I came home from church alone- the others still in their Bible study classes. I had to eat and zip off to my book signing where my three fans were eagerly awaiting me. But the house was eerily silent. Honeybun greeted me, but her greeting is always quiet. The noisy, whining, barking Lucky was nowhere in sight. I looked in all the rooms, then I went out to the backyard to call him.
Just what I needed an hour before my book signing.... Lucky to escape. I wasn't expecting hordes of people. The paper hadn't done an article on me this time. I was now old news. And even worse, NC State was playing in the NCAA tournament right during my book signing hours. I knew few people would be out looking for inspiring books about how God works in their lives when their team was on television.
"Lucky!" I called out the back door, slamming crackers in my mouth. Grab a quick few hundred calories and go get my sneakers to start prowling the neighborhood for my stupid dog....
And then Lucky came wandering from some corner and nudged the back of my legs as I yelled his name to the squirrels pausing in the unfurling oak branches.
"Where were you?" I asked him, twirling around.
He wagged his tail.
At the book signing, a couple of people stopped by my lonely table and actually asked me about my book. The first woman was an ex-Naval officer. She told me she really loved to read, but she could never put her thoughts in book form and she really admired authors for that reason. So we talked about writing, and as we spoke, I knew she was not at all interested in my book. She was interested in why writers write and how writers write, but not really in what I had written. Still, the store was virtually empty and it was nice to pass the time talking with her. And then all of a sudden, she picked up one of my books and said, "I'm going to get one for my mom. She is the godliest woman I know. She is sweet and kind, and I think she will like this. Will you sign it for her?"
"I would be honored too. I can't think of a better gift from my daughter, however, than to know that she spoke of me as highly as you just spoke of your mother."
"Oh, everyone speaks more highly of their mother behind their backs," laughed the young lady.
Sometime later, a man and his son wandered in, and then came straight to my table.
"We saw the sign outside about your book and just had to come in!" he said.
("A sure sale!" I thought.)
"Tell me about your book," he said.
So I told him it was about God sending me evidence of His presence in often very strange and mysterious ways, how even when I didn't believe in Him, He clearly believed in me, and was watching over me, and gently urging me towards Him. I told of some of the miracles that had at the time seemed strange, but I had not believed then that there really were such things as angels interceding on my behalf.
"But in retrospect, I think now they were. The Bible tells us we will entertain angels unawares, and I think I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of them at times."
He nodded, his son nodded, and they even shared a few of their own miracles they had witnessed. I prepared my pen to sign the many copies of my books that I was sure now they would purchase for themselves and all their friends.
"Well thanks for chatting with us," the man said, and they left, no heavy bag of books swinging from their arms...not even one.
I thought later about the day's non-climactic events. First, a dog that I was sure was lost, only to find he was standing right behind me. Then a certain uninterested reader who bought my book, and a certain interested reader who didn't buy it. Life is full of enigmas. It is so often not what we expect. As soon as it feels like I have it all figured out, it pulls a fast one on me, reminds me to expect the unexpected, but be careful about expecting the expected. What on earth was God trying to say to me? That I may know Him, but totally not understand Him? Was that even possible? Cause if I were scripting the day, I would have had a crowd ten miles long lined up for my books. After all, He's the protagonist, the hero of the story! I certainly wouldn't have had the committed believer pass the book by, while the sceptic who loved her mother decided her mother must have a copy. Which is probably why I am not God.
On my way to the book signing, I had prayed, "Lord, please send the person who most needs your message of hope, who most needs my book to buy it today."
And as I drove away, I remembered the ex-Naval officer's parting words as she walked out the door, "And when my mother is done with it, I bet she will let me read it." Maybe like my dog, God's purpose was standing right behind me, and I was missing it.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
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