22-Two Productive Fasts!
I completed the school year during which I was born again, 1974-75, and was reluctant to return to teaching the next fall.
My heart was turning slowly, very slowly, away from teaching. To what purpose/plan/endeavor/quest, I did not know.
I had already decided I wanted to change occupations before I burned out and became negative and mean-spirited. I had seen this happen to others who stuck it out in the classroom and endured with tight lips to the bitter end–which was their retirement date. So I fasted (probably 2-4 days). (I did water-only fasts in those early days.) I didn’t feel like I heard anything from the Lord in the way of direction, and was disappointed.
To break the fast, my friends, Paul and Barbara, suggested we go to one of the nearby casinos, which was very unusual for us. While we were eating, I noticed a family sitting near us with a young teenage girl. I was surprised when the mom appeared to recognize me and approached our table. She said that her daughter, Cheryl, had been one of the second graders in my very first class in the Bay Area. I remembered that Cheryl had been an unhappy second grader and had struggled with her school work. The mom claimed that I had inspired her and sparked something in her so that Cheryl was now a high school freshman and an A student –with goals and plans! She said they talked about me all the time! I felt very surprised, humbled, and honored. I believed that meeting this family was a divine appointment, and an answer to my prayers.
From this encounter, following immediately on the tails of the fast, I had the clear impression that the Lord was saying that He wanted to continue to use me in the classroom and that I should go back to teaching for the coming year.
Obediently, reluctantly, I returned to school in the fall for the 1975-76 school year. It was important that I was listening and obeying because some of my students received the Lord.
During that year I had an assistant in my classroom, Joyce, a very sweet and soft-spoken woman. Her three children would meet in our classroom every day after school and wait until she had finished her work so they could go home together. We often talked about God and I tried to answer their questions about the Bible. Recently her son Lee somehow found me! He very enthusiastically credits me with leading him to the Lord way back in 1976. Today we are Facebook friends!
As that school year ended, I was praying again about retiring, feeling that pull in my heart that I could not put into words but left me feeling a little restless. We had a guest speaker at a Sunday service, Major Ian Thomas, an Englishman. He read the verse, leave your nets and follow Me, and as I read along in my Bible, the words sprang out off the page! I grabbed onto that verse by faith that Jesus was giving me permission to leave my occupation, my nets, and follow Him into a new endeavor. I did not care where we were going; I just knew my Lord had been whispering in my heart, and that with this invitation I was now free to follow Him. I submitted my retirement papers with great joy!
As I sought the Lord about what to do with my life, He called me to a time of fasting and prayer. I sensed very clearly that He was telling me to continue fasting and to go through all of my possessions. I was to pray over every item and remove: 1) everything that was connected to my first marriage or old boyfriends (photos, gifts, letters, mementos); 2) everything that was an idol (jewelry, art work, certain items of clothing, like my fur coat); 3) and everything that was a ego trip (things that I had that I used to impress people—furniture, pottery).
I prayed and read my Bible and walked around my house for three days, praying about what was to go and what was to stay. The pile of discarded items in the middle of my living room became significant. In my Bible reading one morning I read: they sold all of their belongings and gave the money to the poor. I called a lady I had recently met in my church who had told me she and her husband sold books and clothing and other items in a weekly flea market in a nearby town. With great enthusiasm they loaded my treasures into their vehicle. I reminded them to give the profits away, but it was out of my control. I agonized for days over whether they would keep the money or give it away. In order to have peace in my heart, I had to leave it with the Lord. Perhaps they were the poor ones who needed the boost.