When God sends Addy a special messenger who challenges her to step from her comfort zone, she isn’t sure she’s up to the job. She feels inadequate to take on the task of encouraging others, and when she starts seeing visions, she worries she’s losing her mind.
Yet, Addy wants only to be used by God, even if that means seeing visions and risking relationships with family and friends. By stepping out on a limb, can Addy really accomplish something significant for God? What affect will her surrender to His will have on those around her? And what affect will it have on her own life?
The sun lit late fall leaves making them more brilliant. No human could create so many hues of orange, red, and yellow. Of course, fall in East Tennessee has always been my favorite season which made my morning walk far from drudgery.
This morning my gaze was drawn to a blue, four-door car parked near my mailbox. I stopped when I noticed the driver looking in my direction. Sunglasses blocked his focus, and a feeling of panic erupted as a pang in my gut. Then, upon closer inspection of the driver, I laughed off the feeling as undue paranoia. Although most of the man’s facial features were hidden by the large size of his glasses, his silvery-gray mane gave his age away. This fact caused me to conclude that the man was probably shopping our mall of eligible widows. Still, I felt relieved as he drove away.
My neighborhood is filled with older residents. Many have lived here their whole lives. This is the home place where the kids and grandkids come on holidays. I’ve seen driveways packed like a parking lot, but only on special days. There are also some younger families with children, and you might hear an occasional squeal or peal of laughter. But, normally, there is never a need to call 911 due to a disturbance. Most houses are completely dark by nine o’clock at night. Each lawn is kept neat and tidy.
There are those who take a daily stroll, but they only require a wave and a simple hello. Sometimes I feel guilty that I can’t call them by name, but they probably like their privacy. In a neighborhood like this, I felt safe enough to allow Elianna to play in the yard as a child and comfortable taking my morning stroll as well.
With the man forgotten, I found myself once again contemplating my husband’s sermon from the day before. My mind wouldn’t let go of the topic: blessings.
Because I’m the pastor’s wife, I know people expect me to know about all things spiritual. I’m sure they assume I could skip Sunday sermons altogether. I don’t need them, right? Wrong! I’m human. I still struggle in my relationship with God. I fail Him. I don’t understand everything. I have to pray and study. In fact, I often feel inadequate to fill the role of a pastor’s wife. Should I know more? Should I be more spiritual? Should I be able to answer any biblical question?
As mentioned in the sermon, I have always sung about counting my blessings. I’ve heard people say, “God bless you.” But, have I really contemplated this topic? Not really. I knew God wanted to teach me something because I couldn’t let it go.
“You know, I’ve heard it told that God has a whole storehouse of blessings to bestow, but many are never received.”
I halted in my tracks, at first wondering if the voice came from inside my head. But, no, a man of medium build stood beside me as if he had been there all along. His eyes glimmered with a most alluring shade of azure akin to the morning sky. His gray-white hair and beard hinted at elderly, yet he appeared quite fit and sprightly.
I hesitated then I extended my hand.
“I’m sorry. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. I’m Addy Townsend.” I was actually “fishing” when I said this. I didn’t know who this man was or where he had come from. He didn’t favor the man I had seen earlier in the car. I definitely had no idea why he had immediately begun to discuss the very topic that buzzed in my head. And in this day and time, should I be running from him?
When he placed his hand in my outstretched one, words failed to express the feeling. As odd as it may sound to even my ears, his touch radiated peace like a warmth that rushed from his hand throughout my body and calmed my restlessness. I sensed no need to flee.
“Nice to meet you, Conrad. I’ve never seen you around here. Have you recently moved into the neighborhood?”
“No, just passing through.”
He began to stroll once again, and I fell into step beside him. It felt familiar, as if I had taken this walk with him on numerous occasions. I started to engage in friendly conversation by commenting on the weather or leaves, but I never had the opportunity. He launched the conversation himself.
“Blessings are often contingent on obedience.”
I contemplated that a moment. I considered what I knew from Scripture about the topic of blessing.
“I suppose you’re right, at least historically speaking. I mean, God promised blessing to the Israelites if they would obey.”
“That’s right, Addy, He did.”
His face beamed as if he were proud I had answered correctly, and I smiled for his words to me brimmed with compliment. The ease of conversation with a stranger surprised me. Normally, I would only engage in such dialogue with those closest to me, and admittedly, possibly not even then.
“There are blessings God gives because He is a gracious God.” Conrad continued. “However, there are blessings He waits to give if only the person will obey or follow His will.”
“Yes, He definitely blesses us with much we don’t deserve.”
“It is His very nature.” He stated this in a most matter-of-fact manner.
“But, if there are blessings we could receive based on obeying or following His will, then what you said must be true—there are blessings we never receive because we aren’t obedient or devoted to following His way.”
He stopped and looked at me. His eyes brimmed with compassion. His expression and posture exuded sorrow. “Yes.” His voice was low, and I thought a tear might emerge for the deep emotion I sensed from him.
Silence ensued. I felt the need to cease the intensity of the moment.
“It’s a shame that we would miss out on God’s blessings. If only we knew what God was up to.”
Now Conrad’s eyes seemed to look to my very soul. My pulse quickened. I bit my lip and began to fidget.
“If you knew the blessings God had in store for others, would you tell them?”
“I suppose I would….yes.”
As the words left my mouth, I knew my tone sounded unsure. I diverted my gaze from his, but my thoughts were still riveted on his question. Would I tell someone if I knew the blessing he or she could obtain? I have trouble just sharing my faith with those around me. In fact, I’m not much of a conversationalist about anything.
“Addy.” The way he said my name was so soothing. There was no condemnation for my unconfident answer to his question.
I looked back at him when he addressed me.
“Addy, you are not alone in lacking confidence. There are many who keep silent when they should speak. Just remember if you are yielded to Him, He will guide you. He will give you the words to say.”
He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Do not fear. You can.”
He then turned and strolled down the street. I wanted to say something, but no words would come, and I realized I had arrived back in front of my house. I glanced once more at Conrad’s back. He appeared smaller and smaller—fading into the colorful scenery. I wanted to wait to see which way he would go but had no time to waste. I needed to jump in the shower.
Sighing heavily, I marched up the porch steps and used my key. The door creaked loudly as it always does. I closed it still thinking about my encounter with Conrad. The whole scenario replayed in my mind as I shed my exercise clothes and stepped into the hot shower. As the warm water ran down my body, I considered the subject of blessing again. Have I missed out on the blessings God has wanted to give me? Have I been disobedient? The answer to both questions was yes.
I supposed this subject of blessing was just the surface of what I needed to learn. I’m not gifted in speaking and don’t open up to people. I know they often see me as cold, uncaring, and maybe even insensitive. This isn’t the case at all. Sharing my faith with others is hard, but it’s not the faith part, it’s the sharing. I’m terrified, to tell you the truth. This is an area I should work on but am afraid of what might happen if I let go and let God work in that area of my life. I’m fine with my husband, daughter, and my best friend, Emily.
Perhaps this phobia came from my childhood. My mother was a quiet, soft-spoken woman—no doubt a woman of faith. My father said all of the words in our house. His words were loud and law. I became more like my mother to avoid conflict.
Applying a little blush to finish my personal morning routine, I shivered at my reflection. How out of character for me to have such an intimate conversation about my faith with a stranger. Yet, Conrad seemed so familiar.
Later, sitting across the breakfast table from my husband and daughter, I knew God had graciously blessed me with much I do not deserve.
After reading in Psychology books how women often marry a man like their father, I vowed a life of singleness. I watched my mother submit to a man that repaid her kindness with a constant negative verbal barrage.
Griffey was literally a Godsend—cliché I know. God made it so clear to me to marry him. I guess the books can be wrong sometimes, because Griffey is nothing like my father.
Elianna was the proverbial icing on the cake. I feared we would have no children, but again God blessed me, giving my precious daughter.
Driving to work later I noticed a man with a sign reading: “Homeless—Will Work for Food.” A lump formed in my throat. I choked down tears and silently thanked God for the home He had provided me as well as the provision of food and necessities. I knew what it meant to be in need. My father left when I was ten, and we never heard from him again. My sister died from leukemia not long after he abandoned us. My mother and I struggled to survive.
Having lived with a man so overbearing, my mother had learned timidity. I would not label her weak. Her faith gave her an inner strength. At an early age, I was required to take the initiative and locate a job that would accommodate our needs but not interfere with school. Suffice it to say, our needs were not always met. I quickly learned what the benevolence ministry of a church does.
I parked my car in my normal spot outside the dental office and paused to thank God yet again for my job. I know many people who have been laid off. Several in our own church are still searching but to no avail.
Work seemed to fly by because counting my blessings gave me a positive attitude. Instead of taking all God had blessed me with for granted, I felt appreciative.
That evening as I slid the meatloaf into the oven, I recalled my morning stroll with Conrad. I hoped to run into him again tomorrow. I wanted to tell him what a difference our conversation on blessing made in my day.