Monday, September 3, 2007

A Gift from a Stranger

In church a few weeks ago, David and I sat in the back pew (a very long story -- we LOVE you Poppa Dave and Mommy J, our back pew buddies), Momma J and Poppa Dave and the other "back pew faithfuls" were not there that week. We sat next to a wonderful young mom with a very well behaved two year old. She and her husband are currently home on a 10 month sabbatical from their missionary work in Cambodia. That is truly a calling -- the training they have undergone to learn a specific dialect is quite arduous.

Anyway, in a brief conversation, I showed her the latest picture of Pickles, and went on to explain that our trip to Africa had been delayed because of a paperwork error and how much of an emotional roller coaster we'd been on for a few weeks. Half-way through service, she leans over and hands me a note on a piece of the church bulletin she used to write it on. This is what she wrote:

"Isn't it wonderful to know our Father cares for Pickles in this way. :-)" Then quoted the following bible verse:

"Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
and carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes."
Isiah 40:11
I sat there a little stunned, because honestly, I really don't know this young lady except in passing. I admire her greatly for her dedication to her husband, her child, and God's calling in her life to be a missionary in Cambodia. For her to reach out to me in such a tender way, was a little overwhelming. But what I recognized in her was a Christ-like manner to serve others. Quietly, softly, that moment in the back pew showed me more about how to be Christ-like than anything I've ever experienced in my life.
I've asked myself so many times over the years how can God allow such bad things to happen. A few years ago I came to the realization that God uses our trials to strengthen us, produce perserverance, character and hope. And in turn, when we come out of our trials, God uses those experiences to minister to others. "Blessed is the man who perserveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, we he will receive the crown of life God has promised to those whose love him." James 1:12 NIV. I don't know what trials this young woman has been through, but I saw a quiet and humble compassion in her that day. Her compassion might have been the direct result of some trial she experienced or she may just have the gift of mercy, whatever it may be, that moment was a divine intervention by God. Only God could have arranged such a beautiful moment.

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