“A Friend’s Love is Contagious”
This week’s Salvation Story is about Monica’s sister, and what is so near and dear to my heart with this story, is how God saw fit to use one of my dearest and sweetest friends, Dawn. I met Dawn for the first time when I spoke in Fresno, California. On RMIOU campus I have a picture of a few of the ladies who attended and even while I was speaking I noticed her sweet smiling face that was radiant. You’ll see Dawn wearing a blue sweater (near the back left).
After the meeting, I met up with Dawn who had offered to drive me to her home in San Jose, let me stay the night, then take me to the airport early the next morning. From only that very short time together, we became the closest and dearest of friends (to this day) and it was Dawn who God used to introduce Monica’s sister, Lila, to the Lord.
From the time Monica and Lila were young they had one of the worst cases of sibling rivalry I’d ever seen. As a matter of fact, Lila was all set to come live with us in Missouri and go to the university, but because Monica came to live with us, Lila chose another state for only that reason! Looking for other universities who featured her major in Linguistics, San Jose State University was said to be an excellent alternative. So my brother called me, saying he knew I had “friends” all over the world (only God could manage that, and also that my brother would admit this, being a typical older brother and asked if I knew anyone in the area? Immediately I envisioned the warm cozy twin bed I’d slept in and the warmth of Dawn's home, so I said Yes, but knew this was a lot to ask.
Looking back, I believe I didn’t email but chose to call Dawn, but one fact I do remember, I warned Dawn to make absolutely sure it was the Lord who wanted her to do this! That she must promise not to do this for me or base it on our friendship. I also made sure Dawn knew about my demanding and in-your-face brother—before I would allow her to accept. A few days later Dawn said she did sense it was Him, and to confirm this, before my niece Lila came to live with her, she took in another foreign university student from China!
Almost the year had ended and Lila was preparing to leave to return home when Dawn told me how she felt she had let me down. I was shocked and told her she didn’t let me down and asked if she thought I had expected her to lead my niece to the Lord? She said, “Yes, of course” when I was able to explain that all I had hoped she would do is to LOVE my niece with the same love she’d always given to me. And that Lila’s salvation was not her job or responsibility, that it was the Lord's job, not hers. Hearing her let out a sigh, she responded by saying how relieved she was.
It wasn’t long after, maybe a week or two, when I heard the news that Lila had come home from a youth group meeting dancing and jumping excitedly around the living room saying, almost singing that she’d accepted Jesus and how happy she was!
This proves that when we let go and let God do what He alone can do, then simply trust the Lord, He has the room needed to fulfill His plan and promise for our family.
The biggest shock was when Lila’s parents saw the change in both their daughters—when she got home she embraced her sister, Monica, telling her how happy she was, then pulled her into her room to tell her what had happened!!
Way, way back when the Lord told me how He would come into this family, through the girls, I heard myself say that when it happened (notice I never said “if”?), the change in their daughters would be what got my brother and sister-in-laws attention. Though I’d heard about this amazing change, it wasn’t until Tara was there in Japan and came back to say she was constantly in awe of how close these sisters were. It’s not just that they stopped fighting and bickering, but that they could be seen hugging each other all the time, with arms always wrapped around the other or walking holding hands (customary for close friends in Japan).
For me, the biggest proof was how gorgeous Lila became. To me, she always looked a bit too much like my brother but once she met the Lord face-to-face, she was glowing and is now simply gorgeous!!!
Psalm 34:4-5 The Voice (VOICE)
“When I needed the Lord, I looked for Him; I called out to Him, and He heard me and responded. He came and rescued me from everything that made me so afraid. Look to Him and shine, so shame will never contort your faces.”
NOTE: Before my brother and his wife ever entrusted me with his two daughters or would entrust one of my friends, he made it clear that he knew I wasn’t like the other -in-your-face bible-thumping people he hated and trusted my friends were the same. Instead of ever trying to share the Lord with my brother, I lived it. And throughout the years the Lord gave me many times to water the seed that had been sown by simply being me: loving others the way I’ve been loved by Him for so many glorious years.
UPDATE: Monica (from last week) has remained morally pure (waiting for her husband as her best friend and cousin Tara has been too) and is now in graduate school. An update on Lila, she is also unmarried working as a university professor with her dad (my brother) who I believe will be the next to surrender his life to the Lord, unless my sister-in-law beats her husband to it.
RESTORED: Dawn was blessed with a RESTORED marriage! Be sure to read My Dearest Friend RESTORED!