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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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God Ain’t Billy Joel!

Posted by admin in October 16th, 2009
Published in obedience, Word of Knowledge

Remember Billy Joel’s 1970’s hit “Just the Way You Are?” I like that song. Don’t go changin’ to try and please me…I love you just the way you are. Pretty. I like it.

Anne Lamott writes in her book Travelling Mercies, “God loves you just the way you are and He loves you too much to leave you that way.” In my life I have often found it difficult to understand the healthy spiritual balance between God’s unmerited grace and acts of holy living. We as Christians are called to live holy lives, but quite honestly I have struggled with that from time to time—especially when I was a single gal. Let me share with you what happened to me once…

The Wagners were an awesome German family who lived across the street from my friend Terri Fleming. Terri was teaching for the U.S. air force base in Dresden, Germany. I was staying with her while traveling around the globe on a missionary journey. The Wagners had two sons, one of which I found very attractive—I mean very “I-want-to-go-out-with-you” attractive. When we first met I got the sense that he was interested as well. And at that first meeting he asked me to go out. I wanted to go out. So I said yes. When he came to pick me up that night he asked me if I wanted to go to a dance club. Now, dance clubs are not in themselves evil. In fact, I know great, godly Christians who can go to a dance club, have a great time and not sin. There are even those radical, wonderful, street-savvy Christians who can go to a dance club and actually do evangelism. I, however, am not one of those people. Dance clubs for me are simply wrong. Going out with a guy who was not a Believer, was also wrong for me. That entire date with Wagner Boy was not only wrong, but for me it was disobedience…okay, call it what it was: sin.

At the end of our date, Wagner Boy asked me if I would like to go out the next day and do some sightseeing. I said yes (!) without a moment’s hesitation. Even though the time at the dance club had given me a pit in my stomach, I still wanted male attention so badly that I was willing to disobey God… AGAIN! Please know that not once in the entire evening, nor during our time together the next day, did I ever mention my faith, my commitment to Christ, or the purpose of my travels ( missions). Not once did I speak the name of Jesus to Wagner Boy.

I’d been in Germany three weeks and I was seeing Wagner Boy on a regular basis. I liked him. He liked me. It felt like I had a boyfriend. An interesting and exotic boyfriend. I so dug his accent.

But, I knew it was time to move on. Like the old Apostle Paul said it, “I was impelled by the Holy Spirit to go…” I needed to go to Brussels. People were waiting on me there. I had plans there. Brussels was on my missionary journey agenda. But I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave Wagner Boy. So I made all kinds of excuses not to head on down the road.

I kept telling myself that I had a good excuse not to go. I was out of cash. No mula. Nada dinero. So whenever I felt the “impelling” to leave Germany and the Wagner Boy, I would simply remind the Lord that I didn’t have the money for the train ticket to Brussels. Period. Settled. Done. And at this time my devotional life was, well, nonexistent. I wasn’t even praying for the train ticket money to come in. I wasn’t reading my Bible, seeking God’s will or even attempting to.

One afternoon, my friend Terri Flemming needed to go to the PX to pick up some stuff from the USA. Terri had PX privileges because even though she was a civilian, she worked at the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS) and that gave her access to the PX. I told her I would ride along with her, but would stay in the van.

Terri was a church-goer, but I wasn’t sure if she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And quite frankly, I was just too busy with Wagner Boy to find out where Terri was spiritually. I had talked to her about it a couple of times, in between my outings with Wagner Boy. (You see, I called them anything but dates because subconsciously I knew dating an unbeliever was wrong.) And Terri always answered my question correctly—but a little too text bookish perhaps. She never said that she was actually “born-again.”

So, I sat there in the van on that beautiful afternoon in Dresden, Germany, waiting for Terri to come out of the PX. I had the doors open and was enjoying the sunshine. I was taking it easy. I saw a woman come out of the PX and she was walking right toward me. She was absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent all American. She was short, had a nice figure and looked like an officer’s wife. I saw her looking at the van and it appeared that she was coming right toward me. I looked around to see who she was staring at as I was trying to figure out what she was doing. She looked like a heat seeking missile and I suddenly felt as if I was her target. She was a woman on a mission. She had no grocery sack in her hands. Her purse was draped over one shoulder and she was walking very fast right toward me and the van.

Sure enough, she was headed straight for me. This fiery woman from Alabama swung the car door all of the way open and so quickly that I almost fell out of the van. I was trying to recover my balance when she asked me, “Are you Teri Hodges?”

I was surprised, a little uncomfortable, but mostly surprised! “Uh,” I stammered, my brow a bit furrowed. “Yes I am.”

“Well, listen here Teri Hodges,” she paused a moment, “Do you know what a Pentecostal is?”

I nodded, “Yes ma’am I do.”

“Well,” she hotly continued, “I am a Pentecostal and we believe that God speaks to people today and one of the ways He does that is through a word of knowledge. Here’s what I mean: You are messing around with sin and you are hanging around with someone you are not supposed to hang around with. Am I right?”

She wasn’t really wanting an answer.

My head was spinning. What had Terri Fleming told this fireball, religious zealot?

“I guess so,” my eyes shifted to the ground and my voice was only a whisper.

“What do you mean, ‘I guess so?’” She was kind of shouting at me.

“ I was in that there PX just shoppin’ around and mindin’ my own business when I saw Terri Fleming. When I saw her I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to go and talk to her; so I did. Terri told me that she had a friend visiting from the States out in the van and immediately the Lord told me to come out here to you and issue you a warning. I just walked out of there and left my cart filled with groceries. Terri didn’t tell me anything but your name; she didn’t tell me any of your business, but the Lord did. You’re gonna fall into sexual sin young lady if you do not stop seeing this young man. And is he a German? Is he even a Christian? ”

Now I was getting a little spooked. I knew the Lord had been convicting me to stop seeing this guy. I knew what the Word said about this type of relationship. I was aware that we were headed for trouble, but for this woman to come marching across the PX parking lot to issue me a direct, how’d she call it, “word of knowledge?” Well, hey, that was a little on the freaky side.

“And here’s another thing: The Lord told me to give you all the money I have on me.” I was wearing a skirt and she told me to spread it out and then she did something amazing. She opened up her wallet and emptied every bill and coin she had in that thing right there onto my lap.

“There!” she said. “I have done my job. Now I suggest you do yours. God bless you and let me pray for you.” She reached inside the van and laid a hand on my shoulder, and not too gently I might add. She prayed a righteous prayer. Gave my shoulder a squeeze and headed back to the PX.

I gathered the money out of the pool of my skirt and stuck it in my purse. Terri came out of the PX and I helped her load groceries into the van.

“Hey did you see my friend Edie? She seemed really eager to meet you. She left her grocery cart and everything just to come out and say hi. Isn’t that funny?”

“Yeah. Really funny,” I said. I hesitated just a moment and then asked, “Say Terri, before we go home would you mind running me by the train station? I think I need to be heading on to Brussels and I want to check the cost and the train schedule.”

Terri agreed and we stopped by the station there in town. I jumped out of the van and ran to the ticket counter.

“Excuse me,” I got the attention of the clerk, “what does a one-way train ticket cost to Brussels, Belgium?”

“Which class would you prefer?” she asked.

“Uh…just the cheapest is fine. I need the cheapest ticket to Brussels.”

The clerk looked up the price and gave me a piece of paper with the cost of the ticket written in German marks. I stepped aside and counted the money Edie had given me in the parking lot. It was the exact amount of the ticket down to the last cent. It covered the entire cost of the ticket. I stepped back to the counter and purchased my ticket for Brussels.

We got back to Terri’s and unloaded groceries. I saw Wagner Boy getting home from work and we waved across the street at each other. As soon as we got things stowed away I went to the room where I had been staying. I knelt down by the bed and began to sob. What kind of missionary am I? I was more concerned about Wagner Boy liking me than I was about his salvation. I wanted him to want me more than I wanted him to have eternal life. I felt like a big fat looser. I was a phony, a jerk and worst of all I was a hypocrite—the thing I hated most in others.

So, yeah, Jesus loves me just the way I am, but He loves me too much to let me stay that way. Scripture is very clear, “You be holy just as I am holy.” God used Edie the firecracker to confront me with my sin. He literally issued me a warning and then He gave me a way out. The Bible says, “There is no temptation that comes to a person that God does not make a way out for that person.” There is grace, but there is also judgment and I think both are good. Judgment holds my feet to the fire, judgment disciplines me, judgment says, “Stop! You’re in danger!” So, in a way judgment is God’s greatest grace in our lives.

A few days later I was headed off to Belgium and on to the next lesson. I wish I could tell you that before I left Dresden I had an incredible conversation with Wagner Boy and gave him the plan of salvation, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was that I realized that I never wanted vanity to get in the way of soul-winning ever again in my life. It just isn’t worth it. And I learned that my actions, my thoughts and my secret desires are all exposed to a holy God who loves me just as I am, but won’t allow me to stay that way. Peace.

5 users Responded In This Post

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257. jalling1 said,
October 16th, 2009 at 9:16 am

Teri, you did it again. You make us think about our every actions. Are they pleasing to man or to God? Thanks for your stories that drive the point home.

Love you my cousin,

Janis

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258. Cuzzin J'Lynn said,
October 16th, 2009 at 11:13 am

Wowwwwwww. Speak to me, and use me too, Lord.

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261. cindy samok said,
October 16th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Wow. That was a good story and a powerful message. I love the way you write.

Take care,

Cindy

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262. Lisa said,
October 17th, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Very convicting — it’s so easy to “tune out” those promptings…we could use a few more Bold Edie’s in our lives!

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263. texas sister said,
October 19th, 2009 at 8:58 am

Oh Father, judge us quickly and sternly when we need it. I am not going to rely on my heart but on You. OUR hearts are deceptive & wicked. Give us the Spirit without measure, pour Him through us and make us an Edie who can’t even finish grocery shopping, since she has no money. She gave it all, don’t let us hold anything back.

Thanks Teri

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