The Joy of Feasting with God at His Table

Editor’s Note: We are excited to share a post from guest blogger, Jim Phalen, today! Not only have Jim and his wife, Debbie, served as missionaries in China and other parts of the world, but Jim also is Sue’s dad! His wisdom and zeal for Jesus inspire us. We trust his message will do the same for you.

I was born way back in 1934 on a ranch in a very remote area near Ekalaka, Montana.

Sue Lindsey and her dad, Jim Phalen

My first Sublime Soiree was a little milk from a little cow.  It was during the depression and great drought.  We were a poor family made even poorer by a lot of drinking to drown our sorrows.  Worst of all we had no hope and no religion!  Only two men ever came to visit us who used God’s name without swearing.

My sister and I went to a country school, but there were so few students that we couldn’t keep a teacher.  So, we had to leave our ranch and go to a town big enough to have work and a school. We didn’t like it, but we were amazed by how different it was!  They not only had schools, they had churches! We had never been to church in our life, and another ranch family invited us to church.  My father said we couldn’t go because we were Catholic, and that’s because we were Irish.  But my mother said we didn’t believe anything so we should be able to decide for ourselves. So, they let us go.  We were amazed at church and soon my sister ran forward to the church altar and gave her life to the Lord!  I was afraid and confused, though; so, I went away.  My sister often invited me to go to church and said I should “get right with God!”  I knew she was right, but I was getting into sports and into trouble; so, I avoided her.

School was dramatically different then than it is today.  They had the Bible in public school and even had evangelist meetings and had some Christian teachers, or athletes, or musicians share at school.  At first, I refused invitations at the school; but then, I felt that I should get back on track.  Especially with my parents divorcing and me getting in more trouble. I didn’t know how to pray, but I had learned the Gospel at school. So, I decided to go to my room and try to pray. I just said, “God, if you are real and if you are as wonderful as my sister says you are, and if you can forgive me for all the bad things that I have thought, and said, and done, and take me, I will do anything you want.”  I thought He wouldn’t answer me because He was mad at me. I knew He could have lots of reason to be!  But amazingly, He not only heard me, but He also forgave me, and welcomed me into His family!  I was so happy that I ran to tell my parents.  That is normally a good thing to do, but that upset my parents.  I am sure it was hard for my parents to have both of their children giving their lives to the Lord.  My sister went away to nurse’s training and I soon had to leave to get away from my environment and prepare for my life’s work.

After years of preparation, my sister married a missionary and gave her life as a missionary nurse in Brazil. Then, after my own years of preparation, I gave my life as a missionary in Singapore and Malaysia and China. But what really led to that drastic and dramatic change in my life? First, I couldn’t help but see the serious ongoing problems in my life and in my family’s life.  Second, I went where there were many real Christians who shared the Lord with me by both their life and their lips.  I also learned that I could personally pray.  And vitally important, I began to learn the Bible. I am still learning and applying the Bible personally and professionally.  For over fifty years I have spent a few  minutes at the beginning of every day in prayer and almost an hour studying the Bible every day.

Photo by Worshae on Unsplash

I have found that a day started with the Bible and prayer has given me a precious, positive pattern for relating to people in all places and circumstances.  Whether my situations are thrilling or tragic, blessing or burdensome, perplexing or purposeful, delightful or dangerous, sorrowful or satisfying, overwhelming or overreaching, beginning my days in His Word and prayer has given me the strength that I never had before. And a time of apology and thankfulness at the close of each day also has, by His grace, enabled me to live “free above the fray,” as my daughter, Sue, and Linda would say. Have I sometimes failed Him?  Yes!  Has He still forgiven me?  Yes!  Have I sometimes failed others? Yes! Has He still forgiven me?  Yes!

But I continue to seek so that I may grow and glow and go!  I am heaven-bound, and I will have a “Sublime Soiree” awaiting me with Him in heaven, and even have a little foretaste of it here at special times!  May we all someday enjoy a spiritual Sublime Soiree together!

— Jim Phalen, © July 2023

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