, I sat paralyzed with shock, as I looked around to get my bearings. Although the cars were totally wrecked, with extensive damage, thankfully, all of the people had escaped serious injuries.
I was shaken and needed to regain my calm, so I could drive to the school where I taught. Glancing around for a distinct change of scene, I noticed an attractive store on my right, full of beautiful and expensive grandfather clocks. Over the door was a giant sign that said: Now is the Time. In the window, center stage, stood a tall, beautiful, and stately Howard Miller Grandfather Clock. I sat there, imagining that I could hear the melodic Westminster chimes, and also that I actually owned this magnificent clock. New thoughts produced a restorative effect, so I drove very carefully to school.
Later in the day, a teacher came in to my classroom, and said, “There’s a Creative Teaching Ideas” competition, and you should enter.” “No way; I’m not creative!” Then, I remembered that I had thought if I could earn some extra money, I would send it to my friend Anna, who was a missionary in a foreign country. I realized then that there was a monetary prize involved, and if I could win, this would be the answer. So, I decided to enter the contest. I wrote about the challenges of teaching and some unusual teaching ideas which had been successful in my classroom.
I promptly forgot about having entered the contest, so weeks later, when I was informed that I was one of the winners, it was a total shock. Since there was a monetary prize for each of the winners, in that split second, I thought about the clock. This award check was for the exact amount of the magnificent Howard Miller grandfather clock that I had so admired. Now, I would buy it! I could already see its’ beauty in my home, and hear it striking melodiously. What a treat that would be!
Then, I had an immediate flash-back in time and remembered the guidance I had received and my motivation for entering the contest in the first place. I had planned to send the award money to a missionary, who was steadfastly serving in a foreign country. My friend, Anna, had sacrificed everything in order to take Bibles into this country, risking imprisonment, yet persevering and witnessing to the lost. I had become invested in her ministry for some time, but it took all of the various donations for her to simply live. Her ‘salary’ was minimal, and there were no extras for her. I was happy I had this opportunity.
Later, when I received the check from the district, I wrote Anna a letter and included a check for the full amount of the prize money. The next day, I drove straight to the church, so they could mail it to her, with the other donations. Driving past the store, I didn’t even glance at the clock. I knew it was standing there, center stage in the window, and I knew it would have been a welcome addition to our home. However, the message Now is the Time was really not about gaining a grandfather clock; instead, it was about blessing an ongoing and dedicated missionary.
Months went by and I didn’t hear back from my friend for a long time, but one day there was a letter in my mailbox. When I opened it, Anna told how she had gone to a prayer meeting and told her missionary friends that it was getting really hard for her to get down on the floor to cook a meal. She desperately needed a stove that stood tall and upright. She didn’t have extra money to buy the stove that would solve her problems. All of the group prayed for a solution to the problem.
She was surprised the very next day, when the check arrived with my note, which said she did not have to account to anyone for the money. She was free to spend it on whatever she wanted. Anna told me, in her letter, that she had run down to the store, but she was afraid the stove would cost more money than she had. She was amazed, and it was a true miracle, but the price tag named the exact amount that was sent to her. Now was the time, so she quickly bought the stove and took it home to her family, rejoicing. I was so happy when I read her letter of how the small gift had resulted in help for her and her family.
This small gift, awarded in the USA, set off a continuous chain reaction, to work a miracle for a missionary, across an ocean. The prize money was given to me to pass on and encourage her to know that God still knew her address. Her ongoing gift to Him was to invest her life in witnessing and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a foreign land. As always, His gift to her was to acknowledge her personal sacrifices and provide for even the smallest, yet most essential needs in her life. Clearly, now was the time for an upright stove!
Through the years, I have treasured and honored that ‘still small voice’. And, what happened, as a result of listening, enabled amazing and comprehensive multi-faceted blessings to occur.
This contest enabled many gifts to be shared: one of them was the fun mental challenge to clearly document, validate, and explicate what had worked, when teaching, in order to motivate our great inner-city kids. That was truly a labor of love, writing about our experiences as a class.
Then, as a result of entering and winning, I was able to bless a Christian missionary, in a foreign land, with a check for an upright cook stove.
Other gifts resulted when we were told that a Creative Ideas National Convention and later on, a Press Conference, would be held for the winners from all over the U. S. A. The Convention was to be held in Washington, D. C. There would also be tours given of all the city had to offer. At that point, I was questioning why they were telling us this. When it was explained that they wanted me to be a representative, I was happy to comply. The district offered to pay for our plane fare, meals, and hotel expenses, including my husband’s expenses, so he could accompany me. We were there for two weeks. I greatly enjoyed representing the district in the meetings, and we both loved learning about our nation’s capital, Washington, D. C.
It’s true that my treasured memories, in terms of value received from the trip, far exceeded the small monetary amount of the donations that were sent to the foreign ministry. And it was wonderful to be part of the adventure and chain reaction that occurred to bless so many lives.
The most beneficial manifestation and ongoing gift, of this exciting adventure, was that when my students learned of the prizes, trips, and adventures, they were even more invested in learning about educational and rewarding opportunities for them. This provided teachers more ways to ‘harness that interest’ and use diverse mnemonic strategies and proven techniques to enhance learning, retention, application. Students became empowered with enthusiasm, strength, and determination as they became committed to learning more, working actively for, and then, forging each one’s own bright and successful destiny!
“After the earthquake a fire, but The Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” I Kings 19:12 NKJ Version, Holy Bible
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from The Father of lights with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.” James 1:17 King James Version, Holy Bible.