Core scripture: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Message: It was a silly argument. I had left my wallet in my classroom, and my wife was inquiring about it. The tone of my voice was annoyed. Frustrated. Downright disrespectful.
“My heart isn’t right,” I sighed. “I need to get my heart right.”
Taking a deep breath, we continued to drive out to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Legacy Dinner. This was our date night, and Satan was trying to ruin it. I humbled myself, apologized, and led my beautiful wife into the hotel to meet our guests.
The Lord’s presence calmed me. When you’re around Christian friends, things get better. After introducing my wife to my FCA friends and co-workers, our guests began to arrive, giving us more intimate conversations. We enjoyed a delicious meal, fruitful conversation, and of course the speakers.
Hearing Coach Nikki Hoffman and student athlete Kacie Karsak share their testimonies of how God worked in their lives hit home. My roots with their school, Olathe South, run deep. I had met Nikki in the fall when I led a devotion time with the football team in her classroom. I gave Kacie a high five at her FCA huddle meeting this past Thursday morning when I spoke there. My heart was full!
I had shaken Neal Jeffrey’s hand as he walked in. He was the keynote speaker. A graduate of Shawnee Mission South and Baylor University, Neal was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1975. He was the general of all his teams. The quarterback. But there was a slight problem … ever since he could remember, Neal was a stutterer.
How do you call plays when you can barely talk? His high school coach wouldn’t even let him call the play. He would kneel in the huddle, pretending to be important, while another player called the play. Then, after they broke the huddle, Neal smiled behind the center while the running back behind him shouted the cadence. He would always give the defense a quick wink.
You remember Exodus 3-4? Moses pleaded with God to NOT send him to rescue the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses implored, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled” (Exodus 4:10). This Neal Jeffrey was a modern day Moses!
As he ramped up his speech, Neal comically made light of his stuttering problem. Yet there were plenty of moments when the laughter faded to seriousness. He turned left and right, working the audience, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through him. He pointed his finger. He smiled. He shouted! He stuttered on occasion, but it only proved he was human. God was using him in mighty ways, working everything for His good.
What a way to spend an evening! I found it difficult to fall asleep. Partly because our newly adopted foster dog, Blooper, was whining in his kennel, and partly because my adrenaline was still percolating. I drifted off to sleep. That silly argument about the lost wallet was so far behind me.
Upon awaking and giving the Lord my time to get my heart ready for the day, I praised Him for the entire night. God began to speak to me. I obeyed. I sent my friend Terry an encouraging email. I texted my friends, thanking them for attending the FCA Legacy Dinner. I sent an encouraging song, Mandisa’s “Overcomer,” to a neighbor friend in the hospital. I read my FCA Daily Impact Play and read my Bible plan for the day.
The morning was just getting started. After my wife left for work, my boys awoke, and I made them chocolate chip pancakes. I let Christian music fill the air as I started laundry, flipped pancakes, and put dishes away. It gave me purpose and fuel for each task. Finally, I had time to go look for that lost wallet.
Parking my car outside my school building, I walked inside to see my good friend Jeremi. She never takes a day off, and she was utilizing her Saturday to put up posters in the hallway. We chatted about the dinner, FCA, and caught up on life. After looking around my classroom for what seemed to be an eternity, I saw it. There it was! Right on the floor next to my chair. It had been PJ day on Friday, and the wallet slipped out of my pocket.
Thank God! I needed the debit card to get some gas. Rather than hitting 7-11, the closer stop on my way home, I felt a nudge to turn right and go to QT. My home away from home. I pulled in, swiped my card, and began to fuel up. The song from my CD player was still playing in my head. People around me probably thought I was crazy as I continued the song out loud.
Aha, it was good, living with you
Aha, it was good, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
Aha, it was good, living with you
Aha, it was good, ah-ah-ah
Good, good, good, good, good, good
They don’t make music like that anymore. Better Than Ezra. Straight out of 1993. My high school glory days. The song was called “Good,” and that was my mood right then: Good! My pump was halfway done when a white van pulled in two spots away. An African American man dressed in dingy paint clothes got out. His hand went to his back pocket.
“NOOO!” he moaned. “Aw, man!
I waved him over. My debit card was still in my hand.
“Come here!” I said, waving him over. “Did you forget your wallet?”
His eyes met mine. The expression on his face molded from despair to hope. I could see the whites of his eyes open in wonderment.
“Would you let me pay for your gas?” I asked. “Please?”
“Are you sure?” he questioned. “I mean …”
“Sir, it would be my pleasure,” I smiled at him, extending my hand to shake his.
We shook hands and walked over to his car. His name was Don … I think? We introduced ourselves nonetheless, and I swiped my debit card for him. He had been working on a project all morning and needed gas to get back to Leavenworth to see his family. It was an hour long drive. He showed me the hole in the back of his pocket where his wallet must have fallen out.
“You won’t believe this but last week I found a wallet,” Don told me. “The guy was all the way from another town, and I returned it to him on Facebook. He tried to give me $100 but I told him no. Then he insisted and gave it to me.”
“You’re not going to believe this,” I laughed. “I wouldn’t even be here if I had not forgotten MY wallet! I was literally just over at my school, Indian Trail, getting it back this morning. It fell out of my pocket at school yesterday.”
His jaw dropped as I told him the story.
“Don, I think God wanted me here to help you here. This was not a coincidence. This was a divine appointment!” I laughed.
Talk about karma. Talk about timing. God had all this planned out from the get-go! Before it even happened. He allowed Friday to be PJ Day at my school. He let my wallet slip out of the side of my PJ pants. He allowed me time to get to my school this morning. He hung me up a few extra seconds through that conversation with my friend, Jeremi, and down to the last millisecond, He pulled Don’s white van into QT.
It was perfection.
I reached down and showed Don my cross necklace, telling Him that is why I was doing this. I wasn’t doing it to earn extra brownie points to get me to heaven or to look good. I was doing it because I saw a neighbor in need. After all, Mathew 25:45 says, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
Do you want to hear something even more crazy? That exact scripture was planted in my head on Wednesday night at our youth group. Ryan Manring, our phenomenal youth pastor, encouraged us to live that out. God was working even back then!
What a story! This is a story worth sharing. I wonder who God is calling you to share it with? All I know is that I plan on sharing this story. Through my blog. Through word of mouth. Through you all. I will share a more generic version with my students next week. I might even share this story with my grandchildren one day.
God’s timing may be mysterious. It may be out of the ordinary. It might even get you out of your comfort zone a little bit. But God’s timing is always good.
Just like the end of Better Than Ezra’s song …Yeah, that’s right!
Challenge: Who needs to be encouraged with this story? How can you apply this story to your own life? Have your eyes opened to different opportunities where you can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Live out His legacy with reckless abandon!
Song application: It may not be a Christian song, but there was nothing inappropriate about it, and God used it for my good. Check out Better Than Ezra’s “Good” below.
Scripture study: Read Matthew 25:40-45 and journal or discuss the following questions …
- Who in your life is in need?
- How can you reach out to help them?
Giving Opportunity: I received word this week that a family in my school experienced a house fire. Having taught the two oldest girls, my heart aches for what they are experiencing. The gofundme link is below if you would like to contribute.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for His uncanny ability to work everything for our good. Even lost wallets!
- Pray that your eyes will be opened to the needy around you.
- Pray that others will see Jesus through our actions, become curious, and seek Him.
Thank you: Thank you so much to all of you who hopped on the Zoom last Tuesday morning! It was incredible to meet Christian teachers from Georgia, Illinois, and Kansas. So encouraging! I would love to try this again and hopefully get a few more to share ideas.
Just for fun: I shared a quote from Clint Eastwood on Friday. One of my students immediately piped up, “Is he like … your brother?” I paused, realizing her misconception, and laughingly led her through her own thought process.
Me: Does he have the same last name as me?
Student: Uh … no?
Me: Wouldn’t brothers have the same last name?
Student: Yeaaah (slowly getting it).
Me: Would a parent ever name BOTH of their children Clint?
She laughed and ducked her head. Kids these days!
Prayer: Lord of perfect timing, thank you! Thank you for loving us enough to make every step purposeful and every minute we live useful, using it all for your good. Amen.
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