“Meryl, when are you going to give your life to the Lord?”
That question was posed by a co-worker, but 18-year-old Meryl Bishop sensed it was being asked by Someone else.
And it was a little bit frightening.
She hesitated. It’s OK to know Jesus in a personal way, but to give Him control? I mean, He might send me somewhere I don’t want to go or ask me to do something I don’t want to do or feel I’m capable of doing.
“Meryl,” her co-worker said, “the Lord Jesus Christ has an exciting plan for you. Give Him the right to your life and He will handle everything else.”
Meryl remembers that conversation decades ago as one of the first times she encountered the Holy Spirit. She’s had lots of talks with Him since then, thousands during the 28 years she served as a Stonecroft National Representative and National Prayer Director. Thousands more since 2009, when she ditched retirement to travel as a Stonecroft volunteer, speaking at outreach groups and conducting Keeping Watch events.
Recognizing the Holy Spirit’s prompting becomes easier as you spend time with Him, Meryl says. “You get to know His voice. I ask each day that He will keep me in His will and use me. I just follow Him.”
The path isn’t without challenges, however. “I’ve learned when I’m faced with two possibilities, sometimes He simply wants me to take a step of faith. Then God will either close or open the door.” Meryl has also learned not to rush Him. “Sometimes He takes so long to answer. But He has a purpose in waiting.”
Galatians 5:22-23b (NASB) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Depending on the situation, the Holy Spirit will exhibit these characteristics in a believer’s life.
Four years ago, Meryl felt the Lord calling her to Maine, far from her longtime home in Kansas City. “It was such a major adjustment for me, moving away from where I was surrounded by Christians and all my friends.” But His directive was clear.
“The Lord has placed me in an apartment complex with people who are not interested in Him,” Meryl says. “They want to do their own thing and have some unusual beliefs.” She is not deterred, however. Daily, she asks the Holy Spirit to fill her with love and patience and prays, “OK, Lord. Who do you want me to connect with today?”
Maine is known for its blueberries, and one glorious summer day, Meryl decided to go pick some. “I was having so much fun, picking all these blueberries. I got this whole big box, filled with blueberries. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all these blueberries?’”
Immediately, the answer came. “Use them to get to know your neighbors.”
“It was so clear. I thought, ‘Wow! That’s a wonderful idea!’ – and I knew it wasn’t mine.”
She divided the bounty of blueberries into containers and began knocking on doors. “Introducing myself, I said, ‘I picked blueberries, and these are for you.’ That’s how I got to meet all my neighbors.”
As time passes, those neighbors are learning there’s something different about Meryl. One woman was especially insistent Meryl come visit her. “I want you to come, because you bring your peace with you,” she said.
“That floored me, because I didn’t feel at all peaceful!” But Meryl was radiating God’s peace anyway, and her neighbor could sense it.
“The Lord knows that, deep down inside, I want His will and nothing else,” Meryl says. “Father Tim of Jan Karon’s Mitford series says we always need to pray The Prayer That Never Fails: ‘Your will be done.’
“If you’re willing to do that, then God will lead you in the direction He wants you to go.”