~ Especially for Young People ~

Finding Favor in the Eyes of the Lord

By Sister Millie Stegmeier


Cultivating Your Relationship With the Lord

Young person, God wants to set you in the body of Christ. You may think, "I don't know what my place is. I don't have much talent." God has a place for you in the body of Christ; He has a wonderful position for you to fill. The best thing you can do is to pray and seek God's face and ask Him what He would have you to do. I can tell you from experience, when you begin to ask God what He would have you to do, He will tell you. If you do not want to know, do not ask Him, because He will tell you.

I was privileged to be a young person on God's Acres, and I have precious memories that I treasure. You are in the process of making memories right now, and they will be very valuable to you in life. I can remember walking out across the campgrounds and talking with the Lord, saying, "God, you know about my life. I don't know where I am going. I don't know what Your plans are, but I know that my desire is to fit into Your plans." I am so thankful that I talked to the Lord that way, because He has given me such a beautiful life. He has given me above that which I could have ever thought or asked for.

Young person, you are in the dreaming stages. You do not know what God has for you. I remember some dreams that I had when I was a teenager, and I remember the disappointments I had. I know a little about how you feel, what your thoughts are, and the questions in your mind. Let me encourage you. The most important thing you can do is to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We could go through the Bible and read experience after experience of those who found favor in the eyes of God, and obtaining His favor today is possible for you. You do not have to wait until you have graduated from high school or college. You do not have to wait until you find a boyfriend or a girlfriend, a husband or a wife, and then say, "Well, now I will settle down and work on my experience." There is no better time than the present to begin to cultivate your relationship with the Lord. How do you develop a friendship? By spending time with someone. As you talk together, you learn about each other's interests, you learn how each other thinks, and you learn how each other reacts.

Often I tell my piano students, "You need to form a friendship with the piano. You need to get to know the piano and get to know what music is all about." When you form a friendship, often it is a beautiful bond for life. That is the way it is with the Lord. You need to get to know Him, and it all starts with being born again. When you are born again, God comes into your life, and that is truly a miracle and a beautiful experience; but it is only the beginning. From there you need to learn who Jesus is. He already knows who you are. The Bible says the very hairs of your head are numbered. Think of that! That Scripture is in the Bible partly to let us know how concerned God is about the tiniest details of our lives.

Christ has likened our relationship with Him to that of a bride and bridegroom. So much of what we put into practice in spiritual matters is applicable to our home lives when it comes to submission and the way we treat each other. That is how it is with the Lord. You want to get well acquainted with Him. You cannot hide anything from Him, even if you think you might want to or if you are a little embarrassed about something in your life. Hopefully, you do not want to hide anything from Him. As a mother, often I have said, "Whenever you have to hide something, that is a sure sign that it is wrong." If you are thinking that you need to do something on the sly, remember that it is wrong and you ought to refrain from it.

Keeping God's Commandments

I would like to encourage you to read the Book of Proverbs. It is a wealthy Book in the Bible. The entire Bible is wonderful, but I think the Book of Proverbs is especially good for the youth to study. Proverbs 3:1-4 says: "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour [This is the way to find favor with God. Learn what the Word of God says, hold it close to you, bind it about your neck, and write it on the table of your heart and you shall find favor.] and good understanding in the sight of God and man."

God gave His Word as a road map for our lives. It has the answers for any problem that you could ever encounter. Young person, you need to find time in your busy schedule to read the Scriptures and meditate on them. If you can read the Bible in the morning, God will bring what you have read back to your mind throughout the day, and it will be just what you need.

In thinking back to when I was a freshman in college, one morning at the breakfast table, I opened the Word and read the Scripture, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). That day I needed to take a stand for the Lord in one of my classes, and I felt very intimidated in the situation. However, God brought that Scripture back to my mind on the spur of the moment: "Endure hardness; don't be ashamed. Square your shoulders for Jesus Christ." It gave me that special impetus and what I needed for the moment so that I did not cower down. That is just how God works through His Word. He will give you exactly what you need to fight every battle in this life.

You need to trust in the Lord with all your heart. You can safely trust in Him. Sometimes young people have said to me, "I want a Christian companion. I want to trust the Lord, but what if He gives me someone ugly?" Have you ever had that thought? God will not do that. The person God gives you will be the most beautiful person in the world in your eyes. That is just how God works. God will give you the very best.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." God wants you to acknowledge Him, and He really will direct your paths. The burden of my heart is to let you know from the voice of experience that God wants to direct you in your life right now. Are you seeking God's face for direction in your life? Are you talking to Him about the really personal things of life? You need to, because God knows.

The Importance of Listening to God

I used to think, "I want a husband." You must wait until God brings the right one along. I remember telling my dad, "I am going to be an old maid. I don't have a husband, and everyone else does." Dad used to say, "Busy yourself in the work of the Lord. Do everything you can do for God. He knows that is a desire and a need in your life, and He will fulfill it." Sister, God made you to want to have a husband. By nature, a Christian young lady wants someone to take charge of the affairs of her life. My husband did not have to teach me that; it is a natural tendency. God designed us to be that way. You really need to talk to God about getting the right companion. You should do as much talking to God about it as you do to your friends. This is so extremely important.

I am going to tell you of an experience that I had. There was a fellow in my life at one point. He was very nice, and he was a nice-looking fellow. Also, he was very serious about the things of God. I remember his going to Honduras to help build buildings years ago. I was probably eighteen or nineteen years old. Our dating consisted of going to the house of worship, and he came to our home and visited. I thought maybe I had found the right one, but I kept talking to God, because I did not want to make any mistakes. (One thing worse than not having a man is having the wrong man, so you do not want to make a mistake.) God was mindful of where I was.

I was a sophomore in college. I had already met my husband, but he just came in for camp meeting and lived way out West. He was horrible about writing letters, and he called me on the phone once a year. I thought he was the neatest person I had ever met, but I wondered why he did not keep in touch. I thought that I must not have meant anything to him. Meanwhile, I was spending time with another young man.

One day God said to me, "This is not the right one." It was just astonishing to me, so I was thinking, "Okay, he is not the right one. There must be a good reason why he is not the right one." Well, there was a very good reason, but God did not choose to tell me. He just said, "This is not the right one." I thought, "Now what am I supposed to tell this fellow? What reason am I supposed to give him?" He was such a mannerly, respectful young man. That was a really difficult situation. One minister came to me and said, "You know, you really hurt that fellow by dropping him like a hot cake." Well, God just kept putting that on me, and I could not get away from it. When I prayed, it would come back again. So, as kindly as I knew how, I had to tell him that I could not spend time with him anymore.

Nothing took form quickly with the man who later became my husband. Several years down the road, we did begin to correspond a little more. As time went on, my heart grew fonder, and apparently his did too, because it culminated in marriage.

You know, the other young man to whom I am referring is now in a very drastic state of life, and he is out in Babylon. I am so thankful that God spared me, and I am so thankful that I knew enough to talk to God, and that I listened. He was a very sincere young man when I was with him. I did not know what the future held, but God did. To me, that is very personal. It is very dear to me that God took time to work with me and did not let me just go on my own foolish impulses. He cared and directed my footsteps because I listened to Him.

God Is Fashioning the Right Companion for Your Life

Young person, God knows your end from the beginning. Who would not want to go to God and communicate with Him when He has all the answers and knows the future. You only know what a person is today. You need to tune your ears in and listen to Him. There is no time in life when you can cease listening to God. All the experiences I have passed through in life are not enough to take me on to Heaven. You do not know what the future holds. You need God.

I am so extremely thankful that God gave me a companion who felt the same way I did. When my husband and I were dating, our courtship was spent at camp meetings, revivals, in his home, and in my home singing around the piano. Honestly, he would have me singing until I was ready to drop in a faint. I thought, "I believe this man would sing twenty-four hours a day!"

When he called me on the telephone, he always forgot the two-hour difference in time, so the phone calls often came at two or three o'clock in the morning. He apparently did not care, and I surely did not when I heard his voice on the other end. Often our time on the telephone was spent with him playing the piano and singing to me some new song he had just discovered. It may sound foolish to you, but it was wonderful to me. Every time we were together, our conversations centered around God's Word. The most beautiful thing was that we understood God's Word alike, because we had the same Spirit.

As I was growing up, I thought that God would give me someone from Newark and that we would spend the rest of our days there. Why did He have to bring someone from eighteen hundred miles away? I do not know, but He was fashioning that man to be the perfect man for me many years before He brought us together.

Young person, God is fashioning the right companion for your life. You just need to talk to Him and find out who he or she is. In the meantime, you need to deepen your roots in the things of God and spend your days serving Him. You cannot go wrong, because when you get the right one, you will have a jewel of a person. God is going to be working with that person too. Starting this process very early is really important, because marriage is a wonderful, divine creation from God, and it is so fulfilling.

When I was a teenager, I wanted twelve children, but God saw that seven was what I needed, and that is what He gave me. That is so fulfilling. When I had a child, I would think, "Oh, I hope God gives me another one. Children are so wonderful." And then God would give me another one. I remember after my first child was born, he was just the dearest little person in my life. I took him with me everywhere I went, and David took him with him everywhere he went.

Allowing God to Direct Your Steps

God gives us wonderful blessings in life. If I go back and think about what all I wanted in life, and then I think of what God has given me, He has not left one of my needs unmet. That only comes by seeking God's divine will and living in the center of His will. Jeremiah 10:23 says, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." No matter how learned you are, you are not capable of directing your own steps. God wants to direct your steps.

Prayer is such a wonderful thing. You can cultivate a close relationship with the Lord. The Bible says we need to be instant in prayer. We read in Romans 12:12, "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." You do not have to have long, drawn-out prayers. Now, sometimes you do need to spend a long time with God in prayer, but as far as God is concerned, God knows your need before you even ask.

No doubt, your life is very busy. Perhaps you are in school and you work nights. So, how do you get prayer built into your day? Cultivating the habit of praying and spending special time alone with the Lord is wonderful, but you can also pray throughout your day, even when you are driving the car. You can learn to pray wherever you are. I have special memories in my life of specific times when I was praying. I could take you to the high school where I graduated, to a spot in the hall where I really needed help from God. As I was walking through crowded halls, I remember having my own private conversation with God, and I remember God hearing and answering my prayer. You do not have to be in a specific setting to pray.

Sometimes the devil tries to really pull one over on us, by causing us to think we have to be in a kneeling position in a closet with the door shut behind us. No, you can talk to God anywhere. Sometimes people think I am silly when I say, "I love to wash dishes." I have a dishwasher now, but I have not always had one. I love to wash dishes, because while I wash dishes, I can talk to God and meditate on the things of God. I grow through meditation.

Do you meditate? I am not talking about some weird kind of yoga meditation. I am speaking of wholesome meditation—being quiet and saying, "God, what do You have to say to me today? Lord, I have this problem, and I don't know how to solve it. I need to hear from You." Then just be quiet. Finding those times is difficult. Sometimes I meditate and think upon the goodness of God. It builds me up spiritually and makes me feel so good. It often gives me the strength that I need to fight the battles of life.

Hearing God's Still Small Voice

Cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is so important. No one can take that personal relationship away from you. Only you can let go of it. You will pass through some very difficult scenes of life. I am not telling you that to frighten you, but I believe in being realistic. I am realistic with my children at home. Sometimes Mom is hurting, and they say, "What's wrong with you, Mom?" and I just spill it out. I say, "I am hurting, because this and this happened, and it hurts. I need to ask God to help me." I tell them how real life is, because I think they need to know. They need to know that I am a human being just as they are, and I am just as dependent upon God as they are.

There will be times in your life when you will not know which way to go, but you have an avenue. If you cultivate your friendship with God, He will be your best friend, and you can call on Him and say, "God, this is totally baffling." Then you will hear a voice whisper to you. Someone may try to influence you in the wrong way, but you do not need to be led astray, because God is faithful.

In thinking of our thirty years in the ministry and the decisions my dear husband has had to make from time to time, I can recall times when he had to separate himself from anything that I would say or any influence that I would cast on his life, because the decision involved people who were very dear to me; yet he was responsible for my spiritual welfare. I am so thankful that he did not listen to my groaning and my human feelings. He separated himself and listened to the voice of God, and then gave that direction to me. I appreciate it so much. The voice of God has always been faithful to give us the direction we have needed at the right time.

I am not afraid of going astray. What I am afraid of is ever releasing my grip on the hand of God. I fear to ever let go of His hand. I fear displeasing God in my thoughts, my actions, or my attitudes. This is what life is all about, young person: obeying God, listening to Him, pleasing Him, and watching Him bring to pass beautiful things in your life.

Another Scripture tells us that we need to labor to be accepted of God. In serving God, there is some work involved, some denying of self, and some things to lay aside; but God will be faithful to prick you on the shoulder and say, "You know, it would be a little better if you didn't do this. It would be better if you were a little more careful of how you are dressing." I learned years ago that I did not like that uncomfortable feeling that the Spirit of God causes one to have at times, when maybe what one was doing was not wrong but was getting too close to it. I learned that it was much better to please God.

I remember back many years ago when I first heard the message on long hair and that it is given to the woman for a glory. There was a fight going on inwardly when I first heard that message. The fight was, "I don't know what to do with my hair. You mean, I should never cut it again? How am I going to fix it in the front and in the back?" All these thoughts whipped through my mind in a moment's time. I did not like that inward strife that was going on, so it did not take me too long to say, "Wait a minute! If the Word says I need to have long hair, I need to have long hair. Quit the quibbling. Lord, I want to obey You. Would You help me?"

God's Loving Care

Soon after my husband and I were married, he moved me off into the mountains of Montana. I was very much a city girl, a very afraid city girl. He moved me into a darling, little, three-room cabin on a mountainside in a town of thirty-two people. There was a very fast-moving stream coming down by our bedroom window. Our bedroom window was open all the time, and you could hear that rushing water; it was a neat sound.

My husband was used to going up in the mountain and praying, so when he moved me there, he said, "Let's go pray." Trying to be a good, little, submissive wife, I trekked up the mountain with him to pray. When we got to the spot that he had picked out, I was looking around for mountain lions in the trees and bears behind us. I had a hard time shutting my eyes. Finally, we had to come to an agreement. I said, "Honey, you can go up the mountain to pray if you want to, but please let me stay in the bedroom to do my praying." I could not pray up there. I had to watch while he prayed, because I was afraid.

Then, he took a job working in a lumber mill all night long. He would leave me at ten or eleven o'clock at night and not come home until seven in the morning. I could not sleep. The bears often got in our garbage can right outside the window. He thought that was the neatest sound to have those bears rattling the garbage can right outside our bedroom window.

I learned a Scripture during that time, and I have never forgotten it to this day. It was Psalm 4:8, which says, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." I would say that Scripture repeatedly until finally my eyelids closed, but the Lord was with me there. Wherever we have gone, God has been with us, and we have continued to acknowledge Him in our lives. He has directed our paths. That is the beauty of it all. I do not know how many more days or years I have to live for Him, but my greatest intentions are to continue walking with God and walking in the order of His will. God has given me an abundant life, and I know He is going to continue to do so. Do you know what? He is no respecter of persons. However insignificant you may feel, God is concerned about you, your life, and your future. He really cares about you.

Let us read a Scripture from the Amplified Version. Isaiah 49:15-16 says: "[And the Lord answered] Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed) a picture of you on the palm of each of My hands. O Zion, your walls are continually before Me."

Did you know that God has a picture of you in the palms of His hands? That is how special you are to Him. You are always before His mind; He cares about you. I feel His care and concern in my own life, and God is no respecter of persons. He cares for you. Young person, if you feel discouraged and feel that you have failed, you can pick up where you left off.

I could talk all day of the wonderful goodness of our Lord and how He has been with us, how He has helped, and how He has guided us; but I want you to experience that too. That is the deepest desire of my heart. I trust that you will submit your heart and life to Jesus Christ.

(Cassette C-4467A)

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