53: When God Came Close

53: When God Came Close

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

When God Came Close

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.

~Psalm 142:3

The new position looked too good to pass up, and the move it would require to the beautiful Maine coast didn’t sound too hard to take either. The only question left was, was it the right thing to do?

It was the late summer of 1999. After thirteen years of serving in the same church a short distance from both the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, we started to feel like it might be time for a change. Dale, my pastor husband, was feeling burned out from pastoring a congregation that was growing too large for one pastor but lacked the finances to hire additional staff. Our children were about to enter the sixth and third grades — if we were planning to move any time in the near future, this would be the best time to do it.

So when a feeler came for an interview with a church on the Maine coast, the timing seemed perfect. We made the necessary arrangements and made a mini-vacation out of the trip. We fell in love with the area, the pulpit committee fell in love with Dale, and the kids actually thought they wouldn’t mind attending the little country school we visited. They even began to relish the thought of having such a big yard and barn to play in, along with the possibility of new pets! When the chair of the pulpit committee called a few days later to announce that they would like Dale to be their next pastor, we felt pretty sure our answer would be yes.

Only one thing was missing: reassurance from God that this truly was a new call upon our lives. We decided to take a few days to pray, think, and talk about it before we gave the church in Maine our excited “Yes!”

We visited Dale’s mom for a long weekend. Dale and I took advantage of the Sunday off and the free childcare to attend a worship service in Dale’s old home church. Both of us prayed for God to please give us a sign so we’d know for certain what we should do.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from God during that morning’s worship service, but it certainly didn’t happen. The sermon was dry; the music was uninspiring. As the service ended, both Dale and I stood up to leave feeling disappointed in the whole business.

As we stood next to our pew gathering up our things to leave, a bearded man I’d never met before walked up to us. “Oh Dale, it’s you! I didn’t recognize you from the back of your head.” It was a man Dale hadn’t seen or spoken to in over fifteen years. “I was standing, praying at the back of the church,” he continued, “when I saw a shepherd’s crook appear over your heard, so I knew you were a pastor. God gave me a message for you. He said to tell you that the renewal and revival He wants you to be involved in is not at the coast but in the mountains. And God says He knows you’re tired and He’s going to send a Peter or a Paul to help you. That’s it — I don’t know what it means, but that’s what He wanted me to tell you.” And then the man walked off.

And Dale and I dropped back onto our pew and I started to cry. Not because I didn’t like the words that I had just heard, but because God had come so close in the words of this person who had no way of knowing our situation.

In that instant our choice was clear. We were to stay in the mountains and not move to the coast. We went home and called the little church in Maine to tell them that we would not be coming. In less than a year, God sent a student intern to help Dale out — and believe it or not his name was actually Peter. And we stayed in that church near the mountains for another twelve years — until God made it very clear to us that it was indeed time to go. But that is a story for another day!

~Laurie Carnright Edwards

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