I just love when God pulls everything together so perfectly that we could never have planned it better ourselves and it just reminds us of his presence, his love.
On Sunday morning when we arrived, the doors of the community center where we meet were locked. This may seem like an inconvenience, but for Jean-Philippe and I, it was yet another way God was showing us his power.
So…rewind. Saturday night at our house. The worship team is practicing for Sunday morning. Felix mentions that he really doesn’t like having to practice again on Sunday mornings because people are always mulling around listening. So, doors locked, they can’t practice beforehand. So, yeah, small, hardly worth noting…except for all the other pieces God put into place.
Sunday morning before church. We go to our friend’s house to pick her and her two kids up to go to church with us. It has been about 2 years since she’s last come to church. Her son comes every once in awhile. But, we’ve made a commitment that we’ll come pick him up every Sunday now to get him out of the house. Last week he came alone, but this week when he realized that his Mom would be home from work, he wanted to stay home instead. So, she decided she’d come too to encourage him. When we got to their house Sunday morning, Joe (invented name) refused to get out of bed. We would have left without him but his Mom (let’s call her Cathy) wasn’t willing to give up on him. Jean-Philippe knew he’d be late for the practice for the worship time, but didn’t push. Finally, Joe made it to the car.
So, Sunday morning we arrive at church with Cathy, Joe, and her 13-year old daughter Amanda (an alias), who also hadn’t been to church with us in ages. And then wait for a half hour for the doors to be unlocked. Wouldn’t we have felt terrible if we’d left without Joe?
Then, the service. Francis preached this week. Amanda has a lot of respect for Francis because he’s always taken an interest in her. So she listened very attentively. Afterwards she said she was impressed that he had memorized his sermon. She was touched about his recounting of Corrie ten Boom‘s decision to forgive the guards that beat and eventually killed her sister while in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. She had seen videos of the atrocities of WWII at school and therefore had some background to make sense of it.
The family has lived through much violence, so a sermon about forgiveness really hit home. Francis was so clear. Forgiveness does not mean that we allow the person full access to continue hurting us, but that we trust God to heal and redeem.
After his sermon, Francis asked the worship team to return to lead us in singing « I Surrender All. » This is rarely done at Crédo, yet while they were practicing Saturday night Felix mentioned that it would be appropriate to have a time of consecration after the sermon. Jean-Philippe let it pass without further comment or thought. And yet, God had orchestrated everything.
We were witnesses to how God put together the events of the morning to open Cathy’s heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The music moved her to tears. The sermon too. Then the final singing of « I Surrender All, » « All to Jesus I surrender / All to Him I freely give » revealed her need to give up her worries, her cares, her fears, to God alone.
Afterwards we started talking about the sermon, which Cathy had found so profound, convicting, and true. It led her to ask me a question. She told me that a friend of hers gave her the name of an angel that she can pray to for favors. She figured that as Christians, we would know more about it. She wanted to know what I thought. I explained that the Bible is clear that we can pray directly to God since Christ is our only mediator. (Which is why Protestant churches do not have priests or pray to saints or Mary). The angels that are here on earth are most likely demons, the angels that rebelled against God. The angels that stayed submitted to God do what God created them to do: worship Him. Yes, perhaps an « angel » that she would ask for help would do good things for her, but would lead her down a path that leads away from God. After all, Satan is described as an « angel of light. » While following this light, we are led away from the true light, Christ. Sure, Satan can seem to help us. Otherwise, why would we be attracted to him? Yet, God is the one who created him, created the angels, and created us. And more than that, He’s the One who provided true life. For Christ declared Himself « The Way, The Truth, and The Life. » And then, God provided the manner to have access to this life, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Cathy hung onto every word. This was the first time that I was able to explain the Gospel to her clearly. When I had attempted to share the Gospel with her in the past, she would change the subject or would be distracted. But Sunday she didn’t take her eyes off of me. She asked questions, answered my questions, was totally engulfed in the conversation. And it clicked. God loves her, Cathy, so much that He sent His Son to die for her as a sacrifice for her sin and even more than that, Christ came back to life three days later, lived on earth another forty days to prove to all that He had been resurrected and then returned to His Father in Heaven to intercede on our behalf. He is alive! We have hope to live forever with Him in Heaven when our lives on earth are over. And while we are here on earth, His gift, the Holy Spirit, guides us, sustains us, and teaches us.
She got it! She hugged me tightly and the tears flowed. I’m excited to hear in her own words if she decided to accept the message at that moment or if the message just became so clear that she knew she had a choice to make. I’m not sure and will definitely talk to her about it again.
This post is for Jean-Philippe and I a rock, a monument. It reminds us that God still winks. He still breaks through the clouds to show us a tiny bit of his glory. We forget so quickly. May this remind us time and again of how He works, that He is a personal God, that He loves us.