Have I mentioned how deeply I love my little international church group here called The Well? Building relationships there, sharing with one another, the teaching from various people and the Word, the worship, He just uses all of it, every week, to refresh my heart somehow. And heal bits of it which have been battered and bruised in other church situations.
Last Sunday a lovely middle-aged Iranian lady pastor came to share her testimony with us. And I listened awestruck. She grew up in a Muslim home in Iran, and started having visions of Jesus before she was even 5 years old. He came to her when she was deathly ill and His presence calmed her. Then He came to her in dreams all throughout her childhood. She spent her life seeking to discover who this man was in her dreams, and the amount of times "Christians" turned her away and sent her home empty is shocking. But He continued to woo her, and she continued to seek after Him, actually aching with a curiosity that wouldn't go away, until she FINALLY, in her 30's, met someone who could tell her who this man was. And she gave her life to Him on the spot, soon became the leader of an underground house church, and then was evacuated from Iran to Sweden in the revolution when her fellow Christians leaders were being martyred.
Afterwards, various people spoke up and shared the different ways God had revealed Himself to them. The experiences were as varied as the people in The Well-- from every continent, so many countries, ages, life experiences.
The kind Iranian lady pastor and I took the same bus home in the crystal clear Swedish night. I thanked her for sharing, told her how encouraged I was. She wrapped her arms around me with a warm smile, then brushed her fingers across my face like a mother and told me in somewhat broken English how happy she was to meet me. And I was struck by the feeling of being mothered, at a bus stop in the cold of a dark Scandinavian city, by a woman whose years have seen a life so very different from the one my fewer ones have seen. I thought about all the people those hands have reached out and touched across the world, in a life so foreign from my own. And marveled at His ways, which miraculously drew this woman from the time she was a little girl in a part of the world hostile to Him, and how He's drawn me, born into a family where His Name is praised, and which set us before one another on this cold winter's night, so many stories of His faithfulness to us living behind each of our pairs of eyes. United by Him, two strangers who could hardly have had more different lives.
When I got home that night I spoke to my sister on Skype and missed my family. When I recalled her tender touch, reaching out to brush her fingers across my face like a loving mother, I was just reminded of His excellent plan to adopt ALL of us as His children, to give us ALL a role in His kingdom, a part in His body. I cannot possibly express how much it comforts me to be a part of this worldwide family, united with burning hearts so full of His love and His purposes and so alive in this cosmic battle.
And I think remembering all of that is exactly what's got her through all the devastating things her life has passed through, and keeps her going, serving Him, lit up with the love of Christ and aching to pour Him out into the emptiness all around her. She works in outreach to Muslims here. She gave me her card and asked if I would come along and help her some time.
...And all this reassurance just from a kind-hearted reaching out and brushing one's motherly fingers across one's chilly face.