Can I still trust the Lord when my plans unravel? When everyone around me is focused on his or her own plans? This wedding, I reminded myself, is a wedding by faith. Do I trust God or not?
Adapted from Ripple Effects: Discover the Miraculous Motivating Power of a Woman’s Influence by Pam Tebow
I once heard a speaker comment that we shouldn’t bother God with the small details in life. I disagree. I really believe God cares about even the tiniest details. Even a not-so-minor detail like the perfect dress for a daughter’s wedding.
Right after her engagement, Christy and I decided that her wedding would be “By Faith,” because we wanted God to do more than we could plan. Our goal was to pray through every detail, and our main request was for her wedding to have an impact on everyone who attended. We wanted God to get the glory for bringing two people together who had both committed their future spouses to Him at an early age, and we hoped to influence the younger attendees that they could trust the Lord for their love lives. And we had to do it all on a limited budget.
Two weeks before the wedding, I still hadn’t found a dress. Out of obligation, my bride-to-be-daughter and I represented our family at a wedding near the beach, an hour from our home. We heard about a small, exclusive dress shop located in the same area, so before we headed home, Christy begged me to check out the store.
The clients in the upscale shop looked as if they could afford what we assumed were pricey designer dresses. The saleslady rushed to assist me. “I need a dress for my daughter’s wedding,” I told her.
“When is the wedding?” she asked me.
“Two weeks from today,” I responded.
She couldn’t hide her obvious disdain. “What kind of mother are you?” she questioned.
I bit my tongue, but what I wanted to say is, “The kind who is doing the best she can! I plan ahead, love to organize, and usually have my act together.” But not this time, I admitted to myself.
In an attempt to hide from the saleslady’s disapproving glare, I began to sort through a rack of lovely dresses. Then I saw it! My eyes locked on the dress of my dreams. I knew it immediately. It was the exact color I wanted—the color I hadn’t shared with anyone but the Lord. It was the perfect style, the perfect size, the perfect everything—except the perfect price. After I peeked at the price tag I was reluctant to try the dress on, but my daughter insisted.
“Mom!” Christy exclaimed as I stepped out of the dressing room. “It’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. I know God intended this dress for you!”
Everyone in the store looked too—the customers, the saleslady, even the well-dressed lady who appeared to be the manager. “You have to buy it!” my daughter insisted. It seemed as if every woman in the small shop nodded in agreement.
“Honey,” I explained to Christy as I placed the dress on the padded hanger, “this dress does not fit our budget.”
“But Mom,” Christy responded, “just ask them to hold it.”
I knew I couldn’t justify the expense. We were already over our wedding budget, and her sister’s wedding would follow soon. But I hated to disappoint Christy. So I thanked everyone, left my number with the manager, and then quickly exited the shop.
Lord, I prayed throughout the course of a busy weekend, I believe you care about my dress for the wedding. I trust that if the beautiful blue dress is not the one, then you’ll enable me to find another one. You have to accomplish this for me, because I can’t do it on my own. Then I moved on to tyranny of the urgent—as if needing a dress in two weeks is not urgent! Okay, it was urgent, but not life-and-death urgent.
How often are you so wrapped up with the needs of those in your charge that your dreams seem secondary? You want to scream, “But what about me?” You don’t, though, since you doubt that anyone would listen. But Someone does. Early in the wedding planning, I found a verse in Psalms that became mine: “I will cry to God most high, to God who accomplishes all things for me” (Psalm 57:2). Can I still trust the Lord when my plans unravel? When everyone around me is focused on his or her own plans? This wedding, I reminded myself, is a wedding by faith. Do I trust God or not?
I reasoned that if I couldn’t afford the blue dress, I still had a week and a half to find something else. Maybe I could borrow one. It’s just a dress, I told myself. And then I sensed God’s supernatural peace—a peace I can’t explain in words. I would be okay with or without the dress. It was still my dream, but it wasn’t all-consuming. I still had a myriad of other details to tend to.
My phone rang early Monday morning, and I recognized the voice of the kind lady I’d assumed was the manager of the dress shop. “Mrs. Tebow,” she began, “I’m filling in for my friend, the store owner, who is on vacation. While you were shopping on Saturday, I watched closely how you treated your daughter, the other shoppers, and especially the rude saleslady. I was touched by your spirit, even when I perceived you couldn’t afford the dress you loved.
“I’m a Christian too,” she continued, “and all weekend, I sensed the Lord impressing on me very clearly that He intends for you to have that dress. Could you tell me the figure you have budgeted for the dress?”
Fighting back the tears, I caught my breath and told the gracious woman what I could afford.
“It’s yours for that amount,” she said, “and I’ll also include any necessary alterations. The owner gave me authority to make decisions like this one, and I am delighted to do so for you.”
I thanked her, and the tears flowed even before I hung up the phone. I couldn’t wait to tell Christy and my friends who had been praying for me. I’m aware, of course, that this was just a dress, not a cure for cancer or an end to war. But God answered the prayers of a woman trying to trust Him with all her heart for the desire of her heart.
Our wedding by faith was all we prayed it would be and much more. A few months into the planning, I’d put a Scripture praise to a tune, sensing that my own words wouldn’t be adequate to express my gratitude for all God would do as we trusted Him. As Bob and I walked hand-in-hand from the lovely reception to our car, I sang my praises over and over in my heart: “I will praise You forever, because You have done it; and in the presence of Your saints, I will praise Your name, for it is good” (Psalm 52:9, NJKV).
When we experience firsthand the love and faithfulness of God, we can trust Him with the big and small details of our lives. Then, with real conviction, we can influence those around us to trust Him too. Faith in a big God—our Master—is miraculous motivating power and the cornerstone of an influential life.
Discover the God-inspired difference only you can make in the world . . . using the key you never knew you had.
Tim Tebow credits his mom with being the key to his success—but Pam never expected that she would be known on a national stage. For most of her life, she was serving quietly and faithfully as a wife and a mom—choosing life for her child in the face of medical risks, answering the Lord’s call to mission work in the Philippines, and homeschooling before anyone knew what the word meant. But all along the way, her experiences—and her consistent, everyday choices to follow the Lord and to serve wherever He placed her—were creating unexpected ripples of influence throughout her family, her community, and her world. And they would end up extending far beyond anything she ever imagined.
Pam believes that every one of us can be influential—and that deep within a woman’s heart is the desire to use her influence for good. In Ripple Effects, Pam uncovers and explores the miraculous motivating power of influence we can have on this generation and the next, no matter where we are planted in life. Whether we are in the midst of endless diaper changes, climbing up the corporate ladder, or simply doing our best to live, love, and serve well each day, Pam will encourage us to maximize our God-given opportunities for influence—and watch how far the ripples will spread.