"May God remind us daily-- no matter what kind of obstacles we face-- that we are loved and empowered by the One who brought the universe into existence with the mere sound of His voice. Nothing is impossible for Him."
--Beth Moore from 'Praying God's Word'
--Beth Moore from 'Praying God's Word'
I just spent the morning babysitting for my friend's gorgeous 2-year-old. He calls me his Sugar-pie and tries to cuddle me literally to death. Good thing he's tiny... and cute!
At one point while he played with his dinosaurs, happily entrenched in his own little world, I sat down over a cup of coffee with the man doing some construction work on this 2-year-old's house; my old Bulgarian friend. Let's call him D. This man is unlike anyone you'll ever meet. His love for God is larger than life, as is his experience of Him and faith in Him. And he's the type to let you know it within moments of meeting him anywhere :) Not even 60 yet, this man has lived a life of Pauline proportions... and tells of it to God's glory every chance he gets.
I sat before him awestruck by the wondrous love of our God as he shared what God has done in his hollywood-epic life. I've heard bits and pieces before, but it still jars me every time. What a different life from mine. And yet, what a faithful God in both.
Growing up in a communist country but with a mind of his own, he came to the attention of the corrupt system pretty early on and by the age of 17 he was wanted by the communist officials, having never committed a crime, only he hadn't stayed in line to their liking and so posed a threat. They told his mom he was dead and sent him off to a reformatory school which he escaped from and fled the country. At 18 he found himself framed for murder and thrown into a year of solitary confinement in an Austrian prison. Can you imagine? The fright, the confusion, the frustration, the injustice... the loneliness! 18 years old! After a year the real murderer was uncovered, he was released and told to get out of the country. Housed in a hostel for refuge seekers when he crossed over into Italy, he was awoken to machine-guns in his face late one night and hauled away to prison again... His country's corrupt gov't was after him, and his photo and info was posted to police across Europe... He spent 2 years in an Italian jail on an island, being visited on and off by advocates fired up at the injustice of his imprisonment and promising him that they couldn't keep him there and that they would have him out in no time. FINALLY, he was told at random to go with some officials to a place near the border of France, and in France he would be able to go free. He didn't believe them and felt he was being set-up when they drove him to a building in the middle of nowhere, so he escaped again, walked many kilometers through the mountains to a village, only to meet someone whom was also a political refugee and told him that, indeed, that place where the Italian officials were taking him was a safehouse for refugees, and the tall fences with the intimidating barbed wire and all were to PROTECT them. At some point in the story when the Bulgarian communists were still after him, he was sitting at a street cafe with some friends and got up to get something, heard a car revving its engines and squeeling its tires, as if the driver meant to get his attention, and then before he knew what was happening, the car gunned it and drove into him, throwing him up over the hood. He doesn't remember anything after being hit, and then standing to his feet again and shooting at the driver as he sped away, but his friends watched it all from the cafe and ran out to see that he was alive, pulling up his trousers to see that there wasn't a scratch on him after an encounter where he should have died. D's eyes light up and his voice grows urgent as he tells this part. "No one would believe it, but there were witnesses! It is only the hand of God. Again and again and again, He has protected me. Before I even knew Him, He was protecting me. And it's only because of His love." If he hadn't been protected behind those prison walls those years, innocent of the crime and just a kid really, his gov't would have found him and killed him...
His tale goes on, but he didn't tell me the rest today. I know he ended up sailing away from Europe and being shipwrecked in Africa, starving in the Sahara where God fed him miraculously. In recent years the miracles have been of healings, and provision, almost every penny of which he gives away... In my point of struggling the most to know where the rent would come from this past December, he found me one day to hand me a large kronor note saying, "If you want to protest, take it up with Him. He told me to give this to you."Meanwhile, I've seen how he lives... Humble is not a low enough word for it... He's also the one whom on numerous occasions God has sent to encourage me at key moments in my time with Rescue Mission, though he doesn't know the specific journey I'm on. The Lord has woken him in the night crying and when he's asked Him where the tears are coming from, the Lord has asked him to intercede in prayer for me!!! (the thought still floors me every time I remember. What is this amazing grace and attentiveness!!!)
I am so encouraged by people's testimonies. The same Lord who has worked in D's life all these crazy years, in all these awesome, unbelievable to the unbelieving heart, especially favoured ways, this same Lord is my God, and yours. He is still just as capable of wonders, just as willing to come through for us, to lay His hands on us and shape and mold and use us for His glory! I sat there with D today and listened to him share only some of the incredible faithfulness of our God with his face all aglow, his eyes glinting with the joy of belonging to this King, and I thought, "Lord, may I radiate just a modicum of that!" I don't want His love to drop through this cracked and weak and frightened vessel in bits and pieces here and there as I gather the courage or as I am made aware afresh of His majesty. I want it to pour through like a mighty waterfall! Constant and cleansing and strong. Because He is Who He is and I am who I am and yet I am His! And He is mine!
O Lord, more faith to believe and to know what it means to be YOURS!!!!!!
I've been dwelling on 1&2 Peter last week and for the first time this line from the beginning of 2nd Peter really stood out to me. Peter wrote, "I am writing to all of you who share the same precious faith we have, faith given to us by Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour, who makes us right with God" (2 Peter 1:1). The idea of being made RIGHT with GOD... only by His grace... it just blows me away to stop and think about. But what stood out to me was this word, precious. It's a word I throw around, but not often one I team with my concept of my faith.
But how perfectly used it is here. How precious it is to have faith, faith GIVEN to us by Jesus! How precious it is to be able to know that God-- The glorious, victorious, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful God-- is FOR us. And will move heaven and earth, unbar prison doors, render laws of gravity powerless to get in the way of His Will for our lives. We can walk in confidence, following Him. And His faithfulness is so great that He is there even when we are not following Him...
He wants us. He wants relationship with us. He sent His Son to be tortured and murdered so that He might open the way for us to know Him and come to love Him. He wants us. How can this be?! How precious it is.... I am so thankful. And I want to pour it out all over everyone, like that waterfall, like my friend D. To the glory of His precious name. Faith in Him is the only true treasure we can acquire and see grow...
"May God bless you with His special favour and wonderful peace as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better."
--2 Peter 1:2
--2 Peter 1:2