This coming week we will celebrate the life of Flora E. Armstrong, my husband’s grandmother, who passed from this earth this past Thursday. She was a woman from an ordinary, humble beginning. Growing up on a small dairy farm in Colfax Illinois, she learned the value of hard work when her mother became disabled. At around 13 years old, Flo stepped in and took over the things her mother could no longer do – household chores, milking cows, delivering milk to customers and more. With two younger siblings to watch, and no indoor plumbing, this was a pretty tough life for a 13 year old.
Perhaps it was this ordinary, humble beginning that propelled Flo Armstrong to become a courageous leader. She was a tireless volunteer for MANY organizations. From serving as the President of the Fairbury Hospital Auxiliary, to a State of Illinois’ delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention, to stepping out as the inaugural President of the very first chapter of the American Business Women’s Club, and serving as an Illinois Wesleyan University trustee, just to name a few, countless organizations are better because of Flo Armstrong’s leadership.
Flo Armstrong also had a distinct impact on people. It has been fun over the last couple of days to hear the stories from people whose lives she touched. From inspiring an up and coming civic leader to reach her potential to reaching out and caring for a fellow IWU ambassador’s children in a time of vulnerability, Flo Armstrong cared for others. She will be missed by many.
In Judges 6 we find the account of Gideon, an ordinary person doing something extraordinary. The backdrop of the story is God’s people living under the oppressive rule of the Midianites. For seven years, God had been permitting the oppression because of his people’s disobedience. As expected, God’s people were wasting away to nothing and begging for deliverance. In verse 11 we pick up the story of God calling Gideon to deliver his people. Although an angel of the Lord appeared directly to him, Gideon was still convinced he wasn’t qualified to save the Israelites from their oppression – his clan, Manasseh, was the weakest clan and he was the least capable person in his family. God proved himself to Gideon through 3 tests / miracles and Gideon, with God’s supernatural oversight, went on to be a courageous leader.
Does this story sound familiar? Do you remember when God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage in Exodus 3 and 4? Moses was a shepherd, he wasn’t well spoken, nor did he have any credibility with his potential followers. Despite God appearing to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was still convinced he wasn’t qualified to save the Israelites from their oppression. God pressed on, he proved himself to Moses through 3 tests / miracles and Moses, with God’s supernatural oversight, went on to be a courageous leader.
I could go on and on with examples of ordinary people God used to do extraordinary things for the Kingdom of God. What qualified Old Testament figures like Abraham, Moses and Gideon, and New Testament figures like Mary and Jesus’ disciples to be God’s courageous leaders was the condition of their hearts. Willingness to submit their own will and earthly desires to God’s divine purpose allowed God to use each one of them in extraordinary ways.
I believe God has placed in each of us a desire for significance, a desire to do something extraordinary and leave a lasting legacy. Unfortunately if you’re like me, I don’t have exceptional talents that are ever going to lead me to something extraordinary on my own. Fortunately, God has a plan for every one of us. Will you put your trust in him? Will you yield to his divine purpose for your life?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).