Public speaking has never been a problem for me. In fact, I have been known to remind others that I’m not afraid to fly, not afraid to drive alone on long trips, not afraid to eat foods from other countries. And not afraid of the number one fear of most people: speaking to large groups.
Then one day, my supervisor asked me to give a devotion for one of our large group worship times at a nonprofit organization where I worked. I immediately wanted to say I couldn’t do it.
For some reason, speaking to large groups of people whom I know and see every day is different. And after all, in this group there would be pastors, supervisors, and even employees from other departments.
But that familiar nudge caused me to blurt out a yes before I could mutter a no.
Now all I had to do was determine what to use for my devotion. This shouldn’t be too difficult, I thought. With my years as a minister’s wife and my experience with public speaking since high school days, I knew I could do it.
More than anything, I wanted to glorify God and leave my co-workers with a strong message. I prayed for God to lead me, and then I left it in his hands.
That weekend before I was to give the devotion, I read an email message from a friend who is not a Christian. I felt a clutch around my heart as I read it.
He was telling me how his life was going well again because he had been dating a woman for seven weeks and his business was making a profit. All I could think about was his need for the Lord in his life. Keep praying for him. Never give up on him. The message was clear.
And then this verse from Isaiah came to mind: “Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
No matter what I have done, God has never given up on me. God loves me so much that He has written my name on the palms of His hands.
The same hands that received the nails on Calvary. The same hands that touched the eyes of a blind man. The same hands that created heaven and earth. The same hands that cooked fish for Peter after the resurrection.
Surely there are others at work who have a friend, a family member, a neighbor about whom they are concerned, I thought. How can I help my co-workers remember never to give up on those dear ones?
When I saw the permanent marker in the mug on my desk, I immediately saw myself giving the devotion I would give on Monday. There was the idea, a gift from God.
Monday morning came, and I was even more nervous than I had expected to be. Was this a stupid idea? Would everyone be laughing behind my back, or praying for my soul? No, I told myself, this was right.
After I read the verse from Isaiah, I talked about how there are some individuals in our lives whom we pray for more than others. Those are the ones who are far away from the Lord.
I began to see flickers of understanding on some faces. I passed the markers around the circle and invited them to write on the palms of their hands. Not the Bible verse, but the names — the names of those for whom they had been praying. For days, weeks, years. The loved ones who had not yet accepted the Lord.
Then I took it one step further. I asked them to pray for these lost ones throughout the day, every time they looked at the palms of their hands. I closed by saying that just as God never forgets us, we must always remember those who still need to come to him.
After worship time, a few friends came up to me and thanked me for the devotion. I thanked God for giving it to me.
But as the day went on, several co-workers made it a point to come to me and thank me for reminding them to pray. Others took time to show me their hands throughout the day: “Look, the names are still there,” or “My names wore off already, but I still remember them.”
Even though most of the names had worn off our hands by the end of the day, we know that our names never wear off the palms of God’s hands. And after we accept him as our Lord, our names still remain there because Jesus has written them there with his blood.
The best affirmation happened the following week. One co-worker had been praying for many years for her husband to come to the Lord. Of course, she had written his name on her hand during the devotion.
She came to me and told me that her husband had gone to church with her that week. “I might be able to cross his name off my list soon,” she said.
May our lost loved ones come to know the Lord before he returns. May we never give up praying for their salvation.
“Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel