Monday, August 4, 2014

God's Plan A

“It’s just a little walk from here,” she said with a sparkle in her eyes. I already knew that her definition of “little” and mine were quite different. “Shortcut” is another one of her misnomers. I am quite aware of the hike we are about to embark upon.

I step out of the van with nothing but my Bible and a rain jacket. Members of our team are waiting and I can see that they are blissfully ignorant of what lies ahead. With Gladys carrying her youngest baby, Marleni walking with her daughter, Anayeli, and kids running circles around us, we started down a paved path.

Soon the path became gravel-like and took several turns. Like Hansel and Gretel, I wondered if I shouldn’t have thought of leaving a trail of crackers or bread. Directions are not my forte, you know. Talking is less and I hear the huffing of others. I sure am glad I’ve been running lately.

“Right there,” Gladys calls out as we walk past a make-shift fence and a tin door. We stop and run around, making our way through the entrance. Immediately, my eyes shift from side to side to see the ratty conditions of the place but then, I look up. Quickly scanning the landscape I see a house ahead and a steep path above that leading to a shack on the top of the cliff. Somehow, I have a feeling that the summit is where we are headed. Sadly, I was right.

It’s a tiny home (think 250 square feet) with a rigged grill in the front area. A pot of beans is on the coals, and the smoke is wafting out over the sheet covering the door. We are led to the back partitioned bedroom with one full size bed. Light is pouring in the plastic that acts as a wall. Flash cards of sounds hang as decoration on one wall, so someone is learning to read. A picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus hangs on the cardboard behind the bed…”There’s the starting point,” is what I sensed in my spirit.

We engage in small talk and introductions. The woman is in tears already as she pours out her heart about two sick children (one has a heart condition from birth and the other has been in the hospital lately), a husband who drinks and beats her, no money to feed the kids, and a hope that does not exist in her world.

God has, of course, appointed, Marleni to be on this team, and the similarities in their lives are numerous. You see, God designed a time just a few months ago, when Marleni was pouring out her struggles to a few of us in her home. She has been a faithful Christ-follower for years and has invested in the mission church in Lantana since its inception. With every team she gives of herself and her family to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, her life is not without hardships, and she was crying out to God for His great comfort. Today, she stood in a home where another woman shared a similar story.

Opening God’s Word, I quickly went from one passage to another as the translator rattled off the words. God is holy. Man is sinful. Man is separated from God. He is just. We are dead in our sins. He is gracious. Jesus lived a perfect life, died for us, and rose again. And, all you need to do is STOP….um, what? STOP is clearly what God impresses upon my heart. STOP RIGHT THERE. That’s all you are to do.

I gotta admit that the moment was a little awkward. The problem has been laid out - we are sinful and God is holy. We cannot get to Him because we are a depraved and wicked people. The answer has been shared - Jesus Christ came and lived a life without sin, died a death in our place and was raised from the dead three days later. Silence. Silence. Silence. The translator stares at me with questioning eyes. I just stare back. And then, Marleni’s shirt is my peripheral vision….it hits me like a ton of bricks. She taps me on the back and says, “Ask her if she wants to accept Christ now.” I can’t. It’s not my role to play. The question is Marleni’s to ask. This is why she is on this team.

I have never heard her share the Gospel personally because she often prays while we are reading God’s Word. She steps up and looks at me like a baby wanting to be rescued. She is nervous and shaking and not sure what to say. My mouth is closed…just as it should be.

It was not by accident that Marleni was able to share how a personal relationship with God is possible and how Jesus made the way. She talked about believing in God, knowing what He has done for us, admitting and confessing sins, and accepting His free gift of salvation. Then, she said that the road would not be easy and told of her own struggles with a husband who left her earlier this year. She didn’t dwell there long. Instead, Marleni was able to share how God has brought her great joy and peace during this time. Only God did that. And it was good. And glorious.

Isn’t God’s plan amazing? I stand in awe of how He brought us all together to accomplish His purposes as only He can. Praise His name for His great will and the ways He brings it all to pass.

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