While I Was Still Speaking

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." Proverbs 25:25

After three and a half years of living in the Congo (called Zaire at the time), we were now just weeks away from leaving to go home to our family in the United States. Our excitement was palpable. Everyday I would mentally mark off another day until the MAF plane landed on our airstrip to take us to the capital city of Kinshasa, the first stop back to the States.

(Leaving Nkara-Ewa for furlough, 1982)

There was just one catch: I had to finish my correspondence schoolwork before we left. What made this a problem for me was that we had entirely run out of the acceptable lined paper that my school demanded my work be completed on. My mom helped guide me to finish everything that could be done without the lined paper I needed so much. I know that it sounds unbelievable, but there was no lined paper to be found anywhere. We lived 420 miles outside of the capital city in the middle of the bush. There was no Target or office supply store to drive to and purchase the paper. I just did not have access to what I needed.

We had no television to watch for distraction in the evenings. Instead, we kids would all congregate in Dad and Mom's room for the three hours of electricity a night that our gas generator provided. We would read, do our homework, talk, and always pray before each of us four kids went to our bedrooms for the night. Mom and I started praying in earnest for my need for the specific kind of paper that was required to finish my schoolwork requirements.

One day during the wait, we were told over the short-wave radio that connected us with the outside English-speaking world that a package from the United States was on its way to us. We could not wait to open it, especially when we saw that it was from my parents' dear pastor friend, Bobby Douglas. We tore off the brown paper the package was wrapped in. There, laying at the very top of the box, was a thick pack of the exact lined paper that I needed. I know that it sounds silly, but my eyes filled with tears when I saw the answer to my prayer request laying right there in front of me. God makes everyday moments become miraculous when He shows up right where we are in the middle of our need. Perhaps Pastor Douglas and his wonderful wife, Cynthia, had no idea how God would use a package of lined paper to impress on a thirteen-year-old girl in the middle of nowhere the truth of this verse:

"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

That package had been put in the mail ten weeks before. My mom and I had started praying for paper two weeks after it had left the States. But the need had already been anticipated by my God who had put it on the hearts of the Douglas's to include, perhaps as an afterthought, a package of lined notebook paper as the last item on top of the box before they sealed it up and sent it off to us. This I do know. We had never communicated to them our need for paper. Does our great God care about the littlest thing that concerns us? You bet He does!

There are times in the waiting on God that we are convinced we are being deprived or that we are being treated unfairly. Lack is not always a bad thing, a thought that is so contrary to our culture's demand for instant gratification. How thankful would I have been for that paper had I not experienced a need in my life? I would have missed out on a profound spiritual lesson without the awareness of the lack.

I came into my parents' bedroom that same evening to work on my report using my new paper. With shining eyes, I looked up from my work and said,

"Mom, have you ever seen anything as beautiful as a fresh sheet of paper?"

She and I grinned like we had just discovered the greatest Wonder of the universe. Guess what? We had.

Jesus, I do not know You as You know me. Your love and concern for Your own is so complete that You take care of our needs before we even call on You. Comfort me with that thought as I wait to see the truth revealed again that while I am still speaking You will hear me!