John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)
My dear friend, Shirl, was close to the end of her agonizing struggle with multiple sclerosis, family breakdown, and abandonment, when she asked me to write her life story. It was her hope that women, who were suffering in any manner, would read about her fight and her ultimate victory, and would find the comfort and strength that she had found in knowing that the Lord was with her every step of the way.
I had a hard time watching the agony she endured, but I was blessed over and over again as I saw God tenderly work out His plan for her life. Because of her total commitment to her God and her tenacious trust in Him, many came to know Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour.
I completed my first draft while she was still alive, but before I could get it published, she quietly passed away.
I shall never forget the expression of love on her face that evening, as she took my hand and whispered what was to be her final farewell to me: "Goodnight, my dearest friend. I'll see you in the morning." Then she quietly closed her eyes.
As I finished giving the eulogy at Shirl's celebration of life, I vividly recall looking up through my tears and declaring with certainty, "I'll see you in the morning, Shirl." Thus her book received its name.
But there was someone who did not want this book to be published, namely the one who comes only to steal and kill and destroy: the enemy of every believer. We call him Satan.
I thought that it would only be a few months before the manuscript would be ready for publication, since all I had to do was change the ending. However, I badly underestimated the devious plans that Satan would work out to trip me up. He knew that this book was for the sole purpose of glorifying God, and he began to pull out his big guns in a series of events.
The two computer programs that I had used to write the story were incompatible. The publishing company finally managed to merge them.
As I worked with an editor to revise the manuscript, my computer began to substitute blank pages for completed pages. I became so tired of having to re-type the pages that had mysteriously disappeared, I was ready to quit.
A replacement computer crashed within two days, and I was given another computer. But several of my photos, documents, and chapters of my manuscript were lost in the transfer of data from one computer to another. Within a few days, I found that my second computer was worse than my old one. It continually challenged my patience as it mixed up sentences and page alignment, deleted paragraphs overnight, and kept inserting words in all of the wrong places.
On a trip to Florida, I tore all of the ligaments in my right knee and was chained to a walker. As if that weren't enough, I was severely bitten by sand fleas, and the anti-itch medication made me sleep a lot.
Finally, I woke up and took the whole frustrating situation to the Lord in prayer. Within a short time, the manuscript was ready for its final submission. The enemy was defeated when the name of Jesus came against him, and the final draft was printed.
I believe that total commitment to God's will was both the foundation and the force that kept Shirl faithful, and brought her through physical and emotional suffering to a glorious victory in Jesus, her Lord and Saviour. As it was for me in the two-year project of finishing her story, her way of life given over totally to the will of God is the challenge for every reader. What does total commitment mean to you?
Prayer: Father, in these days of increasing evil and its challenge to stand boldly and completely for Jesus, give us the courage to say, as Shirl so often did, "Not my will, Father, but Yours be done in my life." Amen.
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Listen while you read: "There Were Ninety And Nine" (Lyrics)