I guess if I had to describe myself in any way, it would be to tell you to go look in the mirror. What you see in your mirror is exactly who I am – just another ordinary person. The only thing that is special about me is the same thing that’s special about you – the extraordinary God Almighty lives inside. I do not purport to be a scholar – that would be a lie; nor a world-renowned speaker – that would be a lie, too. I’m a 60+ year old woman, a wife of 40+ years, a mother of 3 sons and a grandmother of 2 perfectly beautiful angels! My only right to speak or write is because God has specifically and undeniably called me to the Book of Ruth. We all, as children of the Most High God, have a calling on our lives, and we must walk in that calling, never backing down. I don’t care what curves satan throws at us; I don’t care who dies, who insults us, who abuses us – there is nothing in this world that is any legitimate excuse for our not fulfilling His call.
We each have a story to tell as to how we got to whatever point we are, and that is what I want to share with you.
I was born in 1945 in Lambert, Mississippi, to Buford and Gladys Adams. My Mother was a stay-at-home mom, and my Daddy worked for the Mississippi Power & Light company climbing poles. There were 6 of us kids with only the bare necessities on which to get by. My Mother did without tremendously, probably like most of yours, so that we kids could have what she probably needed. My folks never had an extra dime until all of us were grown and gone, and then they could finally do for themselves.
We were members of First Baptist Church Lambert. My Daddy led the singing on Sundays, and all of us kids sang. Mother stayed at home because she never felt she had a dress good enough to wear. She would tell us that she had to cook for us while we were gone. I don’t know that any of us ever thought much about our getting to go and her not; it’s just the way it was.
I wish (I think) I could tell you a day and date when I got saved, but I can’t. The truth is there were three possible times, and maybe none of these was the one. When I was 8, during a revival, I peeked during the invitation and saw my two older sisters going forward to get saved. I wasn’t about to let them get ahead of me, so I went down, too. That one we can probably rule out. And, tragically, they didn’t counsel people who went forward like they do now. What we did when we went down was to go up to the preacher, and he would ask if we came to get saved, and we’d be crying and say, “yes,” and he’d hand us a clipboard and tell us to fill out the card, and that was it. We were saved. What a travesty! And, I pray that if you are a product of this misguidedness, you will ask God to reveal to you if your salvation is real and whether anything more needs to be done.
The next time I “got saved” was when I was about 12 at another revival. A lot of the youth went forward, and all I remember about that time was the guy who was in line behind me to be baptized. Then, there was a third time when I was in my early twenties that I knew the hand of the Lord was on me and wondered if that was my time of salvation.
There is another noteworthy spiritual experience that happened to me in my early teens. I was about 14 and had done something majorly wrong – don’t remember now what it was, but it scared the living daylights out of me – so, I promised God that if He would get me out of the jam, I’d read my Bible every day for the rest of my life. Reading one’s Bible every day is a good thing, but making a vow like that is probably not. A vow with God is something most 14 year olds don’t understand. But, the bottom line is that I did make that promise, and with a very few exceptions, have kept it. The good part is that I got God’s Word in me every day. So, He took something that was probably not wise and made something good out of it. He can and does do that every time with His children – every single time!
Ken and I started dating our sophomore year in high school. He was born and raised on a farm. We graduated at 18, and at that same time, he sold one of his pigs and bought me an engagement ring. He said he sold one and bought another. I should have known then, right? The next year we both entered Northwest Mississippi Junior College in Senatobia. I took a one-year secretarial course, and he went the regular college route. When I finished the course, we married and I started to work for lawyers in Marks, Mississippi.
(On a side note, I have to tell you a funny store about that first job. The law office was in a very old building off main street, and part of it – the bathroom and a file room – actually had dirt floors. One day I was in one of the lawyer’s offices taking dictation with my pad on my knee. All of a sudden a lizard ran between my feet. I turned completely white and felt like I was going to faint. The lawyer – who was a little gruff – looked at me and said, “What’s the matter with you?” I said, “A lizard just ran between my feet.” He said, “Have you never seen a lizard before?” and kept right on dictating. Another time I came back to work after going home for lunch, and I went in the front door and closed it. When I did, I accidentally closed it on a lizard’s tail, and his tail popped off, and the rest of him ran away. Anyway, it wasn’t funny then, but it is now.)
For the next 10 years, I worked for lawyers, and it was at that time that I learned my grammar, punctuation and writing skills. I wasn’t a particularly good student in school because I was too busy socializing, but God knew I would need those writing skills, and since I didn’t get them in school like I should have, He gave me on-the-job training.
When Ken and I had been married about 3 years, we had our first son. A couple of years later, we had our second, and 8 years after that, we had our third. Shortly before the last one was born, I began working only part time, and after he was born, I got to become a stay home mom myself. For those first 30 years of our married life, it was all about the family – how to raise the kids – how to be a submissive wife (whether or not I actually wanted to) – how to make ends meet – growing in the Lord with all these many, many life changes of family and personalities and tempers and how to balance it all. Ken and I both taught Sunday School and worked with the youth. I sang in the choir and led a children’s choir. I was also nursery coordinator for a while, not to mention all the Vacation Bible Schools. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and so did our children. I loved being a wife and a mother and a homemaker, but more than all of that, I passionately loved the Lord. I’m certain it was His hold on my life that saved me from many a fall.
As good as it was, though, it was by no means a fairy tale. We had the constant strain of five people fitting into one salary, and the daily dilemma of trying to figure out how to deal with and help an extremely hyperactive child. I can truly say that I don’t know if Ken and I have ever had a time in our lives when we didn’t have a trial of some kind breathing down on us.
And, you know, you look at people all around and think, “They’ve got it all together. Just look at them. They’ve never had a problem in their lives.” The truth of the matter is that we are all sinful humans living in a world contaminated by the enemy. There is no heaven on earth. Heaven is in heaven, and we are not going to reach it in these clothes or in this birthday suit. We will reach it, though, and it will be worth it all, but as long as you and I look like we look, and we can reach out and touch each other in this bodily form, this is not heaven. We are living in a sick and dying world, and I know of no way to live in it and not be affected by it.
Only recently our family was in its toughest battle of all time. Can we glory in tribulation? Yes, by the grace of God! He is faithful. As a matter of fact, one night in the fiercest part of this battle, I was in bed in the middle of the night about to die from the stress of everything. I truly felt satan pulling me down, and the easiest thing would have been to let go. Just as it seemed I was loosing my last grip, I very distinctly heard in my Spirit this verse, “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” One sentence from the Bible held the key to how to survive – my mind was where the problem was. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” The true spiritual battlefield is in our minds. If the enemy can get our minds, then he’s got us. Don’t ever forget that, and also, don’t ever forget how to get the victory – perfect peace is promised to those whose minds are “stayed on Him.” If we don’t have perfect peace, then there’s no one to blame but ourselves. God has given us all the necessary tools to live in perfect peace in this sin sick world. And, if we don’t think we’re strong enough, then we need to get strong enough. We need to pull ourselves up by our boot straps, deliberately put our minds on Him – not our circumstances – and breathe in His peace and freedom. That night, when that verse came to me and I realized how easy it was to win this, I was flooded with His peace – it truly was the peace that passes all understanding – a peace that makes no sense to this world, and, never will. It only makes sense to those who are filled with the very essence of God Himself. Not a single time since that night have I felt that sense of ebbing away.
I told you that I really don’t know when I was saved, and I don’t, but there was a spiritual time in my life of which there is no doubt. On April 23rd, 1993, I went to a conference at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. After the morning session, there was a luncheon for the ladies, and Verla Pettit was to speak. I had heard of Verla Pettit for years, but that was about the extent of my knowledge of her. She was probably in her early 80’s at the time, and there was a little platform about 6 inches high that she had to step up on from which she would speak. She got to the platform and started laughing because she couldn’t step that high. Someone hastened to her rescue and helped her up, and she just laughed and laughed at herself. Then she began to tell about how God had led her into ministry with homeless men, and she would talk about all the men in her life and snicker and laugh some more. She held me spellbound. There was nothing profound about what she said, but what was profound was her love for God and her joy and delight in operating in her calling.
Afterwards I got in my car and was driving home, when all of a sudden, my car was flooded with the Holy Spirit in great power, and I knew at that moment the Lord wanted from me total commitment and surrender of self. Never before had I truly given it all to Him. It seemed that I always held a little something in reserve. But, at that moment, I can say without a doubt that I surrendered all. I knew I was saved before that, but this was much more than my salvation experience. This was a brand new upward move – one from which I would not retreat – one I embraced.
I told you all of these things so that you could see into the personal life of the author of this book. Everything that comes into our lives is a composite of who we are. All of these things have been a part of my equipping, just as all the many stories in your life are likewise a part of your equipping. Many of these things I couldn’t avoid, but some of them I could. The truth of the matter is that God is much bigger than any good or bad thing you or I could do. He can take this whole lifetime of events and work them for His Kingdom. He promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He did not promise that “some things” work together for good; He’s bigger than that. I don’t care what you’ve done or what you haven’t done – and I mean literally anything – big or little – deliberate or accidental – He is God and He can make it work for good, and He will! The worst thing you or I have ever done is no match for His overcoming power. We are not smarter or bigger than He is. Our sin is not greater than His grace. If I could really do something that He couldn’t work out for good, then He would be a liar, and in a sense, I’d be more powerful than He.
I shared all of these things about myself to show you how God uses the sum total to get what He wants – children who can affect the Kingdom. I grew up in a rather poor family and married a not much better off farm boy so God could teach me the value of relationships, rather than the status of a noble birth, title or position. My background is the basic background. I think God has a keen rapport with commoners – just look to whom His son was born. I went to secretarial school because God knew that those skills were absolutely essential not only to help put food on our table, but also to write this book. Long before He ever spoke to me about Ruth, He was investing in me the necessary tools. Also, it was through our hyperactive son that God showed me His heart for Israel. (The complete story is found in the book.) There was no mistake there, no fluke of nature. It was that experience that made me start praying daily for Israel. Our son’s uniqueness was a necessary part of the story. And, God used our most recent painful family trial to get rid of everything in me that boasts of self. God used this to put me where I rightly belong, flat on my face. God has a purpose for me, just as He has for you, and satan will try anything and everything to steal it from us. He knows our weaknesses, and that’s where he attacks. He’s not going to attack where we’re strong. It is imperative that we recognize our weaknesses, stay on guard and flee from evil. Sin doesn’t pounce on us all at once. It starts with a little seed planted in the mind. Stop it at that point and save yourself a lot of heartache, and more importantly save God the pain. We really can hurt Him. What a mighty God we serve, and He can show Himself mighty in the very least – even you and me!