Like Gideon, I lay down a fleece – in the form of a prayer blanket. And God used my weakness to display His mighty power.
When God calls us to do His bidding, sometimes all He asks is for us to stand in the front row and watch Him at work. And then there are times that doing His bidding feels like stepping on to a magic carpet empowered by the winds of His spirit, as He takes us for the ride of our life and uses us to do things we could never make up for a fiction novel. All we have to do is hang on.
I wonder if that’s how Gideon felt.
God asked Gideon to deliver his people from the Midianites. Needing the assurance that God was in this thing, Gideon asked for the impossible. He lay out a woolen fleece. If God was in this impossible venture, the ground would be wet and the fleece would be dry. Not satisfied with a possible coincidence, he asked the next day that the fleece be wet and the ground dry. God accommodated both times, then led Gideon to gather 300 men to watch the Midianites run away from torches and trumpets.
I know that’s how I have felt this past week.
As I mentioned in my last blog, the mother of two boys in our youth group passed away on a Friday. Sunday, our church members stood in quiet circles, wondering what we could do. We felt helpless, so wanting to reach out to these two orphans.
We don’t hardly ever have overnight guests. And we haven’t seen Pam and Bryan for over three years. But they were at our house that weekend. When we came home from church, Pam said to me, “I have an idea of what you can do for those two boys. I was going to suggest you and I make this prayer blanket for (a former college professor who has been quite ill). You could learn how then teach your ladies how to do it.”
I agreed but inside I was panicking. I wanted to do something for Dr. D. and for the two boys but sewing is not my forte. In fact, it is my pianissimo. Ask me to bake cookies or write a poem. I can do that. But put a pair of scissors in my hand and I become armed, dangerous and klutzy.
But we put the blanket together that night. She cut and I tied the knots in soft fleecy fabric that was covered with a pattern of wise and whimsical owls. And we had a delighted evening talking about our memories of classes with Dr. D. and praying for her health.
Pam left the next morning, still encouraging me to repeat the project with the ladies at our church. Okay, Pam, you proved I can do this blanket thing, but teach others? I’m just not good at crafts. I also don’t drive and the nearest fabric store is 35 miles away. This is impossible.From the sounds of the phone calls my minister/husband was fielding, our week and weekend was filling up fast with two funerals and a large wedding. At this rate, I would be lucky to squeeze in a trip to the local small food market in our rural town.
Finally Jack sat down. “What shopping do you need to do? Let’s get it done now before you and I have to go to Men’s and Women’s Fellowship meetings tonight. Even if you need to go to town, I’ll take you.” I didn’t even have to ask.
All the way to the big city, I prayed that God would help me find just the right fleece material that would fit the interests of the two boys. As soon as I found the display of fleece, two bolts immediately caught my attention. Perfect.
At this point, my fleecy magic carpet was dancing at highway speeds. The plans for our women’s fellowship was a potluck supper and a DVD. On the off chance that women might actually agree to a change of plans, I gathered sewing supplies and prayed a few more times. “I have no clue of what I’m doing or how they’ll react,” I told God. “But so far, You have shown me that You are in this, so You will just have to keep showing me where You want this project to go.”
After we ate, I told the ladies about my idea for the throws. “We can do this tonight, or we can choose a later date to work on it, or if you don’t think this is a good idea, we don’t have to do it at all.”
I was blathering. I know, a little lack of confidence there. If they said no, what would I do with four yards of fleece? I felt bad about springing a project on them. I pride myself on my organizational ability and my advanced planning. I am not an impulsive person. And I didn’t want to look like a bossy person that was manipulating the group to do my idea.
I needn’t have worried. After all, God was still in the driver’s seat.
The room fell silent. Finally one woman said, “We can’t wait. Those boys need comfort now.” With no more discussion, the women cleared our dinner away and spread out the fabric. In spite of my clumsy directions and a bit of trial and error, they divided themselves into two groups and organized an assembly line of cutters and knotters. Soon, we had finished two beautiful fleece throws. It was a holy huddle that held those two prayer blankets and prayed that God might wrap his love around two young men and keep them comforted and strong.
At one point, one woman asked how much I had paid for the fleece. “Don’t worry about it,” I answered. It didn’t matter. The money just didn’t matter. I was so overwhelmed at what I had seen God accomplish in just 24 hours. Any money I spent seemed so insignificant in light of doing something to bless these children. But by evening’s end. $30 had been pressed into my hands. My bill was $31 and change.
We still talk about God’s timing. Pam, the one who had the original idea, was there the very weekend we needed an idea of how we could minsiter. I had the free time to buy the fleece that Monday. Our women’s meeting was that night. Just the right number of women attended the meeting, not too many that no one couldn’t help but enough to get the job done in an evening.
How did the boys react when they received the blankets? Like typical preteen boys. But their reaction isn’t the point. We knew we were faithful to what God had called us to do. We knew that if God had started this project, He would continue to use those blankets in His own way. We had witnessed His presence and His leading. What He did in our lives was enough for us.
“What shall we do next month,” I asked the group at the end.
One lady’s response caused me to bow in worship of the Great God who had invited us to join Him in His work and to appreciate the special women I worked with. They got it. They understood Who was really in charge of the prayer blanket project.
“Watch our DVD.” She paused and smiled. “Unless God brings another project our way.”
Set out your fleece and watch God at work!