Span the decades with me and let’s connect the dots. “Living life” is just a way of saying we’re juggling good times, rough patches, distractions, and many responsibilities. And as a result we may be unable to recognize some event or situation as a divine setup from God. Perhaps His perfectly laid out plans were so far apart that we didn’t recognize how they were connected. But with some reflection, God’s divine setups become more evident. During my middle and teen years something happened like this. I hope you will be inspired to reflect on your past after I share with you a part of mine. And I hope you see clearly, maybe even for the first time, where the hand of God manipulated the events in your life.
I went from the “Haves” to the “Have-nots” overnight. Like so many, I suffered the effects of my parent’s divorce at the early age of eleven. What may be different, though, is that this divorce occurred in California in 1974 when divorce was granted in only six weeks and no determination of fault was necessary.
In six weeks my mom moved me and my three brothers 3000 miles to North Carolina. I entered into a new school, and went from living in a comfortable home in a beautiful subdivision to an apartment. It was a new world for me. One that was very different than I’d experienced… at least from an eleven year old’s perspective.
Mom knew that finding a good church would take top priority. And within months, mom found one. Although it was a large church, it felt intimate and people knew each other. On one particular Sunday night my pastor greeted me with a huge smile.
“Come to the new sign language class,” he said.
I’d never thought about sign language before, but because the pastor invited me, I went. Mom bought me the sign language book I needed to have. I continued to go every week for a year and became proficient at signing.
“You’re a natural” the deaf would sign to me.
Mom worked hard at her new job but raising a family on her own was difficult and money was always tight. But mom depended on her faith, even sleeping with her Bible on the pillow beside her. We didn’t have much, but in retrospect we had all we needed. Once we had the power cut off but it came back on. And we ate popcorn one Thanksgiving, but we didn’t starve. I knew things were hard, but I loved and trusted God and felt He would take care of me. My praying-Mom was a good example.
Five years later I was a senior in high school and all of my friends were preparing to head to college. Listening to their conversations about the hard decisions they had to make concerning which college to go to, left me disheartened and sad.
With nothing to contribute to the conversation, I often walked away alone, fearful I would be abandoned and friendless. They would move on and find new friends and opportunities. Due to financial constraints, college was not a possibility for me.
At that time college applications were made available in the high school guidance office. I can’t explain where my motivation came from, but I filled out one or two.
Then one beautiful spring day, the university contacted me by phone and I got a huge surprise. What I thought was impossible became possible!
“Debbie, we see that you sign for the deaf. We have deaf students at our college. Would you consider attending our college while at the same time interpreting for the deaf while they attend their own classes? You will be paid for your services. So after your allotted financial aid, you will likely owe very little for college.”
It was truly a divine encounter when my pastor personally invited me to learn sign language as a seventh grader. I had no idea that this class would lead me to possess a talent that would be my ticket to college. But God knew. He knew all along what I needed before I even knew to ask. Five years prior to my need God had already made a way for me.
I think God was smiling from heaven. No, I believe He was laughing out loud when He saw my amazement and joy at His marvelous gift!
Sign language. College. A life changed forever.
Thank you God, for making a way.
I went from a “Have-not” to a “Have” thanks to God’s intervention. Looking back on those years, however, I realize I was a “Have” all along- I had God and He had me in the palm of His hand.
What about you? Do you have a five year story? Now might be a good time to take pen and paper and write down in sequence the important events in your life since childhood.
Did God send a person to you during a particularly hard time? When did the doors open at just the right time? When did they close forcing you to go another direction? When were you out of strength or money and God provided? When were you without hope only to see a new plan? Have you been given a special gift or talent and now you are using it?
Let’s all thank God for the divine setups. He has been here the whole time! Looking at his faithfulness in the past helps us move forward, trusting that God will continue to make a way for us to be in His perfect plan.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
After college, Debbie became a teacher to elementary students for nine years while she earned a graduate degree. Then she worked in higher education for 21 years as the coordinator for the Early Childhood and Elementary Education department.