For a number of years I have carried in my wallet a card with the Prayer of Jabez because it expresses my desire to reach as many people as possible with the good news of the kingdom of God on earth. Jabez called on God and said,
“Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”
And God granted him that which he requested. (I Chronicles 4:9)
And God, being no respecter of persons, has granted me the same. I have always been the recipient of God’s blessings, from my birth until now. I was born into a family of believers, raised in a 3-generation household that taught me to honor my parents (and grandparents), how a Christian gentleman should behave and the value of hard work and perseverance. Although I strayed from the fold of God when I left home to go to college, my parents and grandparents kept me covered with prayer that kept me from too much evil and insured my survival. So God’s hand never left me even while I was otherwise engaged and ignoring him.
However, after I met and married my wife, Mary, and our daughter Jennifer came along, things escalated dramatically. Mary and Jennifer were the two greatest blessings I have ever received and they are the gifts that just keep on giving. That would be enough for a lifetime in itself, but God was just beginning. I should point out here that this was long before I ever heard of the prayer of Jabez, but God, knowing I would one day utter it myself, began granting that which I had not yet requested. What an awesome God!
It began in earnest when Mary and I jointly made a commitment to follow Christ wherever he led us and to do whatever he asked us to do. As we described in “Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Fulfilling Your God-Ordained Destiny”, God began to lead us on an adventure that took us many places we had never expected to go and gave us the opportunity to do things we had not known we could do. I had been born and raised in Texas and had no desire to live anywhere else. But God began to enlarge my territory by calling us first to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and then to Virginia Beach, Virginia before calling us back to Texas. In the process Mary and I both were given opportunities to employ our God-given abilities in ways we had never anticipated. God also both planted in us a desire to travel and gave us the means to do so. In doing so he managed to enlarge our territory to include all 50 of the United States of America and over 60 foreign countries. We began to realize that the kingdom of God on earth was meant to encompass all of humanity throughout the whole world.
God’s hand was with us everywhere we went, protecting and guiding us and empowering us to accomplish all that came to our hands to do. This awesome adventure together lasted for nearly 53 years before God called Mary home to be with him. However, I was not truly left alone. Mary is still with me in spirit every day, everywhere I go, and God has never left my side. He is always with me and in me by his Spirit. So now I travel solo, but never alone. And God is still enlarging my territory.
After all the places Mary and I had travelled to, there were few places left that we had a desire to visit. One of these was South Africa, but Mary’s declining health prevented us from being able to undertake the rigors of that long a trip. But earlier this year (2019) I did make that trip, and I felt her presence with me throughout it. I took her in spirit where she had not been able to go in the flesh. And I did it in September and October to celebrate what would have been Mary’s 75th birthday.
Then this November I participated in a mission trip to the Texas border at Brownsville to take meals to the asylum seekers in the migrant encampment across the border in Matamoros, Mexico. Closer to home I have been given the opportunity to serve once again as a Deacon at Grace Presbyterian Church in Plano, Texas, to serve on the Men’s Council planning the 2020 Men’s Conference at Mo Ranch in the Texas hill country and to participate in the outreach effort to get people engaged in their local church and community through the North Texas Presbyterian Pilgrimage organization. Next Spring I plan to take a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, one of the last areas Mary and I wanted to visit. Once again I will take her with me in my heart.
As you can see, God has abundantly answered my prayer as he did the prayer of Jabez. I can hardly wait to see what else God has in store for me. One word of caution here: Be careful what you pray for; God may just give it to you in ways you don’t expect.