My spouse left this week for a month to visit family and do ministry in the Middle East. I had planned to post the stories for you, but a funny thing happened along the way. I had an “accident”. Rear-ended! Icy, slick and snowy roads combined with novice snow drivers are not a great combination. Sore, agitated, and now a crunched bumper to deal with, this post is a bit delayed. However, even this, will not keep me from the task. Below will be the first post, gifted for you, as I count it all joy (James 1), still.
The next few posts will be completely different and something new for me… The posts will be a story of grace, joy, truth and peace. This story will be given by a God who is tenderhearted and lovely. He moves and hovers and sings over His children. He is the one who sings grace and mercy, joy and peace, comfort and healing. And, He sings to you.
God is desperate to draw our attention unto Himself. We are busy, so busy… too busy to notice what God is doing. We work, we travel, we eat, sleep, live and scurry about webs of our own making, oblivious of God and His song until, one day eyes open and we see truth, we see God in flesh, we see Jesus, Messiah.
Listen to the story with open ears and an empty heart. I do not know the ending or even the middle of this story… but I will write it down day by day as it occurs. I do know the master storyteller and He being God, will be the one creating this living breathing story in real time, live. Just as if the video camera was rolling and we were viewing it on a screen, God will show us a new thing, which is quite exciting, really. Very exciting indeed. I on my part, will faithfully write it down, despite accidents, crunched fenders and achy-neck joints.
A story from God…
It is frustrating having to leave your life partner, best friend, and be 8000 miles away. I know you feel the same but let me stop there and just give you a run down on the journey here…you were right, the plane had stars! It looked like millions of them. It’s so beautiful. I can’t believe that they set the lighting of the whole plane to cycle from daylight through dusk into full night. Wow, it’s just like the real thing.
I slept well in Dubai for my extended lay-over. I did venture out and took a taxi to the Burj Khalifa mall. It was mostly boring except for the architecture and the souk area (gold jewelry shops). I couldn’t go up in the tower without a reservation. Reservations were $110. So I went back to the hotel and slept, woke up and ate dinner and went back to sleep.
As you know, the problem with flying is usually centered on who you have to sit by. I had the sense while standing at the boarding gate that something was up…. And my angst was centered on the ‘whoever’. I was a little unsettled, but anticipatory as well, so I prayed a prayer requesting assistance from God. He always knows what to do. I checked in and was immediately instructed to board, so walking behind a guy in a blue north face windbreaker, wearing jeans and running shoes, and loaded down with carry-ons and bags of purchases, I got in the plane.
When I arrived at my seat, the windbreaker guy was filling up all the bins with his stuff. I put my bag in the next bin and he stepped into the seat…right next to me. He had 2 cell phones, an Iphone 5 and a Galaxy S3. I sat by the window so he politely allowed me in first. We hadn’t been sitting for more than a minute or two when he began to talk to me. He asked the typical questions, was this my first trip to the Middle East, and where was my home. He seemed impressed, that I an American would travel so far, to help relatives move into a new house. I explained that I believed it is important to help others and to place their needs above our desires. He was very interested in this. We had a pleasant conversation, then he excused to “read some things” on his phone.
I stared out the window for a while and then glanced at him, and noticed he was thumbing a virtual set of prayer beads spinning on his phone screen. I looked up at his face and saw that his eyes were closed as he mouthed words. I was scared. Had I said too much? Was he spying out westerners? What should I do, say… So I began to seek wisdom again. I asked that words would be provided and doors pushed open and that this guy would feel the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
He did not finish praying until we took off and were served breakfast. Then he turned to me and our conversation began. “Taste the strawberry jam and tell me if you like it. Really… I would like your opinion.” Jam… and bread… jam and bread jam and bread… I spoke, “It is very good! Just like the wonderful jams my wife makes!” “Really. You are playing?” No really they are yummy.” Good, I am glad you like it. I make them… well all of these,” he indicated all of the prepackaged cheeses, butter, jam etc. on our breakfast trays. He works for the company that supplies little spread-ables.
This is a long story, but let me try and sum up…. Basically, He is seeking God and open. We spoke of many things. He is from the X city, in X country. Born and raised there. He runs the business with his Father and brothers. He is flying to X city to see his wife and children for two weeks. He is drawn to people who are in need and is seeking to place his fairly large $$ as action toward that kind of help.
I had spoken of Hamoud and the school boys. God formed a link in the bridge, both to Himself and the school. I told a story of a younger brother who left home with a fortune, wasted it and came back… to be welcomed and forgiven by his father. “Ishmael” was weeping as I finished. We then spoke of One who came to change hearts and lives and he said he would like to read a “good book”. I cannot tell you all here, but it was as if I was experiencing in real life pages right out of the Bridge study from last semester’s Wednesday class.
He wants to meet Hamoud. He helped me clear through customs and passport control. Put the guard at ease over batteries and CPAPs – they all knew him. Then carried my bags outside to the car where my son-in-law, “Joseph” was waiting for me. I introduced Joseph, they began to speak in fluent Arabic, and another Bridge link was welded together. They exchanged phone numbers. Ishmael said in two or three days he will call and arrange a gathering at his home, with us and Hamoud, his wife and children. His home is our home and I am his new father and Joseph his new brother.
By the way, I am supposed to be here. I asked Jesus to make that crystal clear. Be careful what you ask Him for… He gives with both hands. More on Ishmael later.
May God richly bless you in the reading of His story. “For every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1: 17-18)