One day when we returned home and were listening to our phone messages, there was one where the caller didn’t identify himself, but from the voice and context, we determined was from the Waddington family in North Dakota, asking whether we would like them to stop in at our church on a Wednesday night for a presentation. The Waddingtons had lived here previously and then moved to North Dakota. They are family of excellent musicians and they had given concerts at our church several times. It happened to be that time of year when their business in North Dakota allowed them to travel, so we were excited to have them come again. We had an AWANA program on Wednesday evenings but decided to just do our handbook time for the first half hour and then have the Waddingtons for the next hour, and invite the parents to come as well as to notify the community since many were familiar with the Waddingtons.
I went on their website to get their email address and emailed them to let them know that the date would work and that they would have lots of kids in the audience but that we would invite parents and the church and community to come as well. I also asked if they could send us some flyers so we could advertise for them. I didn’t hear back so tried emailing again. Still no response. It was getting close to time for them to come so I finally called back on the number left with the phone message. I asked if they were still heading our way, and the “man” (who sounded like Mr. Waddington, or one of his boys), said, “Yes, we are still plan to be there on Wednesday.” I reminded him of the format of the evening and asked if they would need to get in early to set up and he replied, “No, we only need a few minutes to do that.” (which I thought strange.) I added that we would release the AWANA kids at the normal time but if they wanted to continue we could invite folks to stay longer.
Well, we invited the AWANA parents and our church congregation and told others we thought would be interested. We didn’t put anything in the paper since we hadn’t received any flyers. The Wednesday night of their “concert” arrived and when it was time for AWANA to begin (6 p.m.) the Waddingtons had still not arrived. I thought that was pretty odd and started to get a bit nervous. I went ahead and started working with my Truth and Training group of 3rd-6th graders and Kathy was helping out at the registration desk. Still no Waddingtons! Then, a missionary couple from Latvia, the Petersons, whom our church had been supporting, but from whom we had not heard in some time, showed up in the church entry. They were planning on giving a missions report and to tell us that they were resigning from their mission and returning to the United States where Dusty would pastor a church in Oregon!
It was Dusty (whose voice sounds much like one of Mr. Waddington’s sons) who had called, but because he is a bit hard of hearing, he had started talking before the beep and his identifying who he was had not recorded. When we had talked again later, he still did not identify himself. As we visited and laughed over the “miscommunication” and how it had happened, folks started coming for the Waddington concert! Well, I waited until everyone was seated and announced that though they had come to hear the Waddington family they had the “privilege” of hearing from our missionaries to Latvia, the Petersons!
To add to the “misadventure,” we discovered our adapter was missing for sound on the video that the Petersons showed, so Dusty just had to narrate. Then afterwards, I had planned to invite folks to stay for refreshments and discovered that not enough goodies had been brought to provide for everyone so had to cancel that as well. It was a whole “comedy of errors,” but I had to remember that all things happen for a reason in God’s plan and even our blunders and miscommunications He uses for His purpose. And as far as the Petersons coming rather than the Waddingtons, God has no substitutes! I’m sure that those who came that evening were there by “divine appointment” and undoubtedly God spoke to hearts through the presentation. I also couldn’t help but wonder if we had advertised an evening with missionaries from Latvia how many people would have attended? We definitely had a better turn out than we would have expected!
A couple days later, I got a call from North Dakota from Mr. Waddington! He said he’d received a strange call from a family in Libby asking where in the world they had been. “We drove over to Three Lakes to hear you sing and you weren’t there! I explained to him what had happened. He said that their email hadn’t been working so he never received my messages so knew nothing of what had transpired. I said, “You’d best schedule a trip out our way soon!”
As I rehearsed that crazy event in my mind I couldn’t help but think of how people sometimes think they have “heard from God,” but never bother to check out the message with his written revelation to make sure it is biblical (i.e., from Him), and they proceed on a false assumption, often “paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (I Tim. 4:1). Their are lots of voices in the world today, many claiming they have the truth, but there is only one source of Truth and that is God and His Word. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6), and “His Word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Everything else, every voice, every teaching, every religious group must be checked out against the absolute standard of God’s Word. Miscommunication such as caused our interesting adventure on a Wednesday night is embarrassing, but miscommunication and misunderstanding about who Jesus Christ is and how we can have eternal life is a matter of eternal consequence. Be sure the voice you are hearing is God’s. Get in His Word and check it out! God cannot contradict Himself, will never go against his Word, and cannot lie or deceive you. It is Satan who is the great deceiver, He is “the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44) and can even “disguise himself as an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14), so “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4:1 cf II Jn. 1:7). We need to heed the Apostle Paul’s advice to the Galatians: “Even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
And, if someone leaves you a phone message, make sure you know who it was before acting on it!