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HE KNOWS WHAT WE HAVE NEED OF LONG BEFORE WE NEED IT

Posted by admin in August 3rd, 2021
Published in Uncategorized

I just sat there and stared at that piece of paper in the middle of my living room floor. I didn’t have the nerve to pick it up. It looked like an envelope and across the front was a tire mark. No name. No address. No words. Just some dirt and a tire mark. Quite honestly, I was a little scared.

I poured another cup of coffee and sat down to stare a while longer.

I lived alone in the tiny university apartment. Weather stripping on all units had been replaced the month before to save on utilities. That envelope did not blow in under the door. So, how in the world did it get there? And the BIGGER question, What was in it?!?

It all started the day before…

Spring Break had been a huge flop! In fact, it was so bad I decided to return to Tulsa midweek and work on my studies. I was in my final semester of grad school. Everyone that knew me, KNEW I was obsessed with Russia. In fact, painted in bold letters on butcher paper, I had taped a large banner to my wall, “MOSCOW, FALL ’91.” Though I had no idea how I was getting there and I had no connections in Moscow whatsoever—I was convinced God was calling me to that place.

I was home about an hour, unpacking, when the phone rang. It was my professor, Byrene Culver. “Are you free to talk?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered a little apprehensively because I was afraid she had bad news about graduation.

“Do you remember meeting Melody Cockrell in China in 1988?”

I did not.

According to my professor, Melody remembered my obsession with Russia. She taught at my university in Changchun. She was coming as I was leaving. We met briefly. But during her year in China, she met a visiting scholar from Russia named Alex. He was a long way from home and he missed his family. Melody was part of a larger team in the city, and they asked Alex to join them for fellowship and Sunday services. They were Christians teaching English. She and Alex formed a bond.

Well, Alex wrote Melody asking if she would come to Moscow and teach at his wife’s university. She was going on maternity leave, and the university was interested in filling her post with a native-English speaker—but they didn’t know any. The USSR hadn’t fallen yet, but the tight grip of the government was loosening, and new leadership was encouraging universities to host foreign lecturers. Alex thought of Melody. He wrote her with his phone number, asking her to call him so they could discuss her teaching in Moscow. Melody, who had become a lawyer, wasn’t interested, but remembered my obsession. She called Byrene in hopes that Byrene might know where to find me.

Professor Culver said, “At first, I thought she was joking when she asked if I knew you. I told her, ‘Teri Hodges is right here. She’s my student. She’s in Tulsa!’”

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!?

Byrene gave me Alex’s phone number in Moscow and said, “Give him a call. Tell him ‘Melody sent you.’” That was funny.

In 1991, the USSR was totally screwed up. Placing a phone call was impossible back then. Fortunately, I didn’t know that. So, naively, I picked up the phone and dialed Alex’s number. He answered. That may not seem like a big deal, but at the time, IT WAS.

I explained to Alex who I was and my connection to Melody. I told him that I was getting a master’s degree in TESOL and that I wanted very much to teach in Moscow in the fall.

“Melody I know. Melody I can recommend. You? You I don’t know. It is very risky for me to recommend you for my wife’s university. Do you understand me?”

I did. He was right.

“Is it possible for you to come here for an interview, soon? I mean, very soon? I think if the chairwoman meets you, she can offer you the job and my wife and I’ll be safe.”

Without hesitating, I told Alex I’d be there. “I’ll come in May.”

There are few things I’ve done in my life without thinking. This would be one of them. I had no money. I was a poor graduate student teaching part-time to make ends meet. I had no local church and no missions board. I was alone. And probably more foolish than I care to admit.

As soon as I hung up with Alex, I got the phone book (before the internet). I went to the airlines section and the first one I called was American. “Sorry honey. No one flies to Moscow but PanAm, Give them a call.”

I called PanAm and told the agent I wanted to fly to Moscow. “What dates?” Uh… “So, you DO fly to Moscow?”

“Yes. And I don’t know if you heard or not, but we are having a ‘going-out-of-business’ sale. You can fly round trip to any of our destinations in the world for $300!”

It shocked me. Most roundtrip tickets to cities in Europe were about $1,700 or more.

“There’s only one problem,” she continued. “You have to buy the ticket by midnight tonight. This is the last day.”

Now my Dad gave me a credit card that was to be used FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY! He imagined car trouble while I was on the road, or an ER visit where my life hung in the balance. Never in his wildest dreams did my Dad imagine that the emergency credit card would be used to purchase a roundtrip ticket to Moscow. Never.

I pulled out the card and bought the ticket for one week after graduation. It was 10:30 at night and even though I knew my Dad was in bed, I needed to call him and tell him what I’d done. I woke him up and he was none too happy. “What do you mean you bought a ticket to Moscow?” My Dad was not disappointed in me. He wasn’t upset. He was just very angry.

I promised I’d pay him back before the bill arrived. He replied, “Yes. You will.” Click.

How on earth was I going to pay my Dad $300? I went to bed that night looking at my hand-painted banner and I said a simple prayer, “Jesus, please help me.”

The next morning was the Mexican standoff with me and that envelope.

Finally, I got the nerve to pick it up. I opened it and inside were three one-hundred-dollar bills—new and crisp.

I have no idea how that money got there. I called my Dad the next night and told him about the envelope. He simply grunted in disbelief. I wouldn’t have believed it either, if it hadn’t happened to me.

Here’s what I know and here’s what’s important: God is able to provide all that we need right when we need it if we will only step out by faith in obedience to Him and follow Him with reckless abandonment.

I was talking to a young woman recently who asked me about Zacchaeus’s Sycamore tree. She said, “Think about it, long before Zacchaeus was born God knew he would need that tree to find Jesus. Before Zacchaeus ever needed it, God had it ready for him. The tool God used for Zacchaeus to see Jesus was prepared in advance.” What a great word! I’d never thought of it before, but it aligns with Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works—works that He planned in advance for us to walk in.” That also means He provides all that we need to accomplish those good works.

 

I made it to Moscow. I got the contract. And in the Fall of 1991, I was teaching there. I never met Alex and his wife. After the baby was born, she decided not to return to the university. I served there three years. I’m in awe of all the godly people who played a role in my getting to Moscow—Melody’s obedience in tracking me down when she could have just let it slide; Byrene’s obedience in calling me that night, not sure if I was even home during Spring Break. My Dad not killing me for using his “emergency only” credit card. Alex’s desire to get an American instructor for his wife’s university. And the angel who hand delivered the $300 to my living room floor. All things God prepared in advance.

 

What is it God is laying on your heart? What step of faith is He nudging you toward? Be sure, that whatever it is, He will provide EVERYTHING you need to get it done. “My God will provide all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” (Philippines 4:19). Peace.

2 users Responded In This Post

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58851. Cheryl said,
August 4th, 2021 at 8:05 am

Wow! What an amazing demonstration of God’s providential care! I am in fresh awe of Him this morning and so enjoyed reading this right when I needed it most.

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58853. annajane said,
August 4th, 2021 at 8:22 am

What a beautiful illustration of how our Father never fails to provide when He calls. He sees our needs and fills them! And how wonderfully things take shape for the Kingdom when we say, “Yes!” as you have done.

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