Genesis 33:5: “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the woman and children, and said, who are those with thee? And he said, the children which God has graciously given thy servant.”
Children are a gift from God. He had blessed me to have two wonderful daughters and a good son. When their mother left in 1986 I became a single parent to six, eight, and eleven year old children. My heart grieved for them as they missed their mother. After the Lord saved me, I began to pray for them. One of my prayers that December 1989 was that they would be blessed to have a wonderful Christmas, including spending some precious time with their mother. Shortly thereafter, my children’s mother called and asked if she could have the children a few days. She would get them about four or five days before Christmas and bring them back Christmas day. I readily agreed. She asked if I would drive them halfway. She lived in Atlanta so Dublin was the agreed meeting point.
The children were all excited about this rare visit with their mother. They had not spent much time with her since our separation. I scraped together a few dollars to give to them to spend, we loaded up and headed out.
Well, you should of seen the look of happiness on their faces as they hugged and greeted their mom. She had been such a wonderful mom to our children before. She always made sure they were well fed, clothed, clean, and hugged and loved. She roller-skated with them, read to them..they were her life. Tragically, the Devil can destroy and take away a mother’s concern and love for her children–whether it’s drugs or other methods.
As they drove away, I sat in the car and cried. My tears were a mixture of joy for their happiness of being with their mom and sadness and grief for the losses they had experienced. I loved these children that God had given me and when they hurt, I did too.
What I didn’t tell the children was that I had given them all the money I had. My car’s gas needle showed empty and it was 110 miles back home.
It was Sunday morning about 10:30 a.m. as I began to drive back home. I said, “Lord, I guess I’ll run out of gas within a few miles but I’m trusting you in this situation.” About three miles down the road, I saw a small sign displaying an arrow pointing left to a small country church. The Lord suddenly spoke to me and said, “Go to that church.” I said, “Okay, but I’m not dressed very well (I had on old blue jeans, a tee-shirt and tennis shoes).” The Lord replied, “Go just like you are and don’t even concern yourself about what others may think about your clothing. I know what is in your heart.”
I drove up to that church, got out of my beat up old Toyota and went inside. Services had already started and several heads turned to stare as a badly dressed stranger entered. I sat down on a seat and after a few songs, the preacher preached on the famous faith chapter in the Bible, Hebrews, Chapter 11.
The Lord anointed this pastor as he preached. It seemed as if most of the words he spoke were directed at me. I needed that encouragement at that particular moment! Thank you Jesus! After service, the preacher was led to ask for testimonies. A few dear saints stood up and testified. Their testimonies were very uplifting.
Suddenly the Lord spoke and said, “Irvin, get up and testify.” As I stood, I wiped some of the wrinkles from my blue jeans and began to speak. As the Spirit of the Lord anointed me, every eye in the congregation was on me and every ear was attentive. I told how the Lord has directed my footsteps to that church, how the sermon and testimonies had encouraged me, and how happy I was that my children would be spending a few days with their mom. I asked for prayer. At this request, the Godly pastor asked his little flock to gather around the altar and especially pray that not only my children but other children from broken homes would have a happy Christmas.
After the service, I slowly walked to my Toyota. An elderly woman came up to me, shook my hand, and told me my testimony had touched her heart in a special way. After I withdrew my hand, I looked in my palm and saw the folded five dollar bill she had given me. Gas money to get home! God will provide!
When I got home that Sunday evening, a friend of mine called and asked if I would drive him to a city about 50 miles away. His truck had quit and it was too cold to drive his motorcycle. I said, “Okay, I’ve got to pick up a few pecans to sell to get a few dollars. My children aren’t here so I’m free to go.” He was a nurse and was going to work two 16 hour shifts during Christmas. He said he was renting a hotel room and I could stay there while he was working.
It snowed hard the night before we left. Not only had it snowed, the temperature had dropped and black ice had formed on the roads. As I slowly drove that old Pontiac down those icy roads, we saw many vehicles in the ditch. People in South Georgia are not equipped to drive in these conditions. As I pulled up to an intersection, I applied my brakes to stop. I hit a patch of black ice and said to my unsaved friend, “Brace yourself, we are going to crash.” Sure enough, we did, but the Lord protected us both, only a small dent in the car. We were stuck in the ditch so we went looking for a kind-hearted farmer to pull us out.
Shortly we found one. We asked for help. He pulled on his brogans, walked to the shelter, cranked up his John Deere, and quickly pulled us out. We tried to pay him, but he refused. Thank God for people like this kind farmer.
We arrived safely at the hotel, checked in, then went and got a bite to eat. This was two days before Christmas. I then drove my friend to the nursing home and went back to the hotel and went to sleep.
I woke up early Christmas eve and said, “Lord, I sure would like to go to church this morning. Show me where to go.” I picked up the paper and saw where a church was having an early morning service.
The Lord spoke and said, “Go there.” So I went, and although only about 30 people were there, it was a sweet service. I was blessed by the words spoken about our Savior’s birth. After this was over I said, “Lord, I sure would like to go to Sunday school. Please show me where to go.” Well, the Lord led me on a road out of town and in the country. It surely was beautiful scenery: gently rolling, snowed covered hills, the whiteness and brightness of everything. As I was driving, I thought about Christmas coming up. My friend was going to pay me $50 for driving him. Not much to buy Christmas for my children. While I was thinking about things, the Lord interrupted my thoughts with a command, “Turn left here on this dirt road.” I did and about two miles down that road, I came up to a beautiful little country church sitting on a little hill surrounded by snow covered pine trees. The Lord said, “Here is where I want you to go for Sunday School.”
The parking lot was full of cars, and I felt a warm and peaceful presence about this little place. As I walked in, I was warmly greeted and directed to the right Sunday School class. The people there were friendly and warm-hearted. They made me welcome, and they were genuine, not fake like some places I’ve been. I thought to myself, this is a praying church that God loves.
I didn’t stay for church services because the Lord directed me to go on back to the hotel. I did as He directed. After I had eaten dinner, I went back to the room and laid down to take a nap. Around 2:30 p.m. , the Lord awoke me and said, “Go on over to the nursing home.” I obeyed.
I found my friend and talked with him a few minutes. While we were talking, I heard the sound of singing. I told my friend I was going on down there to listen as they were not only singing Christmas carols, but also singing old hymns.
As I entered the area where the service was being held, I recognized many of the folks conducting the service. They were the ones I had Sunday school with that morning. Nothing was mentioned in the Sunday school class about a nursing home service. They recognized me and invited me to join them. I did as I enjoyed the presence of the Lord.
After the service, I said my goodbyes and walked down the hall to the nurse’s station. In a few minutes, the preacher came up and said, “The Lord told me to give you this check.” It was for $150. I had only asked the Lord for some money so I could buy my children something for Christmas. He tested my faith by ordering my steps. I passed; thank God!
We came back home, and my friend paid me. My children came home late Christmas day. I was so glad to see them! I had missed them so. I told them I didn’t have them much for Christmas, but we were together. Thank you Lord for this wonderful Christmas memory!
Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”