Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
— Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
I love the TV show Touched By An Angel because it always focuses on someone that is going through difficult circumstances. Outwardly, that person appears fine but inwardly is at odds. An angel has been assigned to acknowledge their struggle and often, point the way to a loving Father.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, we can also point the way to Him, and encourage others in our everyday walk.
Dan Rice Days is the culmination of a year’s worth of community planning in Girard. The fair honors “Uncle Sam” (the one in political poster, Uncle Sam Wants You). Uncle Sam, aka Dan Rice, is the wealthy circus clown who lived here in the 1800s.
Like any small town event, the three-day celebration contains everything from face and henna painting to Chinese auctions; booths that promote heart wellness to living with diabetes. Animal rescue services from saving greyhound dogs to stray cats set up camp. Friendly neighborhood leaders that represent the Boy Scouts, or Marching Band don aprons and sell everything from hot dogs and sausages to funnel cakes and candy bars. Stands that promise the best fudge or tastiest ice cream ever are set up along the main street. The fair boasts one cotton candy booth, a kettle corn stand and a trailer selling ice cold lemonade. Food sellers congregate on one side of the town’s main street and craft vendors of all kinds gather on the other side.
Though Dan Rice Days promises something for everyone, the food stalls don’t draw me nearly as much as the craft booths. After a quick look around, I find myself crossing the street and heading over to browse the canvas paintings, macramé tea towel sets and jewelry. God chose to speak to my heart this year through the jewelry stand.
The late afternoon sun shone through the spaces between the canvas tarp overhead as I picked my way through some beaded necklaces. This stall was tucked into a small space near the west end of the crafts set up in Wells Park. It belonged to a rather plump, middle-aged woman with short, dishwater blonde wavy hair. The woman sat sandwiched in between two tables. She wore a sweet smile on her face but nothing seemed remarkable about her–like so many others, until God opens our eyes.
The friend I canvassed the grounds with had a way of drawing people out. She simply asked lots of questions and listened to the answers, which she repeated while asking more questions.
I tuned just as LuAnn said, “I hear ya about the beads! What an accomplishment!”
The bead-maker had had a serious heart operation, and as a result had lost the use of her hands. She needed a lot of therapy afterward but was thrust out of therapy much too soon due to limited insurance. She had not yet regained the use she needed with her hands.
One day, she read an article about stringing beads together. And somehow she realized that by doing this, she would provide her own therapy. I don’t know the details of the article or the hardships she endured to regain her strength. But she continued with this unique therapy until she succeeded.
“What could I do?” she was saying, “Ya gotta go on. I had four mouths to feed. My husband had left me. So I kept on.”
It seemed in time the bead therapy had turned into a passion and all her kids began seeking beads for her to string together. That is how her business began, and flourished! Other positive results came from it as well. Her daughter even took up candle making so she could attend fairs with her.
Over the next few days, I kept finding myself back at this lady’s booth. On the last day of the fair, I felt God nudge my heart. Give her a card thanking her for sharing her story.
Me, God? That’s kind of strange, isn’t it? What if she looks at me like I’m some kind of wack-o?
Go ahead and write her. Thank her.
So I took out a card, and thanked her for blessing me and others she had shared her simple but trusting story with. Then I wrote, “I don’t know if you are a believer or not but your story is full of God’s tender mercies and care for you. You shine His light when you share your story.” I told her how God uses our courage to impact others.
I went right up to the fair before I could chicken out or before she packed up her tent and left. Thank God she was still there when I arrived. “This is for you,” I said, feeling a little foolish. I handed her the card and busied myself with looking at her beaded necklaces. I decided to buy one.
A moment later, she came from behind the table and wrapped me in a big bear hug. “How much this means to me!” she cried, all choked up. “Yes, I am a believer!” Stories tumbled out of her, how only God could meet certain needs in her life, like how when she had no food, He had provided.
My own problems seemed insignificant in comparison. If God could meet every one of the needs in her life, then surely He would do the same with mine. I felt so encouraged!
“What is your name?” I asked.
She pulled the card I gave her close to her heart before she answered. “I’m Carol.”
She rummaged around and found her business card. “I am going to put this beautiful card you gave me in a special place on my shelf to remember you.”
Something about her demeanor led me to believe that she didn’t receive much recognition in her daily walk for all she had accomplished, and yet she faithfully carried on.
“Thank you again for sharing your story with those at your jewelry stand. So glad you came this year! What an encouragement you are!” I repeated.
“You’re not too shabby yourself,” she replied, “spreading your good cheer.”
I paused, so glad that I had followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit earlier that evening. What if I hadn’t? What a blessing I would have missed out on!
God reassures us that He isn’t looking for anyone fancy in His kingdom. He uses regular people to reflect His love in ways that build each other up. He used my friend’s curious nature to bring Carol’s story to light. And I’m so glad He did.
We often imagine God walking the city streets to rescue those in need. But today I am reminded that God walks just as frequently along Main Street in my town and in your town, simply looking for an open heart to obey his call. He’s just a step ahead of us.
Look around you and hear His voice. Touch someone with the love of an angel. And let God work through you.
He is the real spirit-lifter.