Sunday, October 21, 2018

Connect the Dots

A game you might have played as a child was “connect the dots.” Like the picture shown in this article, you drew lines to various dots in numerical order. Often you didn’t know what the picture looked like until almost all the dots were connected.

Our Christian walk can be like playing connect the dots. The Lord leads us to do things that we sometimes don’t understand why. Often His purpose is revealed while He’s “connecting the dots.” Many times it takes a step of faith to get the process started. In his book “It’s Your Move”, Kenneth W. Hagin compares divine guidance to a chess game. When we make a move, then God makes a move. We continue taking turns until the big picture comes together. 

There are many stories I could share illustrating this truth but will focus on one that happened during the summer of 2002. While staying at a missionary house in Tampa, Florida, I perceived the Lord wanted me to travel to San Antonio, Texas. At the time, I didn't know anybody there. Nevertheless, I started packing and preparing for this trip. Then on a Wednesday, someone at the missionary house gave me $75 saying this was for my bus ticket to San Antonio. However, the Lord directed me to leave Tampa the following Saturday. The money would be enough only if I buy a bus ticket seven days in advance. Since it was too late for me to do so, I had to trust God for additional finances. Without me asking anyone for money, an additional $73 manifested. I bought my bus ticket and was on my way out west. 

To help break up a very long bus ride, I made an extended stop in Mobile, Alabama. There I spent time with a realtor I met online just a few weeks before. After Bonnie took me out to lunch and blessed me with $100, Bonnie drove me to one of her vacant apartments where I got to spend the next three nights. From there I tried calling an acquaintance who had just gone to San Antonio and suggested staying at the same house she was at. I found out my friend had already left town and perceived the door was not open for me to stay at that house.

The next morning, I struck up a conversation with a man painting Bonnie's house. As we talked, Eddie mentioned he had a brother who’s in the ministry and lives in San Antonio. I hadn't yet said a word to Eddie about going to San Antonio. Eddie soon called this minister who’s a military chaplain and offered to arrange for me to stay in a guest room at Lackland Air Force Base. At $18/night, I had enough money for five nights. My remaining $10 was sent to a ministry as my tithe. For the next four nights, I survived on free coffee, hot chocolate, and popcorn that the commissary provided.

Sunday was my last full day at Lackland. That morning I went to a church service on the base where a chaplain bought one of my “Evangelism 101” books I had with me. Then I stopped at the commissary to buy some food. There I ministered salvation to a woman working behind the counter. Ruth was so grateful for the prayer, she told me to get more food and offered to pay for it herself.

The next day I only had $1.45 on me. Since I did not have enough money for a taxi, I had an intense workout dragging my suitcase plus carrying my backpack and gym bag several blocks off the base. Just before I reached a bus stop, a man in a pickup truck asked if I needed a ride. He drove me to a parking lot, from which I rode the bus downtown. While hanging around the Greyhound station trusting God to open a door somewhere, I saw a woman wearing a “Jesus” T-shirt. Ann and I talked for about 25 minutes. Without her knowing anything about my financial situation, Ann gave me $2 and encouraged me to “live by faith.” She also asked for prayer. When I laid my hand on her, Ann said she felt a strong anointing from me. I did not feel a thing!

I spent the whole night at the bus station listening to screaming kids and many people talking in Spanish. When daylight came, I was overtired and needed a place to rest. A homeless man I met hours before encouraged me to follow him to a soup kitchen. There a woman gave me a list of shelters to contact. Initially, I dreaded the idea of staying at a place like that but decided to treat it as another faith adventure. 

That night I stayed at the Salvation Army. Although it was very uncomfortable with the lack of privacy and the profanity spoken by many of the guests there, I led four people to the Lord plus had other interesting divine appointments. One man told me he constantly had visions of himself passing out tracts in front of The Alamo. I gave him some tracts and said, “Go fulfill the vision.” 

The next morning I searched for a different place to stay. On the list of shelters given to me, two were in churches but charged $10/night to rent a bunk bed. Nevertheless, I walked over to one of them. When the caretaker found out I was an evangelist, he offered to let me stay for as long as I wanted in exchange for one of my books (and would later bless me with money a couple times). For the next two weeks, I ministered on the streets of San Antonio.

Then one morning I took a bus to Cornerstone Church to get a tour of John Hagee Ministries. There I had a lengthy conversation with an employee who bought a copy of my book. After my tour, I was praying in the chapel at Cornerstone Church when “5:00” kept coming up in my spirit. Since there was a Greyhound Bus that left San Antonio at 5:00, I thought maybe that’s when I would be leaving town. By late afternoon, I still didn’t have enough money to leave San Antonio. So I stopped at a downtown church that previously made copies of my gospel tract. To my surprise, the receptionist there offered to give me money. Since I needed it in cash, I had to wait until 5:00 when she got off work and could go to her bank. She later handed me $54. With the $7 I already had in my wallet, I now had $61 on me. 

Suddenly, I realized I had the finances to leave San Antonio. Bonnie in Alabama had e-mailed me days before saying she felt led to give me another $50 but hadn’t sent it yet. Bonnie was also leaving with her father for Pennsylvania the following Saturday and offered to drop me off in Virginia if I could find a way to Alabama in time. $111 was the exact fare needed for a one-way bus ticket from San Antonio to Mobile. So I called Bonnie who offered to buy the ticket for me in Mobile. I later received the ticket at the San Antonio Greyhound station. The next day Bonnie met me in Mobile where I reimbursed her $61. Two days later, I was dropped off in Ashland, Virginia. 

Want to have an adventurous life of faith? Let the Lord guide you as He connects the dots!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” - Proverbs 3:5-6

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