"And Joseph was brought down to Egypt...."
Here I was....stuck in Indonesia! I had come at the request of a pastor in Malaysia to minister at a pastor's conference. We had a good 3-day meeting, but afterwards I learned that I could not speak in any other meetings, as I needed a permit...and I could only get one in Jakarta, a long way off. And so my travel companion, Melanie and I were housed in a large house waiting instructions from the Lord as to what to do. It was very hot, no fan, no air conditioning. I could not even go to the marketplace with Melanie because they would then charge us 4-5 times the price when they saw me.
"Why don't we go to Lake Toba?", Melanie suggested. "Lake Toba?" "Yes, it is a very popular resort place here on this island" she explained. I replied, "But Melanie...we have no money for that, nor any transportation." And so we quickly dropped that idea.
But the next morning, a car arrived with a man and his wife. "Mrs. Adams, would you please come to minister to a woman that is 100 years old?" "Of course", I replied. 100 or 10...it would not have made a difference. "But you must understand...this woman is the queen of the Batok Toba tribe here in Indonesdia...very famous. Her grandfather's picture is on the Indonesian dollar bill. But she is a very bitter woman, and curses and swears. She hates the Dutch for killing her father, and her deceased husband for his infidelities. Her daughter and family are saved, but they are wanting to see her saved also, as she is getting very old" they explained.
And so the next day we went to the house. It was like a palace...beautiful. And as I walked along the walls looking at pictures of dignitaries, I wondered how God would use me here in this place. I was also bothered...how do I act in front of a queen? Do I bow?
She was a dried up old woman
Suddenly, they brought this woman into the room....in a wheelchair! She was a dried-up old woman, not at all as I envisioned a queen would appear. I was praying what to do. but as I sat down beside her the Holy Spirit prompted me to put my hand on her arm and say these words, "Let me tell you about my mother...."
My early years, when I think about them, were a traumatic time. Both my mother and father were dead by the time I was 3 years old, leaving behind four children. So I never really knew them as my parents, nor my sister and brothers as family...they were only a story I never got to read. But I knew this much; we were poor....dirt poor. America was still in the grips of a depression...and most families pooled their resources and made out the best way they could. But I can remember that I never lacked for playmates with so many cousins around, and learned early to accept the floor as my mattress and beans and rice as my meal. However, having not experienced anything better, I was content and felt the love of doting relatives who met their struggles with never a hint of despair (at least in my tender ears). In later years, I would always remember how it is possible to lose our joy when we have an abundance of material things...and how to be content "with such things as ye have."
But I was not long in this situation. An aunt of mine had married a man of great ambitions who had ventured into Texas as the oil boom of the 30's was in full sway. He soon was making some success in some of his gambles; but they would lead them both into a life of parties, drinking, and wickedness of all sorts. Another couple had been their best of friends, but the wife was a Christian and was not happy with her husband's drinking...even though he ended up making them millionaires. It was through her that I came to live in a small west Texas town. My aunt had casually mentioned how I had been orphaned, and she knew of a family in her church that was without any children. That is how I became adopted and went to live in a most dysfunctional home.
Child, do you suffer over things in your past that were beyond your control? Have you pondered why you had to go through so much pain and sorrow in your life? I am sure Joseph did...taken from his home and sold into slavery, enduring an unjust thirteen years of imprisonment. Yet God was with him! And though we sometimes think of ourselves as abandoned...I am convinced that it is truly a plan at work in our lives; and when we can see His love through every trial, like Joseph, we can come to understand and know "God meant it for good."
There is a plan at work in our lives
I often felt like a stray cat someone picked up to satisfy a sudden whim. My adopted mother never had children of her own, and after a succession of miscarriages, she and my father had given up. Now, as I look back, I can see that perhaps the reason for that misfortune was deeply rooted in her bitterness. As a young girl about to graduate from high school, she had set her sights on college. The oldest of seven children, this would be her opportunity to escape the load on her shoulders of caring for the younger siblings, and running the household for her sick mother.
It was then that devastating news was announced: her mother was again pregnant! Now she must abandon her dream altogether...and when the newest baby arrived, he was not a welcome sight in her eyes. A spirit of extreme bitterness overtook her, to the extent that she never let any of her brothers and sisters forget how much they "owed her." "If it hadn't been for me..." was her favorite saying. She carried this to such an extreme, that some 50 years later, she would not even sit with the family at her baby brother's funeral...still reminding herself, "if it hadn't been for him!" And now I had joined the ranks...yet her pride would keep her from accepting me as anything more than a substitute for children she was unable to bear herself.
As I grew up in this environment, I came to realize that there was nothing I could do to make her accept me as a daughter. Once, after inheriting a beautiful antique mirror, she called me to come look at it. "Do you know that you cannot inherit this mirror...it is a family treasure, and you do not have my blood...therefore it cannot be passed on to you." I was constantly reminded of my "bad blood"...as coming from a lower class of dirt farmers and poor workers. My sense of worth got lost in this jungle of circumstances beyond my control. Would I never have anyone to love and accept me? And as I approached my teenage years, I became so despondent, I withdrew into a shell...though outwardly I struggled with some success by acquiring friends outside her "approval."
Isn't this really the reason a lot of young people end up leaving home for acceptance elsewhere? Sometimes we are so busy with our own aspirations and selfish thoughts we forget what is going on in the hearts of those around us. Children, especially, can be cute and adorable as babes...but when they later become gangly "problems," the novelty wears off quickly. And they soon understand they were but a stray "kitten" that has become a cat with not much appeal anymore, especially when the litter box needed emptying.
When I was old enough to leave home, I wanted to go back to my roots...to find out about my real mother and father. And so, as many do, I drove back and looked up that aunt that had found me a home. I met other relatives and began to inquire about the circumstances of their untimely deaths. At first, no one wanted to talk much about my mother...and I was to learn why when I pressed for details. She had died of an abortion.
It Could Have Been Me She Destroyed
I was stunned. For immediately the thought came blasting through my pre-conceived hopes that I had been of some worth to someone. Perhaps, but then it could have been me she destroyed. I was devastated at this revelation and walked away, never to return again.
Oh dear child....do you think you are the only person to feel your kind of pain? The world is full of sad and tragic stories. Some people never get over them. Some walk around with bitterness all of their lives, never knowing how God sent Jesus to heal the brokenhearted...to bind up our wounds. But at that time, I did not know that could ever be possible for me, and embarked on a life of grabbing for anything that brought me the slightest pleasure...no matter how sinful it was nor how much it never seemed to satisfy for long. These were the dark years of searching....until one day I came to know Jesus.
Back to my adopted mother. One of my most precious memories is how she too came to know Him. My experience with Him had so dramatically changed me I so desperately wanted it to change her. All the bitterness and sorrow I had accumulated in my mind and spirit over these traumatic events had come crashing down in a pool of tears ... for you see, no matter how I might have justified my hatred, my unforgiveness ... I had become her "clone" and was more related in her spiritual bondage than I could have ever been as her actual child.
I had to look at ME...and to come to the Cross and repent. I had actually been given the same circumstances as her...a chance to develop hatred and live a life of bitterness...and fallen into the same trap. Joseph languished in prison for a long, long time. Yet we read where he used that time to draw near to God, to develop into a spiritual man that would soon come forth as the one to save his own family. And so it was, the stone was rolled away after my time of dying to self, and though it would be years down the road before I saw any changes...I began to pray earnestly for my mother.
At first she mocked me as being "a religious fanatic." At the mention of "Jesus" I saw her shake violently in rage. She wanted no part of my experience, not choosing to believe. And so I avoided this subject, opting to leave her instead at the feet of the Lord through my prayers. Years went by, with no visible change. But one day, when she was 90 years of age, she fell and broke her hip. I went to the hospital to visit with her. How it grieved me that she had rejected the very one who could miraculously heal her and change her heart...and as I walked down the hospital corridor and came to the door to her room I actually dreaded the next hour. Standing in the doorway, I looked at this frail, tiny woman. What a pitiful sight! Yet I was overcome with compassion that I knew was not of myself...how I wanted to embrace a REAL MOTHER!
Suddenly, she turned to see me. There were tears in her eyes...something I had never witnessed before. And then the most awesome thing happened....lips trembling, she said to me "Mary, would you pray for me?" ME? Pray for her? My mother actually asked me to PRAY FOR HER?? I was speechless and awestruck. Was I actually hearing this?
God Allowed Me to Pray For My Mother
I walked to the other side of her bed, placed my hand in hers, and prayed FOR MY MOTHER! Oh dear ones, I do not have the words to describe the utter joy and happiness of that moment! For it was truly a miracle of God. So much broke apart in both of us...I held her small body in my arms as Jesus made us of ONE BLOOD in that hospital room. From that moment until she reached the age of 103, my mother became full of love, joy, and happiness to all around her. She began to write me of how proud she was to have a daughter, a daughter serving God all over the world. Until the day she died, I was her daughter.
Joseph spent 13 years in that prison house...my mother had 13 years of REAL LIFE before she died. For you see, dear one...it is through our trials we find ourselves as captives, or we come to understand the plan of life that sets us free.
After telling all of this to that Indonesian queen, she suddenly burst out with curses; "I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THE DUTCH! THEY KILLED MY FATHER! AND MY HUSBAND HAD MANY WOMEN...I CANNOT FORGIVE HIM EITHER!"
A heavy weight descended in our hearts...but I said to her, "Don't you understand...if you do not forgive, neither can Jesus forgive you." She would look at me strangely, then began to curse and swear again. I would talk to her some more...trying to persuade her. I realized that I was battling a spiritual war with Satan for her soul. So on and on it went for some time. Finally, I said to her "You know, you have wasted my time coming here. You much prefer to die and not make heaven your home. Don't you see the faces of your daughter and family, how they grieve for you...because they love you so much. They asked me to come talk with you. They do not want you to die and go to hell."
Suddenly, she looked startled...as if this thought had never occurred to her. There were tears as she looked at her family members.....and in an awesome moment I shall never forget, this old queen broke down, crying, and said to them all..."forgive me. I forgive the Dutch, and I forgive my husband too." There were tears everywhere in that room as they all embraced. And then I lead this old queen in a sinner's prayer. The room vibrated with the utter rejoicing of this family.
When she finally left the room, her daughter said to us, "What are you doing the next three days?" We explained our situation...that we could not do anything at present. "How would you like to go to Lake Toba? We have a resort up there and family rooms. You could use the auditorium to speak to my people, and we can go around the island ministering to them." Melanie and I looked at each other, speechless. "OF COURSE WE WILL GO!" I said.
So after a lobster dinner that night in the best restaurant in town...we left the next day.
MARY E. ADAMS