God’s Purpose Revealed


Why am I here? I wondered as nurses wheeled me into a COVID-19 ICU. For the same reason I am anywhere—to glorify God!

Impacted by the pandemic, I remembered God’s words to Moses when he was in the midst of a plague: “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).

I’m not Moses, but I asked God to reveal His purpose in this COVID season of my life. My heart heard His answer: Look around you, Elaine. You are surrounded by hurting people. What can you do to help them?

Immobile, attached to an oxygen tube, I couldn’t do much, but I could pray, smile, express appreciation, and spread joy. God placed a desire in my heart to speak blessings of protection in the name of Jesus on each person who entered my room. No visitors were allowed, but while I was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), my world overflowed with doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, physical therapists, respiration therapists, food deliverers, and housekeepers.

As I listened to their stories and watched them serve, my mind saw the love and sacrifice of these precious people. I felt their pain, exhaustion, and the emotional toll of caring for people who suffer and die, the loneliness of missing their own families, and the fear of taking COVID-19 home to their loved ones. I heard their hearts’ cries and saw their tears as they danced daily with death. Healthcare workers give their lives so we can live, and they do so with love and grace.

Just like Jesus.

What was their response to my breathless prayers? Some paused in the hall outside my door to hear me speak words of affirmation and love. Many cried. Everyone thanked me. A few held my hands and prayed with me and for me. For a short time in a long day, we left COVID-land behind as Jesus was proclaimed and His power shown.

Whether our journeys take us to a COVID-19 ICU, a cancer center, a baseball game, or a grocery store, let us heed God’s words to Moses and seek God’s purpose, proclaim His name, and show His power.

I’m home now recovering from damaged lungs. The other day I received a note from one of my nurses thanking me for my prayers. What joy to serve those who served me. God blessed us all with His Presence in a COVID ICU.

Doubly Blessed

I awoke on the morning of April 17, thinking about my mother. It was her birthday. Although we reside in the same town, I was traveling that week and had to settle for a brief text message: “Good morning! Happy Birthday! Love you!” Each sentiment was “enhanced” with the proper emoticons.

Throughout the day, I reflected on the unexpected circumstances my mother had experienced recently. In many ways, Mom had experienced “double trouble” in the past six weeks.

On March 8, Mom heard the news that her youngest daughter had crashed her snowmobile, sustained multiple rib fractures, and was hospitalized (ironically, in the same hospital where she had given birth to this daughter). On March 12, Mom’s prayers went with her daughter as she traveled to Europe for ten days, trusting God for His provision in her daughter’s fragile state. Yes, I am that daughter.

On March 27, Mom received a phone call summoning her to the emergency room of our local hospital. Dad has suffered stroke-like symptoms. Days later, Mom would see her husband airlifted to a stroke recovery unit, spend three days with him in the hospital, and bring him home with the responsibility of managing his “new normal.” Within days of returning home, Mom had to call an ambulance and once again found herself waiting for answers on what was now Dad’s third visit to the emergency room in ten days.

After my meetings that same day, I called my sister and asked if she had talked with Mom yet to wish her a happy birthday. Like me, she had only sent a text message and was planning to call mom that evening.  I told her to wait. I had a rental car. I was only twenty minutes from her house. I was coming over.

We decided it would be fun to surprise Mom with a doubly-special phone call from both her daughters, including our well-intentioned, albeit slightly off-key, serenade of “Happy Birthday.” We were right. It was fun. As we were chatting together on the speakerphone, I expressed my desire for Mom to have a better year than what she had experienced recently.

Her response? “Today I am seventy-seven. Seven is the number of completeness and perfection, so I am proclaiming a double blessing for this next year!” Priceless.

As we look forward to all that the month of May brings, including Mother’s Day and the Alliance family gathering at General Council in Orlando, may we also anticipate the abundant blessing that comes only from God.

Looking for God’s New Thing

It’s a new year.  If God wanted to do a new thing in you or around you this year, would you see it or would you miss it?  Isaiah 43:19 teaches us how to spot one of God’s new things. “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

God’s new thing springs forth. “Spring forth” reminds me of a seed in a garden. The seed has been there for some time, embedded in the earth, hidden from sight.  Its growth has already begun, slowly and silently upward as the ground around it warms.  But suddenly it’s time – the tiny leaves burst into the sunlight as something fresh and new that can finally be seen.

Has God been germinating any new things deep inside your heart and mind?  Is it time for them to spring forth?

God’s new thing can happen anywhere, even in the most unlikely places. Notice where Isaiah says God’s new thing is springing forth.  Not in a sunny, warm, well-watered garden somewhere, but in the wilderness.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and picture yourself in a wilderness – not just any wilderness, but the driest kind of wilderness – a desert.  See the many shades of tan and brown, the windswept ripples of sand that turn into dune mountains stretching to the horizon.  Occasionally, the visual monotony is broken by a tough little shrub or cactus.  Feel the weight of the unobstructed sun pressing down on you like a huge, hot hand.  Almost immediately, realize your growing need for the thing that is most obviously missing here – water.

God’s new thing is exactly what you need.  It’s like water.  Not only a pool of water, but a lot of water, rivers in the desert – just what you need most, and more than enough.  A river is a running supply of water that creates green places wherever it goes.  Isaiah also compares it to a roadway – a path to follow to a place where God will provide things that are in short supply or missing entirely where you are now.  A roadway provides a way out of or a way through a hostile environment where you sense you were not designed to live for very long.

God is asking each of us an important question: Will you look for My new thing?

I can think of two ways to miss it.  First, we may allow our attention to be completely distracted by the desert.  We look at the desert, and we feel sure that there will never be any water there.  But our God can and will make it!  Second, we may find ourselves with our eyes fixed on the well-watered places of the past.  We let the past limit our expectations for the future.  Certainly, we should reflect on the past with gratitude and thank him for what He’s already done.  We know that He never changes.  But let’s not miss the new thing He is doing just because He hasn’t done it before.

Take a few moments right now in this first month of a new year, and ask God to make you aware of what new thing He is doing, both in you and around you.  It may be happening slowly. Like a seed germinating, the working of God is often silent & gradual, but it is also certain.  Be ready to spot a new thing springing forth, like a seed in the sun.  And when you see it – don’t miss your opportunity!

Chosen to Impact the World

We are women chosen by God to impact this world. This statement can be intimidating. As a young woman I wondered, “Has the Creator of this universe really called me for such a daunting role?” It was challenging to think that I could make a significant mark on others, much less the world. How could a woman from a small island live up to this expectation?

When I was 24 and about to get married, my future husband was serving as lead pastor at a church with a dynamic ministry in the community. My home church also served effectively and was one of the largest churches on the island. The pastor’s wife, Carmen Maria Lopez, played an influential role in my church. Many people came to know the Lord through her ministry. She was a sought-after counselor and mentor to many women in the church, including me. Before my wedding, I approached this woman for advice on how to be an effective pastor’s wife. I was expecting a long conversation with many ideas on how to do church ministry well. However, to my surprise her advice was very simple: “Love Jesus with all your heart, and do everything to exalt His name.”

Her counsel resembled Jesus’ response to the teachers of the law when they asked Him which was the greatest commandment. He told them, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and vwith all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mark 12:29–31) I have treasured my mentor’s words in my heart and have sought to love God, allowing Him to use me as a vessel of His love for others.

Today I realize it’s not so difficult to impact the world for Christ.  The Scriptures show us that the Lord uses ordinary people like us to make a difference in the world. As we read in 1 Peter 4:10–11, each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If we speak, we should do so as if we are speaking the very words of God. If we serve, we should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

As we love Him with all our being and love others as ourselves, God will equip us to accomplish His purposes in our lives. We may not see our names in history books, but many will remember us as women who loved Jesus and shared His love with them –  women who impacted the world.