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A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Parents'
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The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
The Joy of Family
The Rhythm of Life
We Are the Church


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Itís Four Oíclock in the Morning
By Diane Exner

"Itís time to get up, Diane"

Rolling over I see the digital red numbers of my clock. "Itís four oíclock in the morning."

"You asked Me a lot of questions lately; would you like the answers?"

"Yes, Lord, but itís so early."

"In Australia itís eight oíclock at night."

"You sound like that country song by Alan Jackson, ĎItís Five oíclock somewhere.í"

"I like all kinds of music Diane."

"Even rap?"

"Itís time to get up."

I grunt. My head feels too heavy to get off the pillow.

"I have an article for you for your FaithWritersí column this month."

"OK, OK. Canít this wait just a couple of hours? After all, I am human you know."

Silence.

"OK, Lord. You win. This is all too familiar."

"I like this time of the morning with you. I love watching you wake up."

"Why?"

"You donít wake up grumpy Ö"

"No, I let him sleepy, ha, ha."

Now itís the Lordís turn to groan.

"I remember another time that you woke me up at 4:00 am."

"Me too. Do you remember how that one turned out Diane?"

I smile. "I bet that would make a great story."

"Sounds good to me."

"You have the strangest ways of answering my prayers Lord."

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9 NIV)

"I like it better when you talk in plain English to me Lord."

"You think creatively, so to you I respond creatively. Letís writeÖ"

* * *

"Itís time to wake up."

"Are you kidding? Itís four oíclock in the morning."

"Yes it is."

"Canít this wait?"

"Sure."

Silence.

"OK, what is it?"

"You asked me to help you quit smoking."

Groan.

"Today is the day."

I hear a song in my head, "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." I try to roll over. The music continues.

"OK. Just give me five more minutes."

Deafening silence fills the room.

"OK." I put my feet on the floor, pull my butt out of bed, put on my sweats and moccasins and head to the living room.

"Here I am Lord."

"Good job. Now letís listen to some music."

I put in my favorite worship CD and close my eyes. Before long I am humming, then singing (quietly), then kneeling. I lose myself in the music and before long I feel a cool sensation in my lungs. It surrounds my heart and spreads out all over my chest. Itís cool, yet warm.

The next time I remember looking at the clock itís 6:30am. Time for a shower.

I felt so refreshed. I wasnít tired at all. I didnít even want to go out on the balcony for my morning cigarette. I giggled to myself. Isnít the Lord wonderful?

After my shower I went straight to the office and wrote down everything that had just happened. I no sooner finished and it was time to go to the monthly Saturday Ladiesí Breakfast. This month it was at Kellyís house. She was the pastorís wife and lived only five minutes away. I was feeling on top of the world.

I donít remember much of what Kelly spoke on that day, but I remember the closing time. Kelly asked anyone if they had any prayer requests or praise reports.

"Tell them about this morning."

"Are you kidding Lord? Theyíll judge me. These are church ladies."

"Yes, I know. They want to be your friends."

"No."

"OK. Itís up to you"

Silence.

"But Lord, theyíll think Iím a loser, because I smoke. They wonít understand."

"They wonít judge. Besides you donít smoke anymore."

"So then why do I need to tell them what happened and ask for prayer? Why?"

"I want you to be set totally free; not only from smoking, but from fear of what people think about you, especially women."

"Isnít there another way?"

"This is the best way. Go on, tell them."

"Umm, Kelly..." I paused. All eyes were on me. My lips started to quiver. "I have something to share."

They waited. I looked into their faces, and then I slightly bowed my head in shame.

"Itís okay Diane. Go ahead." Kellyís loving voice lifted my head.

"Well, this morning at 4:00 am Ö" I told the story just as it happened. "Now the Lord has invited me to ask you to pray for me so I can be set totally free."

I watched the eyes in that room. They didnít judge. They didnít condemn. They loved. They accepted. They prayed and came into agreement with what the Lord was doing in my life.

That day I was set free from two bondages in my life. Smoking and fear of what people thought of me.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6 NIV) Praise God, He is still working in other areas of my life too Ö

* * *

"Thank you Lord."

"Youíre most welcome my dear." "Thank you for helping me back then, today and every day."

"I am the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8 Ė NIV)

"This is the day that the Lord has made, I will be rejoice and be glad in it." My spirit sings.

"I love to hear you sing."

"Thatís just between you and me Lord Ö right?"

"For now."

* * *

The above is a true story. I was delivered from smoking Saturday, September 25, 1999. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I had prayed for weeks, maybe months, to quit smoking because I just couldnít do it on my own. The Lord not only wanted me free from that bondage, but also of fearing what people thought of me.

Isnít He good to kill two fears in one prayer session? One of the ladies even prayed, "Even if Diane stumbles and has another cigarette, it isnít over. That didnít make her a failure. Give her the grace to continue Lord."

I did stumble, I did have another smoke or two later on, but the Lord put that prayer in that ladyís mouth as an encouragement for me to remember at the needed time. I am smoke-free to this day and the glory is all Godís.

PS. I may not hear Godís voice audibly, but I do have conversations with Him in my spirit just like you have read above. Heís personal that way and wants to have those some conversations with you. Can you hear him? What does He want to set you free from today?
Diane Exner is a published freelance Canadian writer, who takes every opportunity to use her talents to glorify God and to encourage others. You can contact Diane through her website at http://www.exner-express.com. Come climb aboard the ĎExner Expressí!

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
Through 2004 I have been reminded time and time again how important it is to have a firm foundation of faith in God so that when the rough times hit, my life still can go on with a peace that was not there when I worried about everything. (Jan Warrick)

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