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  • Debra McInvale

Is God's Hand at Your Back?

[This is the final post in the Heritage series. During the month of June, I am celebrating godly fathers. I recognize, however, that all people do not have this blessing. For those who have been injured by a father, know that it is not your fault and that it breaks God’s heart as it has broken yours.]

God knows the potential of His children. He guides them through each experience necessary to reach their God-chosen destiny.
"Drunkards Path" quilt pattern. Hand-sewn by Essie O'Neal Pope, Debra's great aunt.

Toward the end of his life, Daddy (Walter Hibble) decided he wanted to record his memories. So, he purchased a small recorder and, faithfully, at 5:30 every evening, sat down at the kitchen table, peanut butter and crackers in hand, and talked. I love still hearing his voice on those recordings.

The true value in them, however, is the overarching highlight of his memories: evidence of God working in his life.

His premise was that God is at work in our lives for our benefit. The good that happens in life is never coincidence. It is God. Daddy called these happenings “God winks”. I like to call them Holy Hugs. (Check out Post #3, “God Winks and Holy Hugs”, for another of his God wink stories.)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs16:9 NIV

Daddy called the story that follows one of his biggest “where God had His finger straight on my back.” Here is how it all played out and influenced the remainder of his life.

Never underestimate the small steps.

In the 1940s, Walter was deeply immersed in his youth group at Sylvan Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta. He was involved with the youth Bible study, prepared quizzes for them on Sunday nights, and studied his Bible every day. One week the church held a youth revival and Walter was elected to be the youth preacher. Evidently that went well because shortly after he was pushed into taking part in a citywide better speakers’ contest.

His speech for the contest was maybe four or five minutes long. He gave it at his own church and won. Then, as contests go, he gave it at two additional churches and won. The last leg of the contest was held on a Sunday afternoon at First Baptist in downtown Atlanta. This time he was competing with five girls and he was nervous. He lost.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3 NIV

Walter worked odd jobs, including in grocery stores, after school in an effort to help his single mom with expenses. But he never knew where he might end up in a career. Who did know? God knew!

When he was in junior high school and at Tech High School, he took mechanical drawing classes and enjoyed them. So, when one of his teachers, Dr. Shaw, called him in after school and asked him about a job, Walter was ready. Dr. Shaw informed him that Westinghouse was looking for draftsmen; most of their employees in that department had gone to war and the company needed somebody to “push a pencil.”

Photograph by Debra McInvale.

Dr. Shaw recommended Walter. Walter made the hour’s ride on bus and trackless trolley to the company in downtown Atlanta. He met Mr. Whitlow in the front office and filled out the appropriate job application forms. For a few minutes, it seemed that the trip was a waste. Mr. Whitlow didn’t seem to think that Walter was right for the job. However, at the last minute, he decided to take Walter back to the engineering office – just in case – rather than ushering him straight out the door.

There, Walter was introduced to a Mr. Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs stood up, motioned for Walter to sit down and promptly said, “You couldn’t have done it. You didn’t have a chance.” Huh? Walter had no clue what he was talking about. Then Mr. Jacobs explained: He had been a judge at the speaking contest.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:20b NIV

This time Walter won. He got that job. It was an amazing God wink, a situation only God Himself could have orchestrated. So what began as an elective class in school moved him into training at Westinghouse and slowly but surely, God wink by God wink, grew into Walter owing his own electrical consulting firm that remains in business today. And it was a career in which Walter himself was able to touch the lives of young people, to place his hand on their backs for the Lord.

Expect God to move in your life, even in the smallest of steps.



Dear Lord, I am amazed that You are at work in my life right this minute, even when I am not aware of Your hand on my back. Help me to trust you every step of the way. Remind me to watch for Your loving winks and holy hugs. Amen.



What have you inherited that is most valuable to you?

What legacy are you building now by the way you are living your days?

Who are you mentoring by default?

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1 Comment

Jun 29, 2021

Amazing that Mr. Jacobs would remember a youth from a speaking contest. It does seem that God's hand was on your father, directing his steps. Great story, Debra.

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