A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
Life throws a lot of choices at us, and sometimes they are more important than we realize.
I remember one late evening when I suddenly had to make a life-altering decision by 8:00 o’clock the next morning.
I was 18 years old. I would start my sophomore year at Wheaton College in another week. But that night my father asked me to take a semester out of college to travel with him to his city-wide evangelistic campaigns, do his secretarial work, play the piano for the services, and handle the book table after the services.
It was a marvelous opportunity to do God’s work. I respected and loved my father, and I shared his burden to reach people with the Gospel. But I loved attending Wheaton, a Christian school, and I was learning so many new things, enjoying new friends, and growing spiritually. I really desperately wanted to stay in school. I had to make the decision before 8:00 the next morning, when the train would pull out of the station for Oklahoma.
As I prayed through that turbulent night, I knew that unless I was really willing to do whatever God told me to do, He wouldn’t show me what His will was. Jesus said, in John 7:17, “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.” I really did want God’s will: I knew I could trust Him; but what was His will?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
Do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6
At dawn that Saturday morning, I still didn’t know what God wanted me to do. I decided I would trust my father’s judgment. It seemed to me like a detour in my life. But I packed my suitcase and caught that 8:00 train for Oklahoma with him.
In those months of traveling, I was lonely, carrying a heavy load. I was at my desk in my hotel room by 8:30 every morning, transcribing Daddy’s dictation all day, then evenings at the arena where the services were held, seven days a week. It was a wonderful time of spiritual growth and of seeing many people come to know Jesus. I learned to know my father more intimately and to respect and love him even more and to appreciate his great ministry. But sometimes, when I had a moment to feel sad, I did! I would ask God, “Is this lonely life all You have planned for me?”
In that lonely time, on Thanksgiving Day in Seattle, Washington, an elderly couple asked if they could take Daddy and me sight–seeking. To my surprise, my father agreed. (Usually he said, “No; thank you; we’re here to preach the Gospel, not to sight-see.”) It turned out the couple had a son attending Wheaton. And when I tell you their name was Handford, you’ll know how this story is going to end!
Ordinarily, I think, Walt and I would not have crossed paths on the Wheaton campus. He was into science, archaeology, electronics, theology; I was wrapped up in literature and music. But Walt’s mother wrote him an enthusiastic letter about me. Walt looked me up, and my life was forever changed.
We chose Psalm 32:3 to shape our lives and ministry: “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” We had the joy of doing just that together for 67 years.
God has a perfect plan for you, even if you are uncertain what it is. His plan will give you great joy. You may not be certain of what it is. But you can trust Him, always, always, that it will be good. So wait for Him to show you. He will, when you accept His plan for your life with all your heart.