In May 2020 I was asked to bring the morning message to my church for Mother’s Day. As I asked the Lord for a word to give for mother’s day I thought of Sarah, The Mother Who Waited, Hagar, The Mother Who Endured, Jochebed: The Mother with a Plan, I thought of Hannah: The Mother Who Kept Her Promise, and of course Mary the mother of Jesus. The names of biblical mothers are countless. I was led to the book of Job 1:1-12 coming from the Amplified edition of the Bible.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who reverently feared God and abstained from and shunned evil. And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a very great body of servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the East. His sons used to go and feast in the house of each on his birthday in turn, and they invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of their feasting were over, Job sent for them to purify and hallow them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed, or disowned God in their hearts. Thus did Job, at all times. Now there was a day when the sons of God, which were the angels, came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who reverently fears God and abstains from and shuns evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge about him, and his house, and all that he has, on every side? You have bestowed prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But remove Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face. And the Lord said to Satan Behold, all that he has is in your power, only upon the man himself, put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
I’d like to tell you about a young girl who loved the Lord with all her heart and with all her might yet she suffered pain and suffering for the majority of her life not realizing God had a hedge around her. So what do I mean by hedge? What’s a hedge?
In Bible days when shepherds wanted to fence in or hedge the sheep they used bushes with thorns on them to keep the sheep together or huddled up. These thorny bushes were not just to keep predators out, but to keep the sheep from wandering because of their tendency to wander. Who remembers the song Jesus build a fence all around me? So lets move on…
The first 5 years of her life were spent with an aunt who lived in Beverly Hills and worked in the entertainment field. So the young girl was exposed to movie stars and entertainers and a lavish lifestyle and culture. However, her favorite things to do were making sandcastles on the beach and going to Sunday School. When it was time to start school, her mother brought her back home and enrolled her. There were no more pool parties with the rich and famous. There were no more silk ribbons and patent leather shoes. Now it was an old beat-up couch in the back yard where she played, surrounded by tall weeds, and wearing denim overalls and shoes with no laces and an alcoholic step-father who beat her mother. But there were also two more children that she had to assist her mom with caring for. So her childhood was not like that of the children in the neighborhood. She cooked. She cleaned. She watched over her brothers and sisters. Yet she maintained strait “A”s in school with an occasional B. Each Sunday while her stepfather was recovering from a drunken binge from the night before, her mother would get her up early and send her to Sunday school, before he woke up, to refuse her going to church. This was the highlight of the young girl’s week, going to church. She grew up the oldest of eight children. Proverbs 22:6 says to Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”. God had a hedge around her.
Time passed and she married early to escape an abusive childhood. As a young married woman, she went on to have four beautiful children whom she loved and cared for deeply. She read stories to them at night and she took them faithfully to church and educational outings. She taught them how to love one another and others unconditionally and how to never go to bed angry with the other. She became very active in her church and was given the podium to speak and run revivals on many occasions. But because she was a woman, and it was the belief of men in the church that women were not called to preach, and especially behind the pulpit, so she was not officially ordained. But she could use the spiritual gifts God had given her to edify the church. She laid hands on the sick and they were healed. She uttered prophetic words to many, she cast out demons and saw them come out and flee. Unbeknownst to the church, this woman who always had a smile or kind word for someone, lived with an unfaithful husband, who was verbally abusive. After ten years of abuse and finally being physically struck the woman left with the children to start a life in another city. From time to time she would allow the children to visit their dad because he was however an excellent father and loved his children. She applied for aid, worked part time, and she enrolled in college and decided she would give them a great life once she received her degree and got into the work force.
One night she attended a revival and the traveling evangelist who did not know her called her to the front of a prayer line and he said to her. “Your life will be as that of Job’s. There will be many valleys and there will be tall mountains, and You will lose all that you have. But at the appointed time all will be restored, and it will be multiplied. Now the young woman did not know the story of Job although she had heard about him at church. So she left the revival that night not feeling any sad or fearful emotion but rather that of the praise and worship experience and the powerful preached message. A year passed and Her husband whom she was separated from asked if the children could spend the summer and she agreed. She never wanted to alienate the children from their father.
One day arriving home from school she had to sign for a certified letter. She opened it to read the many pages and at the end it said, “and in addition to the granted divorce, the father shall receive full custody of the children. This decision does not mean that the mother is unfit but that the father is in a better position financially to care for the four minor children.” What??? Her beloved children were gone??? How could he do this. She had forgotten all about the prophesy. But as much as she continued to spend time with the Lord, she was very broken and became distant and withdrawn to the world. Yet she vowed to trust God no matter what. She stayed in church. She continued to pray and praise.
She tried desperately to get them back but with no success. She was in her final year of her bachelor’s degree and Her grades begin to become D’s and F’s so she dropped out of college and joined the military to run away from the pain of not being able to be with her children or them wanting to talk to her when she called. How could this be? She’d been a loving and caring mother. She was broken but she wouldn’t let go of her faith in God. Joining the military was all a part of God’s orchestration in her life. Unbeknownst to her, His hand was off but the hedge was still there.
While in the military she excelled in her military occupation as a telecommunications center specialist instructor and was recommended by her commanding officer, to OCS – Officer Candidate School, where leaders are developed. No doubt she would have eventually excelled to the rank of major or Lieutenant Colonel. But by then she’d joined a professional gospel singing group on her off hours and decided to exit the military to travel and record with the group. God had a hedge around her and she was being set up for where he wanted to take her. She wrote songs for other choirs and groups as well as the group she sang with. Songs that became #1 or #2 on the national Billboard Music Charts. Her group was being played and heard across the land and abroad, and she was earning top dollar ministering all across the land and in music royalty checks. She attended and graduated from the prestigious Columbia School of Broadcasting where she also became one of its key instructors and believing life was truly sweet. The group was touring major venues. One day the manager and founder of the group said, “Ive decided to end the group and move on to other things.” What? Her singing career was over??? Not again!! She’d forgotten about the prophesy. She moved back to California aligned with a church home and went to work for the government. While there she received a call from a major record label VIP asking her to come to work for a major recording company. She packed her bags and moved. She became one of the movers and shakers in the gospel music industry representing artists such as Shirley Caesar, Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers, Richard Smallwood, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Clark Sisters, Albertina Walker, The Winans, and many others. Life was truly sweet. Blessings were chasing her down. While attending a major conference in Salt Lake City, Utah the woman received a call from the corporate office of the record label. They said they were promoting her and that when she returned to town she’d be in a bigger office down the hall from her current one. The young lady was elated. When she got back she begin packing up her office to move down the hall and lifted a box she thought was empty, pulled and tore some back muscles. She spent several months in therapy and recovery. Then her mother became very ill with a rare non-contagious illness and she flew back and forth to spend whatever time she could with her mother in the hospital. The company was about to re-locate to Nashville and her boss called her in one day and said, “ Im going to have to let you go because it seems you’re not going to be able to go with us. “ Little did he know that this was illegal…firing her while she was on disability leave. Little did the woman know that God was setting her up. God had a hedge around her.
Upon advice from a friend she sued the company and with the thousands she received in settlement, started her own gospel music trade magazine. A few years later she was approached by a multi-millionaire who had been following the magazine and her website which was the first of its kind on the Internet. Seeing major potential, he invested over half a million dollars into her business over a period, and it became the #1 gospel music trade magazine online and in print. She was giving visibility to major and independent artist, radio announcers, retailers, promoters and those VIP’s who otherwise never would have received any public recognition or accolades on the scale that they were now receiving. She introduced a simple radio show format and video to her online site. Something that was virtually unheard of on the world wide web. She had created a new medium and model for the gospel music industry and for a season gospel music was surpassing sales over R&B music. Her business was valued at over 10 million dollars. She praised God daily and sought direction in everything she did. She continued to maintain communication with her children although they remained bitter towards her. She prayed for them daily.
One day she received a certified letter from the investor requesting to buy her business for $60,000. What? Surely he was joking. What an insult!!! She went into prayer about it and received a “No”. Telling the investor “NO” sent him into a tail-spend and he angrily proceeded to put an immediate halt to all funding, contacted all her ad clients and the printing press and subscribers, and they believing he represented her, stopped their business. The website was hacked and sabotaged and a message saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS was all that it showed to the millions of readers who went there daily. She was publicly humiliated. The man she was now married to walked out, claimed that he could not deal with a woman who continued to love a God that put all of this on her and she kept serving him and lifting him up. Everything was gone overnight. The woman, now approaching her senior years, was extremely devastated and more broken. For years she’d tried to stay connected to her children but they’d grown bitter after being told she’d abandoned them. She had lost her mother, her children, her marriages, her music career, her major magazine and website. She had undergone verbal abuse from church members and some pastors. She’d seen eviction notices and spent time in a homeless shelter. She’d lost all of her personal possessions in storage. But through all of the suffering and all of the pain she never let go of her faith in God. She maintained her daily devotion time with the Lord. Her life had been like that of Job. She lost everything. She then remembered the end of the prophesy.. “But at the appointed time all will be restored, and it will be multiplied”. Through it all she never failed to have daily devotion with God first thing in the morning before starting her day and before going to bed each night. Her favorite scriptures from Psalm 119:11… Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You, and Second Timothy 2:15… Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. And Hebrews 11:1 … Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Became her mantras, those words she found comfort in during the trials and tribulations, the valleys between each mountain, and especially during her successes.
I want you to know today that the fence, the hedge that God has around you is not just to keep some things out that would cause you to fall but its to keep you from wandering away from him. He may keep you in a situation, but he allows you to choose whether or not to trust him.
Do you choose to trust God? Believe in him? Walk with him? Faith is a choice you have to make. In situations where it seems God is not there, can you say with conviction in your heart, “God I trust you, no matter what is happening in my life, when folks get on my last nerve, even tho my bills are due and I just got this little $600 stimulus check, I trust you oh Lord. No matter what it looks like, no matter what it feels like. No matter how bad it hurts. God I trust you even though you’ve equipped me for a larger ministry and there’s only 15 people sitting in the sanctuary. God I trust you.
Just like Job said, Tho he slay me, yet will I trust him. Will you trust God today? Will you say I choose to attend church when we open back up. I choose to pray in the morning before starting my day, knowing that the other stuff like the news and gossip conversations on the phone set the tone for the rest of the day. Isaiah said “With my soul, have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me, will I seek thee early”, David said in Psalms “Early will I seek thee” knowing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Its no coincidence that you are on this call today. God is speaking to you. Will you trust him?.
As I’ve shared my life story today, it is a testament to men and women of the deep love and protection and abounding blessings God has, not just for me but for us all if we just trust him. I now have weekly Zoom chats online with my children and grandchildren every Sunday night. I recently produced a hit album and manage a phenomenal recording artist who is loved and respected by many. I am rebuilding my business and during this pandemic I was blessed with a brand new 2020 Nissan sports car. This time last year I was in a homeless shelter. Today I live in a beautiful apartment in Bixby Knolls, a suburb of Long Beach a few miles from the ocean. I have everything I need and my cup runneth over. Please know that Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. His Hand was off but the hedge was still there.
I’d like to end with this It’s not the destination that is important it’s the things that happen along the way. That’s where you get your wisdom, that’s where you get your ministry, that’s where you get your tenacity, that’s where you get your unkshun, that’s where you get your fight. God will not let you show up at your destination until you’ve been thru your journey. Wherever you are on your journey right now, is all good. Because even if his hand is off for a season the hedge is still there.
Dr Joyce Logan