Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
1 Chronicles 4:10
(Painting by Michael Dudash)
Some time ago, in early 2001, my friend Dawn asked me if I had read the book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. I had not heard of it and so she bought one for me which I have since given to my son. The book is based on 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and I was totally caught up in the story of Jabez who is mentioned only in these two verses of 1 Chronicles. In verse 9 it tells us Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. But what the book is really about was the prayer to God that Jabez offered. Many people, myself included, were praying the prayer of Jabez.
I have always loved how God’s word has practical applications scattered throughout the entire Bible and studying these two verses impacted my life for my future ministry. I was traveling in my “mom van” one early morning and always prayed in my car after dropping my children off at school. As I was making a left hand turn a red light runner came crashing into my van, knocking my van 15 feet in another direction and totaling it. On top of that, I heard myself moan and smelled the sulfur of the airbags. Immediately shock protected my body and I felt no pain. There were several cuts on my arms and a completely shattered left wrist that I soon found out was broken in 8 places. Pins had to be inserted surgically and I wore two different casts for 4 months; I was also unable to work during that time. The driver was drunk (at 9:00 in the morning!) and he had no insurance. Fortunately, I had excellent coverage which took care of the van and my lost wages.
One morning I asked God why He allowed this to happen since I had been praying the prayer of Jabez every single day. Why did harm come to me and why was I in so much pain once the shock wore off? And in the still place of my heart God reminded me I was alive. He also showed me that just because I was praying something didn’t mean I would have it granted like He did for Jabez. He saved me from death and worse injuries and used my down time for some much needed rest and recuperation.
What God also did, from that time on, was begin setting me in place for my enlarged territory. He did grant that request, a little at a time. First, He put me in a place to lead a large women’s ministry which I adored. I served in that position for three years. However, what I was really hoping for was a bed and breakfast to offer to weary missionaries, pastors and church staff. That was and still is a dream of mine. But God never said yes. So I waited and prayed.
Later, I began wanting to travel America with my paints and brushes and share Jesus with those people I met along the way, using my art as a tool to capture attention. But God never said yes. So I continued waiting and praying.
Finally, 9 in 2010 I began my original Trust in the Lord group (now retired) on Facebook. It grew to over 600 people which absolutely delighted me. I was also leading a women’s Bible Study but that was never more than 14 women so over 600 made my heart soar. God smiled. Since 2011 when I started the new version of Trust in the Lord, He has brought over 67,000 people from 45 countries around the world to fellowship with me and one another. (As of April 13, 2013, Trust in the Lord now has over 124,000 followers). I am humbled by God’s vision because it certainly wasn't mine. I wanted to be with the people, face to face, but He had other plans. And so, after 10 years of waiting and praying, God said yes, I will enlarge your territory. And I said thank you Lord for knowing what is best. To Him be the glory!
Do you see having your territory enlarged for the Lord? What is your dream? Don’t give up praying for it but be open to other paths that God sees as a better fit for you.
He didn’t want me traveling the roads of America all alone. He knew that my dream lodge for ministering to the weary was not the place for me back then. But my love of His word, art and simple graphic designs were His gift to me that I could give back to Him to encourage others.
Keep praying and waiting for God to show you your territory for ministering to other believers. It might be through art, music, dance, drama, teaching, helping, serving, hospitality or other special areas where He can be glorified. He will open doors for you: be ready!
Father, thank you for giving me a desire to share the truth about Your Son, Your love and the hope You offer to mankind. May I be sensitive to those who don’t know You and an encouragement to those who do.
Trusting in Him,