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Posts Tagged ‘in-store book signings’

Jo 17Can you remember a time when you went somewhere with a particular purpose in mind, only to find God had some surprises in store for you—or perhaps even an entirely different agenda? What was your initial response? Did you perhaps feel a little ripped off, like I have at times? After all, what could God be thinking, to mess up my lovely plans!

A couple of weekends ago, my author friend and I were promoting our books in a Koorong bookstore. Our day started off well. On arrival, I found someone had bought one of my books already and was waiting for me to sign it. He also insisted on having his photo taken with us, so, for a few seconds at least, we felt like celebrities! While things were a little slow after that, we still had some lovely conversations with customers and sold a few books. Besides, there was always hope things would improve after lunch. But we had no idea of the special experiences God had in store for us.

Our first ‘God surprise’ came via a friendly man and his severely disabled teenage son who was in a wheelchair. I chatted briefly with them, before moving away to talk with someone else. But when I returned, the man and his son were holding hands with my friend and praying for her! Later, I discovered the man’s son had felt God wanted them to pray with her about a particular health issue, so, after ascertaining that this was indeed something my friend suffers from, they had done exactly that. I silently joined in the prayer then but also felt so humbled that this young man had listened to God and was so keen to pray for others. What amazing, compassionate people, so full of the light and love of God!

Later, when it was almost time to leave, a lady came by whom I had met several months earlier when we had last signed books in the store. She and a friend had subsequently met with me for coffee and, on that occasion, I had told them about some issues our grandson Zain was having at school. Now, as she greeted me, her first words flabbergasted me.

‘Hello—so lovely to see you again! How is your little grandson Zain? My friend and I have been praying for him by name that God will provide the resources that will help him.’

This beautiful lady, with so much else going on in her life, had gone on faithfully praying for our grandson. What’s more, while I could not even recall her name at first, she had remembered his name and was so eager to hear what was happening for him. Again, what a wonderful, humbling, encouraging ‘God moment’!

Initially, I saw these experiences as interruptions. I did not want to be side-tracked from what I thought was my much more important task of engaging with new customers and promoting our books. But how wrong I was—and how much more amazing were the things God had planned for us that day!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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I did not know quite what to expect when I fronted up at our local Christian bookstore last Saturday for their first ever Author Expo. What would the next four hours involve? What interesting ‘God conversations’ would I have? I was already looking forward to meeting or renewing acquaintance with the other authors. But I discovered yet again that God has a way of bringing special surprises across our path that touch our hearts in a way that is hard to ignore.

Our individual tables were all set out ready along one of the main aisles. I had barely settled in before the author at the next table introduced herself and we began chatting. Then I noticed another author two tables away.

‘Oh, I must speak to that man,’ I told my new friend. ‘I was in a writers’ group he led in the early eighties. He might be encouraged to see I now have seven books published.’

‘But I was in a writers’ group he ran back then too!’ she gasped.

Had we been in the same group? We could not remember each other. But she had also continued writing and was now celebrating the release of her first novel.

A little later, I managed to speak to this gentleman who had run the writers’ group. How wonderful it was to see his face light up when I pointed out how, thirty years later, here were two authors he had encouraged in their writing journey! And what a wonderful glimpse it was into the faithfulness of God in my life, taking me through so many different experiences during those years that have equipped me to do what I do now.

Then there was the moment when I handed one of my bookmarks to a customer, only to have her smile at me and say:

‘Well, Jo-Anne Berthelsen! I know you many years ago from church. I’m ….’

And on the conversation went. I had not recognised her, which was not surprising, since she was around six years old last time I saw her thirty years ago! Again, I was overwhelmed with the grace of God in bringing me to where I am now and also in keeping this young woman close through all the ups and downs of her own life.

Another precious moment occurred when I noticed a woman smiling at me and began to chat with her. When I commented on her lovely accent, she told me she was from Iraq and again I marvelled at how God puts people in the right place just at the right time. I happened at that point to have a friend with me who has worked in Northern Iraq among Kurdish widows there. How wonderful it was to introduce her to this woman and see them connect at a heart level!

Are you rejoicing like me that we belong to a God of such wonderful surprises—a God who can see the whole picture and whose ways are so much higher than ours?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

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