BOOK DETAILS

When God Makes Himself Known

When God Makes Himself Known

by Shearon Epps

ASIN: B075FXCG9Q

Publisher Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.

Published in Christian Books & Bibles/Literature & Fiction, Christian Books & Bibles/Christian Living, Religion & Spirituality/Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

“When God Makes Himself Known” from Christian Faith Publishing author Shearon Epps is an inspiring book on Pastor Robert Maxwell’s transformation from living for himself to living for God. This revealing life story is showing God’s guidance as he deals with the return of an old love, challenges in the Christian walk, and other problems in the household and church.

This new book depicts people who lead and serve in the church as human beings who also get tempted and challenged by the devil during difficult circumstances, just like everyone else.

Sample Chapter

Introduction

Pastor Robert Maxwell always perceived the Bible a little different than everyone he knew. Although he spent much of his life around the church, the day God intervened in his life and let him know that God is real, everything changed for him. The way he looked at the world around him began to transform. Soon after, at the age of twenty-four, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior, and his life was never the same. He no longer looked at church as a place to go, but the church was who he wanted to become. His new intimate relationship with Jesus allowed him to see how God’s Word was designed to help him to understand who he had become. He realized that because of the sins of Adam and Eve, mankind is born into a life of sin, but at some point in life, God makes Himself known to every individual and gives them the opportunity to come back into fellowship with Him; saying no to that initial invitation has its consequences. Through his many struggles as he grew in Christ, he asked many times why he had to continue suppressing a perturbed feeling for Emma Crane that made him, in the back of his mind, wonder if he was worthy of the amazing calling God had placed on his life. At the age of fifty-five, he still wondered why, after so much fasting and prayer, God would not take those thoughts away. The feeling really manifested itself when she moved back into town after being away for most of her adult life. His story and experiences are an inspiration to all believers struggling through situations not pleasing to themselves and they presume are not pleasing to God.

What’s Wrong with Me?

This was just another Sunday morning at Believer’s Community Fellowship Church, but for Pastor Robert Maxwell, the message seemed to be hitting home a little more than normal. He had preached a message on Samson several times over the years, but for some reason this morning, he wanted to focus more on Samson’s choice to go after women despite his parent’s warnings. As he preached the sermon and pointed out Samson’s weakness for women, he couldn’t help but notice Emma Crane sitting on the left third row aisle seat. She has sat there, in the same seat, every Sunday morning, since she moved back to Graceville, Alabama, two years ago. This morning, she wore her hair down, and the long wavy blondish-brunette hair seemed to sway as she nodded in agreement to the message. “Samson,” the pastor continued, “was raised by his parents, knowing he had a special work to do for God. Even though his parents knew that God was against the Israelites intermarrying with outside nations, they gave in to his request to have a wife of the Philistines.” Pastor Maxwell paused a minute before he continued. “Samson had a weakness for the wrong women, but God used this weakness to deliver His people from captivity of the Philistines.” Pastor Maxwell closed the message, encouraging the congregation to be obedient to God even through their weak times.

“We all have weaknesses,” he said, “and God, through these weaknesses, wants to use each of us to further His kingdom.” He also reminded them of his engagement to preach at Graceful Freedom Ministries on the upcoming Friday night, then dismissed them to have a blessed week. “Anyone wanting to go, the address is posted in the lobby or you can meet me in the church parking lot at 5:00 p.m., Friday evening and follow me. God blesses you and loves you,” he said. He always walked to the entrance to greet the members as they exited the church with a handshake or hug, whispering “Have a blessed day” or “God bless you.” The small congregation of around 140 members filed down the middle aisle to be greeted by the pastor. He noticed his wife, Amelia, sneak out the side door as soon as he gave the benediction. No doubt she was in a rush to get home and change. She and the pastor were going to meet their eldest daughter, Isabella, and her husband, Ethan, for lunch today after church. But what she was most excited about was seeing their first grandson, Little Jacob. Isabella moved to Texas when she married Ethan Riggins, and she had only seen Jacob four times since he was born. He is now three years old, and Amelia has not seen him in eight months. He is all she has been able to talk about for the last week. About half the members were out of the sanctuary when Pastor Maxwell looked up and saw Emma behind the next three people in line. His breathing paused for a second. Immediately, he begins to argue with himself in his mind. “What is wrong with you? You have the most amazing wife on the planet, and you love her with all your heart, so why does this continue to happen to you?” He quickly whispered a small prayer to himself, “Lord I need You,” and continued his greetings without anyone noticing his agony. As the next two people passed by, Emma stepped up and extended her hand to the pastor. He smiled as always in his humble, friendly way and whispered, “God bless you.”

Emma paused for a few seconds as she took his hand to squeeze it lightly. She looked deep into his eyes and said, “thank you, Pastor.” As she walked away, Pastor Maxwell felt himself uncontrollably let out a sigh of relief. “That was weird,” he said to himself, and he thanked God for—again—covering him when he was unable to help himself. The last member walked out of the door, and Pastor Maxwell leaned back on the door frame and closed his eyes to have another one of his many conversations with God. He began by again thanking God for being so good to him and then asked the question he has asked God many times over the last couple of years. “Why won’t this feeling go away? It’s not even like I want to sleep with her. There is just something about her that I can’t get out of my head, heart, or wherever it is.” Robert and Emma had been middle school sweethearts about forty years ago, but that was then. He thought she was the most beautiful girl in school, but he was only fifteen when she moved away. So how could he know what he was feeling at that young age. He was snapped out of his thoughts, hearing his name called, “Pastor Maxwell, oh, Pastor Maxwell.” It was Mrs. Addison. She is the oldest member of his church. She was here when his grandfather, Pastor Robert Maxwell Sr., started the church. She was in the restroom after the benediction, and there was no way she was letting the pastor get away without getting her hug and kiss. Mattie Addison was eighty-three years old and moved around like she was still in her early sixties. She was the sweetest lady and loved her pastor more than anyone in the church, or at least this was what she told everyone. Everyone loved her. She was well respected even though she was very straight forward with her opinion. She was not shy about showing her love for others, but if she disapproved of someone, she was not timid about letting them know. She walked up to Pastor Maxwell with her arms outstretched and a big smile on her face. Pastor smiled and stepped forward to meet her. He leaned down and turned his head to the side. She always gave him a big wet kiss on the jaw that took all his God-given love to not turn away from. He loved Mrs. Addison like she was his own grandmother, but that big wet spot she left on his face every Sunday took everything he had not to wipe off (not until after she walked away anyway). The glow in her eyes and smile on her face after she got her hug and kiss made that couple of minutes of discomfort well worth it. “Pastor,” she said, after she had released him from her hug, “you know my granddaughter is going to spend the rest of the day with me. I think, they think, I get lonely since my husband died, but that was a year ago. And thanks to all the prayers from you and the church, God has made me stronger than I thought I could ever be. They just don’t know; as soon as I feel any kind of sadness coming on, I call my “road partner” Hattie Mae, and we get in the wind. It will be nice to spend the afternoon with her though, she spoils me. She acts like I can’t do anything for myself, so I just kick up my heels and let her go at. She wants to move in with me, scared I will hurt myself, but I like to walk around in my underwear too much to have that.” Pastor Maxwell couldn’t help but smile at the animated way Mrs. Addison expressed herself. She was such a joy and inspiration to be around. “Robert, Robert, I mean Pastor Maxwell, come on,” he heard yelling when it occurred to him that Amelia, his wife, was in the car waiting on him. He motioned Deacon Morris, letting him know he had to leave, and he was on his way. Deacon Morris was priceless at the church. He could do all kinds of handy work. He lost his wife about a year ago, and he just buried his sorrows into helping out at the church. After several attempts of the pastor trying to get him to take it easy, he finally realized the busier he was, the better he felt. With no kids and his wife now gone, the church was his family, so when he wasn’t on his job or fixing something at home, he wanted to work on some thing at the church. Pastor Maxwell did all he could to show him how much he was appreciated. He and Amelia often invited him over for dinner or took him home cooked meals. He was no Bible scholar, but he has a heart of pure gold.

His Baby Girl

Pastor Maxwell had to admit he was very eager to see his firstborn, Isabella. About a year after their marriage, he and Amelia had tried for two years to get pregnant. When she finally conceived, he was more excited than his wife. He secretly asked God for a boy, but he prayed for Him to just deliver a healthy baby. From the moment he first held Isabella in his arms, all he wanted to do was cherish and protect her and never let her go. She instantly touched a place in his heart that he thought no other human being could open up and his love for her only grew as she got older. Six years later came her sister Amanda, and a year and a half after that, his son Benjamin was born. Although Pastor Maxwell loved all his children and worked hard to make sure he showed them they were equally loved, he and Isabella have a special father-daughter bond that made them seem inseparable even though they now lived a thousand miles apart. Amanda, his second born, married Jake Hamilton about a year ago, against her father’s advice. “You are just too young to be married” he told her, “You are only twenty-three.” And there was something about this Jake guy that just did not sit well with the pastor.

“Well Isabella was only twenty-five when she married, and you gave her your blessings,” she pleaded, and Pastor Maxwell was caught trying to explain the reasoning behind his decisions. Yes, he had reluctantly given Isabella his blessings. He did think she was too young to be married, but Ethan Riggins was more mature and settled. He had known the Riggins family all his life. His mother had taken him to Riggins’ Groceries all the time when he was a boy, and he still shops there regularly. Before college, Ethan served four years in the military and came home to finish his business management degree and learn the management side of his father’s business. He proposed to Isabella when he learned his father was sending him to Texas, where his mother’s side of the family lived, to manage the store he had built there five years ago. The family businesses have been doing so well that they were considering a location to open another store. Even though his family went to another church across town, he was in church every Sunday, and Isabella promised they would find a new church as soon as they were settled in, which they did. Around Pastor Maxwell and his wife, Ethan was always courteous and respectful. Amelia thought he was the most handsome, admirable young man around and a perfect match for their daughter. Besides, Isabella was so happy when she was with him, and there was no way Pastor Maxwell could say no when she glowed the way she did just by talking about him. This Jake fellow was a different story. When he proposed to their second daughter Amanda, he was still living in his parent’s basement. He had been working at the automotive factory a few years and made pretty good money, but most of it was spent on cars and motorcycles. He was a pretty decent kid, and his parents had a good name in the neighborhood. But if he couldn’t get out and take care of himself, how could he possibly take care of his baby? Jake told Amada he loved God, but Pastor Maxwell thought that was more for her father’s sake. To him, he was doing good to go to church once a month, and he was very unreliable. There were several nights he left Amanda home crying because she had been stood up for a date. He always had some kind of excuse, and the next day, Amanda was all bouncy and happy in love again. How could he explain all this to a lovesick twenty-three-yearold? So he agreed to let them marry with his blessings. Although they had a rocky start after their marriage, with Amanda’s job as a LPN at Graceville Medical and Jake’s job at the factory, they have managed to buy a home and seem to be doing fine. They only live two counties away, so Pastor Maxwell felt better knowing he was only an hour away if she needed him. He was hoping his daughter would go back to school and complete her RN degree as she originally intended. Benjamin, his third and last child, was a true blessing. The doctor had told Amelia after complications with Amanda that she would probably not be able to have any more kids. Pastor Maxwell had been so disappointed. He really wanted a son, but he was so glad God had blessed him with two beautiful daughters that he could not complain. He remembered when Amelia told him she thought she might be pregnant again. He was nervous, excited, and scared all at the same time. With the girls, he did not want the doctors to tell them the sex of the baby; he wanted it to be a surprise. But with the last pregnancy, with all the emotions both he and Amelia were experiencing, he didn’t think either of them could wait till the delivery. When they told him it was a boy, he started praising God right there in the doctor’s office. Benjamin was an energetic toddler so, of course, he grew up to love sports. Pastor Maxwell was so proud of his son. He participated in every sport the school would allow. He was not very good at any of the sports, but to look in the audience and see his parents cheering for him made him give his all. His favorite was baseball. He and his father would throw, catch, and hit for hours some days and have the most fun. Pastor Maxwell was not very good at sports either, but that never stopped him from supporting his son the best he could. “As long as you do your best,” he would always tell him, “you will always be a winner to me.” When Benjamin graduated high school, he chose to attend Divinity Theological Seminary in Wyoming. He knew Benjamin chose this school to get away from home, but this still made Pastor Maxwell prouder than any sport ever could. He just prayed Benjamin was making his choice to please himself instead of his father.

Mrs. Tee’s Home Cooking

When Pastor Maxwell pulled up to the restaurant, Isabella and Ethan were standing outside, waiting on them. They were in town this weekend for some business Ethan had with his father. Isabella had informed him they had to leave for Texas as soon as they left the restaurant. Isabella picked the restaurant. She chose her favorite restaurant, Mrs. Tee’s Home Cooking. Her father used to take her there on their father-daughter dates. She felt so grown up when she was there with him. “Order whatever you want,” he would always tell her. And she would smile and say, “You know what I like.” Yes he did, and he knew she enjoyed seeing him frown as he placed her order. When the waitress came over, he always made sure she knew which order was for him. “Steak (medium rare) and baked potato for me with a small garden salad please,” he would say, “and for her, macaroni and cheese, fried oysters, a hamburger patty with no bun, and a side order of fried pickles.” The waitress would just smile at him and walk away. He could not believe, of all the great food served at Mrs. Tee’s, this was what his daughter chose as her favorite. As long as she was happy, he was.

She would talk and talk as they ate and he just smiled and nodded. He listened to every word. He knew who in school had a crush on who, which teachers were her favorites, which boys she liked, that he didn’t want to know, which friends she really liked, and the ones she just pretended to like because he taught her to be nice to everyone. He loved his baby girl so much. Even though she was not the youngest, she would always be his baby girl. When they pulled into the parking lot of Mrs. Tee’s, Amelia jumped out of the car. She went straight for her grandson. She had him a small Superman figurine in her hand. He loved super heroes. “Look what Grandma has,” Isabella said as Jacob hugged her around to leg and hid his face. He did not initially recognize his grandparents, but when Amelia leaned over and held out the Superman doll, he looked up and ran to her. “Hello, Isabel,” her mother said as she walked to her, holding Jacob. “It is so good to see you, sweetheart,” she said and got on her tip toes to give her a hug and kiss. Isabel was 5'11"; she took heights from her father. “How have you been?” “I have been fine, mom,” Isabella said. Amelia was only half paying her daughter any attention as she walked over to greet Ethan. All her attention was still on Jacob. She never put Jacob down as he played with his new Superman doll. Pastor Maxwell noticed his daughter looked sadder than he remembered her. She looked at him and smiled, but it was not the same glowing smile he remembered. Maybe she is just tired, he thought. When she first moved away five years ago, she called her father several times a week. In the last few years, he was lucky to get a call from her every few months. And when she did call, she sounded tired and wouldn’t stay on the phone long. He understood married life could be very stressful at times, and with Jacob coming along, he figured Isabel just had her hands full. He was hoping that with a little time to adjust, she would resume her connection to him. Isabella tried to look up and hold her smile as she walked over to her father, but Pastor Maxwell couldn’t help but notice the sadness in her eyes. “Hello, Daddy,” she said as she hugged him. “I miss you so much,” she whispered. “Isabel, is everything all right?” he asked. She only held him tighter. “Well I miss you too. Isabel, sweetheart, are you OK?” “Yes, Daddy, I just really miss you.” He returned her hug and said, “I know, me too.” “Hello, Mr. Maxwell,” Ethan said as he walked up, extending his hand to Pastor Maxwell. “Hello, Ethan, how has things been with you?” “Very well, very well,” said Ethan. “Another grocery store opened across town last year, which made things a little more challenging. But I’m confident we will keep most of our customers. My father came to visit a few months ago to give me pointers, so I’m sure things will be running smooth again soon.” “Well,” said Pastor Maxwell, “your father has been in the grocery business a long time, so I’m sure everything will work out fine. Besides, a little competition is always good for everyone.” Ethan frowned a little and turned away. Isabella was still holding on to her father. “Well,” Ethan said, “maybe we should go inside and eat. We have to get back on the road soon. Texas is a long drive away.” Pastor Maxwell nodded and escorted his daughter into the restaurant. Inside the restaurant looked the same as it did when Isabella and her father used to come fifteen years ago. She would always get that homey feeling when they came in. It was like going to her grandmother’s for Sunday dinner. In her favorite seat, she always admired the scenery and pictures on the wall. To her left, she saw a painted portrait of birds. It looked as if they swayed on the canvas. The longer she looked at the picture, the more the birds appeared to be flying. She caught herself a couple of times staring so hard she actually thought the birds were going to fly off the canvas. To her right was a metal artwork hanging of dolphins made to look like they were diving in the ocean. The background of the sea with the sun almost setting above it was beautiful to her. That scene would give her that calming feeling she used to get when her father took her fishing. On their fishing trips, she spent more time staring at the calmness of the water than trying to catch fish, but she loved being alone with her father. Her favorite image was on the wall when she looked straight in front of her. There was a beautiful picture of an angel with wings and it had a large glowing halo over her head. Isabella loved angels. Her father would always tell her God had her own personal angel watching over her. When she sat across from her father and looked with her head tilted to the right a little, her father’s head replaced the head of the angel. Sometimes when she was talking to him, she imagined her own personal angel with wings and halo watching over her. She never told him why she always chose that seat. Once they entered, they walked around to Mrs. Tee’s waiting area. Isabella’s eyes immediately went toward her favorite table. It still had all her favorite images on the wall. Even the angel was still in place. She smiled to herself. Emily, the waitress, recognized Isabella and Pastor Maxwell and walked toward them with a big smile. “Welcome back, you two, long time no see.” The pastor was surprised she remembered them. He had only been back to Mrs. Tee’s once with Amelia since he and Isabella stopped going. It was just not the same without her. “Would you like your old table?” said the waitress as she pointed toward Isabella’s favorite seat. “Yes,” squealed Isabella, with more excitement than she wanted to show. She gave her father’s arm a little squeeze as she looked up at him.

“No, that is too secluded for me. I like to be in the center,” Ethan said as he looked to where the waitress was pointing. As Emily, the waitress, turned to look for another area, Pastor Maxwell stopped her. “If my daughter wants her favorite table, then we’ll sit at her favorite table.” His tone surprised everyone, but no one objected. He could feel his old temper rising back up. He had spent so many years praying to keep it under control, but he knew his family was one of his greatest weaknesses. He had only gotten in one fight in his life, and that was in high school, which got him suspended. He had been able to keep from punching anyone else, but the rage that followed him over the years didn’t stop him from wanting to. The last decade or so, he thought he had it under control, until he saw the look in his baby girl’s eyes. He silently prayed. They all followed Emily as she led them to the table. Isabella really wanted to sit across from her father, but she slid in as Ethan stepped aside and pointed for her to go to the inside seat beside him. Her mother was already on the inside of the opposite booth, and Ethan had led her to the opposite side of the view of her angel. She sat down without complaining. As Emily got their drinks and a high chair for Jacob, Pastor Maxwell couldn’t help but smile to himself, as he read the fried oysters and pickles on the menu. “Are we ready to order?” Emily said as she stood over them with pencil and pad in her hand. Ethan spoke first. “I’ll have the 12 oz. New York Strip, medium rare, and make sure they don’t overcook it, and sprinkle a little extra butter on it when it’s done. I’ll also have a fully loaded baked potato with extra sour cream and go ahead and have them to prepare me a piece of that chocolate lava cake for dessert. I work out so much that I will burn this off in no time,” he said as he winked at the waitress.

Emily smiled and looked at Isabella for her order. She couldn’t remember all her favorites, but she knew fried pickles were involved. “Oh, she’ll have grilled salmon and veggie salad,” Ethan said. “She has put on a few pounds since she had Jacob, so we have her on a little diet.” Pastor Maxwell and Emily paused and looked at Isabella. She only dropped her head to look at the table. Amelia was so caught up with Jacob she didn’t even notice. Emily took the rest of their orders and walked away. Pastor Maxwell could feel himself getting angry, so he began to silently pray. He wanted to interfere again, but he thought it best to stay out of their marriage until she asked for help. He did make a mental note to talk to his baby girl soon though. The remainder of the lunch went much the same. Ethan spent most of the time talking about himself and his accomplishments. Amelia fed Jacob, and the both of them just talked. Pastor Maxwell couldn’t tell which one of them talked the most, Amelia or Jacob. He couldn’t even tell what Jacob was saying most of the time, but Amelia didn’t mind; she was having the time of her life. He would occasionally ask Isabella a question to get her involved in the conversation, but as soon as she became excited to be talking to her father, Ethan would somehow turn the conversation back to him. They finally met in the parking lot to say goodbye. Pastor Maxwell was hoping to get a moment alone with Isabella, but Ethan was in such a rush to get on the road he never got the opportunity. This was not the Ethan he remember when he was dating his daughter. This Ethan had him on the verge of showing a side of himself that he thought he had under control a long time ago. He had only got to play with Jacob a little during lunch, so he picked him up and gave him a big hug. “Next time, Grandma Amelia and I will be fighting over you,” he said as he blew kisses into his neck. Jacob just giggled as he threw his head back, screaming, “Paw Paw.”

Continues...

Excerpted from "When God Makes Himself Known" by Shearon Epps. Copyright © 2017 by Shearon Epps. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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