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Turning Staffs to Serpents: The Faith Factor

Last week, days before Easter (when millions of believers and I celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus), I watched the epic 1956 movie, “The Ten Commandments”. Although the graphics technology may seem archaic by modern standards, the portrayal of the Biblical account of the liberation of the Hebrew people by Moses always thrills my soul and stokes my faith!

One of my favorite scenes (and I’ve been watching the movie since childhood) is when Moses first confronts Pharaoh with God’s command to “Let My people go!” To prove that Moses was sent from God to deliver this divine directive, Moses instructed his brother, Aaron, to throw down his rod (staff). The rod became a viper, a serpent, a snake as it hit the floor in front of Pharaoh!

I remember how terrified I was the first few times I saw this scene as a child. As if that wasn’t enough to give me nightmares, the scarier part was when Moses told Aaron to pick the “rod” (which was now a snake) back up! Pick up a poisonous snake !?? Aaron and Moses must have had some terrific faith in God to do that! (Photos below by Paramount Pictures.)

Of course, there were several other harrowing things that happened after that, all directed by the LORD, and all part of His plan to deliver His people from the cruel bondage of slavery in Egypt. (Read the whole account here, in the first twelve chapters of the book of Exodus.)

The power was not in the staff (or “rod”, as it’s called the King James Version), but in their obedience to and faith in God. It was ordinary stick of wood cut from a tree, and placed in the hands of ordinary men.

We are each ordinary people — through which God desires to do extraordinary things for His divine purpose in our lives. Our challenge (yours and mine) is to trust and obey God, and not in our limited human potential.

If you’re a regular reader of Inspiring Hope Blog , you know it’s been months since I’ve written. (Forgive me!?) There are several reasons for that, thus why I’m finally writing today – April 24, 2022.

Over the last few months (since my husband’s unexpected death in January 2020), I’ve had a few turning-staffs-into-snakes moments. There have been nightmarish, frightening and heartbreaking things happen. There have also been breathtaking, miraculous, only-God-could-orchestrate-this events (both instant and over time) along this journey!

Just as Moses and his brother, Aaron, felt ill-equipped to deliver their kinsmen out of Egypt, you and I often (might I say, usually?) feel similarly unworthy, skittish, outnumbered, and ill-prepared to do most of the things that God may lead us to do.

Thank God, in these moments where I teeter between faith and fear, the Holy Spirit reminds me of some critical truths. He brings to remembrance His liberating promises, with conviction and encouragement simultaneously poured out with love and grace — like a cheering parent at their child’s first steps:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

“By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) [Emphasis added]

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

And, one of my favorites –again– both convicting and encouraging, in those moments of self-doubt:

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

I am both challenged and inspired by knowing that, as a follower of Christ, anything worthwhile that I desire to do in life must be fueled by my faith in God, and can only be accomplished with the supernatural power of God, Who works in me through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (the Bible).

So, what have I been up to? Here’s the nutshell version:

  • June 2020 (four months after becoming a widow),
    God prompted me to do three things: Move out of the city, get out in the country, and get out of some debt. Started looking for land with or without a house that would still be close to town (for my daughter’s sake, who was 14). Began PRAYING (with many tears over leaving our home of 18 years) that God would send a Christian family with (or who wanted) lots of kids -like our family did- to buy our house!
  • September 2020: Bought 9 acres (with a house on one acre in the middle that belonged to someone else); Didn’t realize what a “can of worms” this was — but I knew this was the place and time! As this “saga” continued, the Lord kept reminding me that there are often “giants in the land”, obstacles to overcome, wars to fight – on our KNEES in PRAYER — when God tells us to do something. Yep!
  • December 2020: Bought a “fixer-upper” to remodel and rent to a single mom in need. She ended up moving out of state, so I sold the house to another single mom who’d been praying hard for a home! It also gave my architect/ builder brother five months of work, since he’d been laid off due to Covid! God is faithful! It was also very comforting to have he and his wife stay with me and Jaycie for a time.
  • July 2021: Finally broke ground and began building our new house on the nine acres!
  • February – September 2021: Sold one of our rent houses to (mostly) pay for the nine acres. Sold another (our previous home) to the tenants of 3 1/2 years, an answer to prayer for them and for me! Used the funds to pay off another rent house debt. Remodeled that property and sold it to dear friends of mine from our previous church. Used those proceeds to pay cash for the first “lumber drop” on the new house (although there were many more to come!)
  • December 2021: Put my current house in town up for sale, with more prayers and tears, but excitement for the future! I’ll have a bigger, more functional recording studio in the new house, and I have lots of new music to write and record!
  • February 2022: My parents (my stepfather, and my mom, who is 100% disabled) were finally able to purchase the house next door, in the middle of my nine acres! This followed 18 months of prayers, negotiations, and relationship-building with the former owner (and other truly incredible details that I will not share here… But only GOD could have orchestrated this chain of events!!)
  • February 2022: Began teaching my daughter, Jaycie, to drive! More prayers!!!
  • Every Week: Honored to serve on our church worship team as a vocalist, playing keyboards, and/or singing in the choir weekly. Occasionally teaching Sunday school / bible classes
  • Every Monday: Started a Girls’ Bible & Book Study in our home (starting with Jaycie & a friend or two from school)
  • Saturday April 9th, 2022: Received (and accepted) an offer on our house from a Christian family with six children (biological and adopted two sibling groups!). It was contingent, however, upon their house selling. LOTS of prayers from each of us!
  • Tuesday April 12th: My tentative buyers showed their home to another family (with 7 children, all homeschooled!), and they signed a contract! AND, this other family was already pre-approved for a loan — with no contingencies!!! God answered ALL of our prayers within THREE DAYS, after 21 months of praying!!

During all of this, many other things were happening, of course. Over the last two years and lot of work and prayers, my ministry headquarters and I (Artists in Christian Testimony, International) developed a JMVA (Joint Ministry Venture Agreement) with the orphanage and churches in India that we’ve been supporting since 2017. Our partnership not only pays their monthly building and utility payments, it allowed Pastor Timothy and their volunteers to buy and distribute food to over 3,000 hungry people during the height of Covid. The funds also were used to purchase masks and hand sanitizer, repair a broken septic tank, and meet many critical needs. Their school provides a free education for over 200 students, many of whom are orphans rescued off the streets of India. Thank you for partnering with us!

In Jesus’ Name Ministries (IJNM, including The Children’s Ark orphanage, and supporting a conglomeration of 60 churches, many of which IJNM planted) is a Registered Charitable Trust in Chagallu, Andhra Pradesh, India, like our non-profit ministries here in the USA. Facing growing persecution by the Hindu government, their long-term goal is to plant more Christian churches before 2024, before their laws change, prohibiting the opening of any other religious centers besides Hindu. (If you’d like to help us help them, one time or monthly, please donate here. THANK YOU!)

For several months, I felt like I was supposed to donate my van to a family in need. Like Moses and Aaron throwing down their rod at God’s command, I trusted that God would do His part in whatever was supposed to happen!

I was also looking for a small, used car for my daughter (she’s only 5 feet tall, all of 93 pounds!). I texted Tim, a mechanic friend from church, and he gave me another person to call. I called “Bob” (I’ll call him) and told him what we were looking for.

Within five minutes of hanging up, Bob called me back, his voice shaking with excitement.

“Becky, you won’t believe this, but when you told me what you needed for your daughter, I was just stunned. I just took delivery of a car yesterday that perfectly matches your description! I paid $6,500, so I’ll let you have it for that.” I asked if we could pay $4,000 down and pay off the rest, and he agreed.

Bob had taken the car to my mechanic friend, Tim, so I went to his shop to look at the car. Jaycie was with me, and was beyond thrilled to learn why we were there — that God had provided her a car!

Tim called Bob to tell him the car was mechanically sound, thankfully, and asked what to do with the car now. I saw Tim smile before he hung up, and wondered what Bob had told him.

“Bob said to give you the car for $4,000, and you just pay for the tags.”

Jaycie saw my shocked and tearful, joyful reaction, and announced to the mechanic, “Okay now, you’re going to see my mom ugly cry!” Jaycie was right!

Tim assured me that he’d seen the bill of sale where Bob had just bought the car from a dealership, and had paid $6,499. Yet, he sold it to me for only $4000, in effect, giving us a gift of $2500!

Jaycie and I couldn’t thank Bob and his wife enough for their incredibly generous gift! Bob texted me the following day, shedding light on their decision:

Bob: “Merry Christmas.”

Me: “It certainly IS, and partly because of you!!”

Bob: “We know Who to give credit to, and it is not us.”

Me: “Yes, sir!”

Bob: “You have always given to the church, and we notice it and are thankful for it.”

Me: “It is my great joy!! Amazing how serving the Lord, which brings us so much joy, would also bring joy to others, and how God’s circle of blessing just keeps going around and around through each of us!!”

I’d been looking and praying for the right opportunity to donate my van, and it suddenly became clear! Seeing God demonstrate His kindness, faithful provision, and perfect will through the generosity of someone else bolstered my courage to trust Him and give away my vehicle!

On Tuesday Dec. 21st, I delivered my van to a family in our church whose two vehicles were both broken down, and had over 200,000 miles each. What a blessed Christmas week for all of us!!

We’ll be moving out of our home in town and moving to the new “country house” in less than four weeks. Yikes! I asked online, and two different perfect strangers gave us some moving boxes today. I know God will provide everything we need, right when we need it. If He can turn sticks into snakes to show His power and faithfulness, He can handle this. I just need to trust Him!

EXCITING NEWS! This weekend (April 29 – May 1st), I will be traveling with my daughter to Myrtle Beach, SC for the Staff Retreat of Artists in Christian Testimony, International (our first gathering in two years, since Covid hit). I was asked to lead Worship / Music for our opening session Friday night. Pray for traveling protection for all of us, and for a great bonding time for me and my daughter. It’s been a rough two years, and we are truly looking forward to this time. See Upcoming ministry dates.

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