When God Says “No” … Again Part 4: Sowing Seeds

[Jesus said] “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered, because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, even a hundred times.” – Mark 4:3-8

After two tries, I had finally got copies of my book, BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?), to my friend “C” and her cellmates. A “mix-up” with the first shipment had resulted in several other copies circulating through the jail.

If you missed the beginning of this saga, here are the links to catch you up:

When God Says “No” … Again Part I: The Nightmare

When God Says “No” … Again Part 2: Eggs, Carrots, and Coffee Beans

When God Says “No” … Again Part 3: Tilling the Soil

It was evident from her letters that C’s faith was making a comeback. Instead of continuing to ask why God had abandoned her, she was now focused on others. She was even looking at what appeared to be setbacks as “God’s-got-a-better-idea” scenarios, trusting that He was in control and can be trusted. She wrote in one letter:

Girls began taking [the books] to “plant” them on other people to get them in trouble, so I figure maybe they will read them. Maybe they need them more right now.

Instead of being frustrated at the mix-up with the books and the delay for her and her friends, C was reasoning that the questionable motives of the women who had snatched the books up weren’t anything God couldn’t work around. While inmates were trying to get their rivals caught with too many books in their possession, who would have stopped to consider that God could pick which books and use them for His purpose?

I continued to write to C, including questions from the BARRIERS study guide to use in her discussions with the others in her pod. However, things didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned, as C’s third letter told me.

We had a few of our girls moved out of our unit and new women moved in. They are NOT interested in learning or studying God’s Word. One actually keeps calling me and one other girl “Bible Thumpers.” She needs extra prayer. πŸ™‚ (She also kills cats for a passtime, so maybe a lot of extra prayer.“)

I honestly was disappointed that some of the original “girls” who had wanted to study prayer had been moved out. I confess I saw that as a setback, but I was encouraged to see that C’s response to it was, Just pray more.

That same letter closed with something else that encouraged me, both as an author and someone who had been praying for the situation from the beginning.

Thank you for being there for me as well as the rest of the women in our unit and pod. We are really enjoying your book and have heard others who are reading it on their own tell me that they really enjoyed it as well and it helped to put things in perspective.”

“Perspective”! – YYYESSSS!!! Divine perspective!

Maybe the women who had “planted” the books had been planting more than they realized! And maybe the interested ones who had been moved out of C’s pod were reading it on their own and sharing some of the content and related Scriptures with others. (I smile as I envision seeds of God’s Word, being carried on the wind of the Holy Spirit to “whosoever.”)

I continued writing C and enclosing study questions, which she was using to teach anyone within reach and interested.

C’s next letter had more encouraging news! (Ironic, isn’t it, that I was at our beautiful family summer home by the lake, receiving encouragement from a woman falsely accused and jailed for the summer!)

One of my fellow “podmates” has really gone so far these last few weeks. Her excitement over everything she reads has helped me to be excited again. I want to be just as excited as the first time I read it. (I hope you understand where I’m coming from with that.)

Yes, C, I do. There’s something uniquely inspiring about a “baby believer” discovering the grace of God, the power of prayer, the victory of light over darkness – the Abundant Life! – for the first time.

Now on to my little secret … πŸ™‚

I’m going home! After I served 70% of my time I could apply for a timecut. My lawyer said I had a 5-10% chance of getting it but I got it! So instead of going home August 22 I am going home July 28! My mom, 1 sister, and [“T”] are the only ones who know so shh… πŸ™‚ Praise God!

I scrambled to send C one last batch of study questions for whatever lessons she had time to share. I felt so honored to be in on her “little secret,” which, of course, was huge for her. I also chuckled, thinking that, whatever the enemy had planned to do to C through all this, it had clearly backfired, and he was canceling the mission!

Prayer: Lord, whatever the enemy of our souls has planned, You always have a better plan that trumps his. Knowing this, how could we ever get discouraged? But we do, and yet You are patient with us and delight to draw us back to faith as we watch Your plans unfold and marvel at Your grace. Thanks for what You did last summer in that jail. May the ripples there continue, as You reach out for the lost through faithful people like C. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(Next Week, the final chapter: Part 5 – The Harvest and Perspective)

34 thoughts on “When God Says “No” … Again Part 4: Sowing Seeds

  1. I’m so glad to hear about her time cut! After reading your posts, she didn’t deserve to be in there even one day, but wow ~ good is coming out of it. You wrote “several other copies circulating through the jail” and I find that a good problem to have πŸ˜‰ I will keep all of you in my prayers.

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    1. Thanks, Bruce. Even as I write the story, the Lord has been giving me insights I didn’t have when it was first happening – like the whole “planting” thing. (C had to explain to me just last night what that meant, and I got a bang out of the irony – and even how the term played right into the theme of the story!)

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  2. Ann, this story reminds me more and more of other stories I’m familiar with, albeit in other countries where persecution of Christians is rampant. The Lord can and certainly does use His people in prison, even if (especially if?!) unjustly put there.

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  3. Whatever the enemy of our souls plan, the Lord always has a better plan that trumps his- Amen to that πŸ™πŸ½.
    It is wonderful how God used this whole situation.

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  4. Such a great story Annie. I kept thinking of Paul and all the great work that he did in prison. Imagine that most of the New Testament was written from behind bars. I am encouraged and strengthened by C’a testimony and her work in prison to spread the gospel. That work that she is doing will do major things for the kingdom of God. Thanks my name sake. Not sure if I told you before that my family call me Anny. Bless you lady. πŸ’—πŸ’–β€οΈπŸ™πŸΎ

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    1. No, I didn’t know that! My family always called me “Ann,” my given name. I started calling myself “Annie” when I was in my country music songwriting stage, and it kind of stuck. But when I am intoduced as an “author and speaker,” I go back to “Ann.” πŸ˜πŸ™„

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      1. 😊no worries. Also didn’t know that you did music. My husband is a musician and sometimes in join him for some events. He’s mainly into jazz fusion and he would describe my sound as bluesy. I’d say an eclectic sound that fuses gospel, with soul, jazz and blues. Life is for the living eeh. πŸ˜πŸ’—πŸ˜˜πŸ˜πŸ₯°

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  5. Very cool! Praise the Lord for His goodness. He really does hide some pearls in our cesspool. I am so pleased that you share your books and that they wind up in just the right hands at just the right time.

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  6. What a wonderful testimony of faith. It’s encouragement for everyone, no matter what side of the prison bars they’re on.
    May God continue to bless C’s faith and faithfulness. And yours too.
    Blessings,
    Wendy Mac

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