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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 1st September 2015

When God Calls You to Do Something Crazy? Go Ahead and Do It. — #TellHisStory

I was at the grocery store with my friend Jenn the other day, and we pulled up next to a beat-up van. An old man was sitting in the driver’s seat.

Papers were stacked up inside his van, like snow drifts. They were piled on the dash, stacked on the passenger seat, and stuffed under the visors. If both van doors had opened, and the wind was just right, I imagined how all those papers would fly skyward in some swirling vortex. The whole parking lot would be cloaked in a paper storm, the color of a blizzard.

“Weird. That’s the second time I’ve seen that man in two days,” Jenn remarked.

We watched through my windshield as the man stepped out of his van. He had arms like sticks, shoved into an old navy suit coat with papers spilling out of the pockets. His hair was uncombed, a raggedy brown mop. He walked with a shuffle. His palms looked like they’d been blackened with oil.

I turned to Jenn.

“You’re feeling The Nudge, aren’t you?” I asked.

That’s what Jenn calls the prompting work of the Holy Spirit: The Nudge.

The nudge is what happens when a person feels suddenly compelled in her spirit to make a phone call, send a card, knock on a door, pay for someone else’s meal, walk to the altar, raise your hand in the crowd.

Can I confess something? The Nudge scares the daylights out of me. Sometimes, The Nudge compels us to do stuff that feels just plain bizarre. But my … how dangerous we would be for the Kingdom, if we always followed The Nudge. How beautifully dangerous.

Jenn and I sat in my car a while, watching that man. I vice-gripped the steering wheel with both hands, frankly a little scared of what Jenn might do. Our kids were in the back seat, silently, waiting to see.

They knew what we knew: God was up to something. We were about to find out what it was.

• • •

Sitting there in my car, with my friend and our daughters, I remembered Beth Moore‘s famous “Hair Brush Story.” Have you seen it? I’ve linked the video below for you (email subscribers may need to click here to see it). It’s seriously one of the most precious stories. I’ve watched that video a dozen times or more over the years, and every time, it makes me cry. Short version: Beth encounters an old man with long gray hair at the airport, and God nudges her to do something a little whacked out. He prompts Beth to ask the man if she can comb his hair. What happened after that is pure glory. Please, watch the video!

Anyway, I thought about that story while I was sitting in the parking lot, because Jenn has this Beth Moore-ish quality about her. Jenn has learned that when God asks her to do outrageous things, she better lace up her shoes and get moving.

All six of us got out of my car, and went into the grocery store. I pushed my cart through the aisles, picking up bananas and yogurt and toilet paper.

Jenn? She was at the cash register, paying for a gift card.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what I thought about this. A half-dozen questions went through my mind, including:

What if that guy is dangerous?

What if he is offended by this act of charity?

What if he uses the money for something immoral and/or harmful?

The clerks must have been thinking the same thing, because when they learned that Jenn intended to give the gift card to the old man, they summoned her back.

I could hear the whispers while I signed my credit card receipt.

“Do you know him?” one of the clerks asked.

Jenn said she didn’t.

“Well,” the other clerk said, “have we got some stories about him for you!”

It was pretty obvious that the stories weren’t charming ones.

Just as I feared, I thought. This guy’s out of his mind.

But then, Jenn did the craziest thing. She laughed, covered her ears and said this:

“I’m sure you do have some stories,” Jenn said, still holding her hands over her ears. “But I’ve got to live this story. And I’ve got to learn my own stories about him.”

Now, mind you: I was only an observer, not a participant. But suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, a certainty that I was getting a front-row seat to someone else’s obedience.

Jenn turned around, walked over to the man, and along with our daughters, handed him a $25 gift card.

“For me?” he said. His eyes widened with surprise and appreciation.

Jenn said something about having seen him before, maybe at our country church for a Friday night supper we hosted for the community? The man nodded with recognition. “Oh yes!” he said.

They shared a few more words, and we left.

On the way home, Jenn and I talked about what the clerks said. I confessed some of my own reservations. And I told her about my sense of peace and inner conviction while she stepped out in faith.

“Who knows?” I said. “Maybe he didn’t need the gift card at all. Maybe he’s the richest man in town. But maybe that’s the first time in years that someone has shown him the love of Christ. Maybe that’s the first time that man has actually felt seen.”

I drove on home, thinking about all of that. I thought about how Jesus did ridiculous things all the time, and how his own family thought he was bonkers.

Read Mark 3:21: When (Jesus’) family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

Sometimes, we’re all called to be a little bit out of our minds.

You know what? We might never understand why God is nudging us. It may be for reasons far, far outside of our peripheral vision.

I’ve always said this: “When God asks us to do something, we are in charge of obedience. God is in charge of results.” But I confess: I haven’t always lived it. That day, I saw my friend live obedience.  

obedience

• • •

But the story doesn’t end at the store.

On Sunday, our family was out of town. Jenn was at our country church with her family.

She sneak-texted me that morning, from her pew, right before communion was starting. It was 10:20 a.m.  (Sorry, Pastor Rich.)

“Jennifer!” she wrote. “You’ll never guess who walked through the doors! The guy from the grocery store!”

He was wearing the same navy suit coat, with papers spilling out of the pockets. He had the same disheveled hair and dirty hands.

But that morning, he took a seat on a wooden pew, under a tall white steeple, with the family of Christ.

 

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is by new friend Bev. She has an encouraging post with this great line that I just had to share with you: “Too often I have been satisfied with a tootsie roll when God wanted me to have a Godiva bar.” Find Bev here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂

xo Jennifer


  • Mary

    What a lovely story! I have only felt the nudge once or maybe it should be I only acted on it once. My son was with me and I bought a tank of gas for the gentleman and his son. I have never bee more scared. However, you know it’s right when you feel that sense of peace afterward.
    P.S. I love that Beth Moore story. She is one amazing woman!

    • Awesome story, Mary. Thanks for sharing.

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  • BEST story. I’ve been criticized before for following up on The Nudge. But I always tell myself, God doesn’t tell me to ask if the person deserves it, he just askes me to give. So that’s what I do. I leave the rest up to Him. Love you, Jennifer – and your friend, Jenn, too. 🙂

    • I have been criticized before, too. And as an recovering approval addict, that gets in the way for me. I don’t want to be judged for doing something that appears irrational.

  • I love this story Jennifer! I’m not very good about obeying The Nudge. I need to learn how to ignore the cold sweat I break out in and follow God’s lead.

    • So glad to have you here, Laura.

  • I felt the nudge yesterday when I was walking out of the mall with my daughter and a little tiny whisper caught my ear, “Do you have any spare change?” An old man was being indiscreet, almost like he didn’t really want to ask. I kept walking, out the door, down the sidewalk and then the nudge wouldn’t leave me so I told my daughter to wait a minute and walked back. There is always spare change for the Kingdom. Love this story Jennifer. I’m coming back to link up. It’s been forever! xx

    • Soooo fun to see you hear again, Shelly!

      Also? Can I just say I love your heart. You walked back. That’s a beautiful picture of letting love lead.

  • Constance Ann Morrison

    So glad you shared this story with us. There are times (this week!) when I wonder if I’m hearing The Nudge or my own imagination gone wild, so I’m glad to be reminded of your experience of confirmation, the sense of peace and the conviction that this was God’s work. You are so right that we may or may not see the result of obeying, but when we do, isn’t it amazing?

    p.s.apologies for (another) goof on your site. Maybe we can pretend my photo for the linkup is of Angus cattle, at night, with no moon…

    • No worries about the goof. 🙂 You’re preapproved, m-kay? 🙂

      Thanks for being here and linking up. You’re such a blessing to this community.

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  • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    I’ve learned that God is always up to something when we are called to (a strange) obedience! I love this story ~ Praying now that the disheveled man comes back again and again to be filled with Christ!

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  • karen

    This makes my cheeks hurt from smiling! Answer the nudge…….. 🙂

    • Yay, to smiley, hurting cheeks! 🙂

  • kortney

    Wow Jennifer. I love this story. I am still learning to listen to those nudges. And listen-God has asked me to do some crazy things. Many times I’ve tried to stop my ears to those nudges. But oh, the times that I do listen to Him-it’s amazing. I don’t always see the end result, but it certainly is an adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    • I am still learning, too. I feel so childlike in my discernment. I wonder, “Was that God, or was that my inner crazy talking?” When in doubt, I let love lead.

  • This is a precious, heartfelt story. The nudge, I love that…yes, it scary, but somehow we don’t have a choice. God’s behind the scenes conducting the whole show, sending the lovely man with the papers to church on time! Beautiful!

    • Thanks for your presence here, Kathy. You’re a blessing to this community.

      • thank you, your encouragement really touched me deeply! I feel blessed, too, to be part of this lovely community. And so grateful for your hosting of #TellHisStory!

  • Wow… I just told my friend the hair brush story… A dying neighbor asked her to come and cut his hair… He is not a believer… And I love how your friend would not listen to the clerk … May we all just respond to God’s love in the moment!!! Thanks for sharing

    • Just perfect! Thanks for sharing that little story, Ro.

  • Kristi Woods

    Suh-weet! And yes, “The Nudge” scares me at times too. But truly….how dangerous we would all be if we simply obeyed.

  • Oh, precious. What a God-moment of grace and love, and your friend Jenn…:) Thanks for sharing her obedience with us.
    Bless you!
    Dawn

    • You are welcome, Dawn. Grateful for your presence here this week.

  • Beautiful. I’ve become more and more comfortable with my own nudges from the Lord. I love when He allows us to step into another person’s story for even a moment.

    • I think that with maturity of faith, we’re better able to discern the nudges, don’t you? Sometimes, I still feel like such a little kid in my faith, and I wonder: “Was that God, or was that my inner crazy talking?” When in doubt, I try to let love lead.

      Thanks, Kelly, for sharing your thoughts today.

  • Tara Ulrich

    Wow!! What a powerful story. Our words and our actions can and do make a difference. And I totally understand where you are coming from with the nudge, it scares me too. Yet I’ve seen some pretty incredible things happen with the nudge.

    • Mmmm… Yes. And sometimes we may have to wait all the way to heaven to find out what it really meant.

  • shughes

    One memorable time that our family followed God’s nudge was a couple of years ago. I work at a church and a local homeless woman who was always present at Bible studies and Sunday mornings had shared that she spent Thanksgiving alone. I felt God telling me to invite her to Christmas (if you knew my family, you’d understand what a leap this was for us). We invited , she said no but ended up joining us anyway. I saw a side of every family member that I have never seen before. And I saw God in that special lady.

    • What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it.

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  • Kristine Brown MTY

    I love the Beth Moore hair brush story:) And I’m with you, Jennifer. Sometimes that Holy Nudge makes me take a step back. I regret to say there are times over the years I’ve brushed the Nudge away, over-analyzing the situation and convincing myself not to listen. But once I began responding to the Nudge – oh my! God showed His grace and mercy in miraculous ways. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Grateful for your presence here, Kristine.

  • bethherring62

    We never go wrong when we follow the promoting of the Holy Spirit!!! Love this post so much!

    • It’s crazy-scary, but the God living within us is bigger than the obstacle standing in front of us. Thanks, Beth! So good to see you here! Hope you’re doing well.

      • bethherring62

        I should have linked my husband and my story about leaving the pastorate after 22 years and surrendering to missions last November! It was a huge step of faith as we live each day dependent upon Him and His provision! We leave Tuesday for Belize again and would appreciate prayers!! I am with my sister in Shreveport now as she is on the hospital again with pneumonia. Chemo and cancer are tough… Prayers for Cari as well please!!

        • Please feel free to link, Beth. … Adding you to my prayer journal now.

  • So awesome that the story didn’t end at the grocery store! The Nudge scares the daylights outta me, too. Would it be easier if we all heard a clear command, like Beth? I’m not sure that it would. Obedience is hard. We have to bend our wills to it. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning. An inspiring and encouraging post, Jennifer!

    • “We have to bend out wills to it.”

      Yes. Thanks for that, June.

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  • Mary Flaherty

    oh my word—I had intentions of posting three (not one, but three) of my latest posts, but after reading this story, I have to share my own “Nudge” story, an older post from last winter, based on Margaret Feinberg’s red balloon story in “Fight Back With Joy.” It’s so similar that I wanted to share it in the Linkup, not to boast, but to show how joyous it can be when we listen to God’s “Nudge”

    • So glad you shared, Mary! I’m glad you listened to the nudge and posted your own Nudge story!

  • Eva Bridges

    Thanks for sharing this. Living a life led by the Spirit is never easy and usually uncomfortable. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

    • You are welcome. Glad to have you here.

  • I also love that Beth Moore story. She is one of my fav teachers. It is very convicting. Mercy. I was so moved by your post. Blessings!

    • Thanks for being here this week, Carmen.

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  • Ellen Chauvin

    What a beautiful post. Oh, to always be brave enough to listen and act on The Nudge! Thank you for this encouragement.

    • You’re welcome, Ellen. A joy to have you here.

  • Jennifer,
    Yes, “The Nudge,” I get it…and I love how your friend Jenn obeyed and she listened and obeyed God and not what others were going to tell her about the man…Thanks for sharing this beautiful story…Praying for the grace to always follow the Spirit’s Nudge…and that Beth Moore story is precious.

    • I know, right? That story from Beth Moore is THE BEST. It gets me every time.

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  • Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration, as always, Jennifer. I’m going to be carrying this with me: “Sometimes, we’re all called to be a little bit out of our minds.”

    • 🙂

      WWJD?

      Get a little out of his mind.

  • Love this…I have not lived out obedience such as that in a while. I will pray for an opportunity! Blessings ♥

    • Praying for opportunities with you, Nannette. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Janet

    What a great story, Jennifer. I just recently started reading some of Beth Moore’s books. I love them. Sierra and I have the opportunity to see her when she comes to speak in Toronto in November with a group from the chapel on Ft Drum. Thank you for including the video clip – I hadn’t seen it – but what great laughing tears! I guess Jesus can be a little bossy – but in the best possible way!

    • “Jesus can be a little bossy” … Love that. 🙂

  • Oh, Jennifer! May I always act on the ‘nudge’! Thank you for sharing! I loved it!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    • Grateful for your presence here this week, Lori.

  • Gretchen Hall Mercer

    In 2011 I began to feel compelled to locate my high school boyfriend. We had not seen each other or spoken in all the years since 1968. The thought came in waves, with no luck for quite some time. Finally the day came where i saw his name on a new fb account. I noticed posts concerning well wishes. It was hard, but I got up the nerve to send him a private message telling him it was nice to see him on fb, asking how he was doing. He wrote back that he had stage 4 lung cancer. I wrote that I was a strong believer in the power of prayer and asked if I could help. His reply was, “Can you help me know Jesus better?” So I did.
    Nudges are incredibly powerful. Thank you so much for this story. It brought back beautiful memories for me today.

    • Wow, Gretchen! That is incredible. Praise God!

    • This is a fantastic testimony of The Nudge! Thank you for sharing.

  • So, it’s not yet 3 pm and after reading your post and watching that video I feel done for the day. Ready to have a good, hard cry. Ready to get down on my knees and ask God to prepare my heart for that kind of obedience, and then just crawl into bed. Done. (Of course the obedience required of me today is more about helping with homework, fixing dinner, and bathing dirty boys.) But oh, my. So so good. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. xoxo

    • Yeah. A lot of our obedience is in the ordinary stuff, right? Like it’s never going to make a compelling story that Beth Moore could tell to thousands. But the everyday, ordinary obedience has lasting results that pour out over the years. Good job, mama.

  • A group of sweet friends and I sat in my family room last night and talked about “the nudge.” How we feel it and brush it off – well, disobey – often when it’s for our very own good. I’ll spare you the story of how not listening left me flat on my face sobbing when I chose to shove through “the nudge” rather than heed it. Oh, to hear those stirrings and obey knowing that He is moving FOR us – and trusting that He doesn’t steer us wrong.

    • So glad these words were timed right for you, Tiffany. I’m not proud to say I’ve been on the disobeying end, too. I wonder what blessings I’ve missed seeing unfold?

  • Radical obedience. Oh that we all had that kind of bold confidence in The Nudges of God.

    • Yes! God-fidence kind of confidence.

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  • Great story. I love how you tell these everyday stories that make an extraordinary difference to both the reader and real-life participant. 🙂 And that image is such lovely.

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Your story, Jennifer, brought to mind this experience: Several years ago after Sunday worship, while enroute from the choir room to Sunday School, I happened upon a shabbily-dressed, unkempt man. He appeared (and smelled!) like one of the homeless who lived in the area. The man told me he was looking for the sanctuary. I explained that the first service was over, but there would be another at eleven o’clock. I felt compelled to ask him to join me for Sunday School, expecting him to turn me down. But he accepted. I learned his name was Robert. Afterward, I asked Robert if he’d like to attend the next worship service, and again he surprised me by saying yes. I attended with him; we sat near the back. Robert listened attentively, and at the end of the service shyly thanked me for coming with him. I had hoped we might see Robert again. To my knowledge, he never returned. But I pray that God used that morning in Sunday School and church to plant seeds in his heart which someone else was able to harvest.

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