Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Doubts, Ducks and Devotion

Last night was awesome! Today was too. Miguel, who trusted Christ around Christmas, has been without work for over a month. His wife, Iris, came to saving faith last summer, as a direct result of contact with a bunch of crazy, Spirit-led college students. They have four kids, 7 years old and younger: Iris, Fernanda, Miguel and Lupita.

Iris, between tears yesterday morning, related to me how Miguel had begun to doubt whether God was really with him. Miguel, a truck driver, thought he had a job twice now, but a bad reference, maliciously bad from a former employer, struck down two job opportunities. At their request, my wife Mayra even tried to call the woman who is propagating these lies, to give Miguel a chance. No dice. The woman hung up on her. So Miguel, a new believer, has seen his life in some ways go downhill since his conversion. Not the first time we've seen this happen. It is a test of new faith, and not an easy one at that.

So after the Bible study that Jim Cottrill gave last night (which was excellent), I invited Miguel out for (what else?) tacos and an informal counseling time. But I wasn't going to do it alone...I needed help. So I took David Gómez, my son Daniel, Miguel Islas (deacon at Sendero 1) and finally José Palacios to bring their testimonies and gifts to bear. We would encourage Miguel if it took till midnight. It almost did!

After tacos and some preliminary questions about the trinity and the nature of prayer (just to get warmed up), we ended up in the Palacio house and tackled Miguel’s most relevant heart issue. Why does it seem like God isn't there, doesn't respond, doesn't change our situation. Doesn't He know? Even more haunting...doesn't He care?

José began by telling a story about a duck hunter. He said that the duck hunter had a buddy along that would go and get the ducks that the hunter shot. The hunter's friend went and got the dead ducks, but the wounded ducks he left go, and they often would flop and walk away, and disappear. The hunter told his friend to not worry about the dead ducks, because they weren't going anywhere anyway, but to focus on catching the wounded ones, or they might escape. (Ok, so those of us who know something about hunting might see some holes in this story, but it worked for us last night!)

José's point was that our enemy doesn't worry about those who have no relationship with God. They're not going anywhere. But those of us who have begun to get to know God, well, suddenly we grab our enemy’s attention. We went on to talk about the desert experiences of many of God's chosen servants, including Jesus Himself, and what these desert times can teach us. I just sat there, marveling how my brothers were ministering to the newest adoption among us. Just like old pros. Just like fresh, new saints.

I knew something last night, something that was going to happen today, and did happen today. Yesterday afternoon I mentioned to Tiffany that she should communicate Miguel and Iris´s situation to about 7 interns that got to know Iris and her family last summer. Today, Tiffany was able to give the family a nice offering, thanks to the love and generosity of some poor college students.

There are, occasionally, moments when we come to an oasis in the middle of the desert. There will be a time, coming soon, when the deserts will be but a distance memory. But our days wandering around the big, dry dunes are never wasted. Often, quite often, fellow vagabonds help us get through those dry times, remind us that a crystal-clear river is ahead of us, right on the horizon, where land meets sky, and a trumpet sounds.

To the extent that we allow ourselves to enter into these dry times without losing faith is, perhaps, directly proportional to the degree of exhilaration when we are able to fall, face down, into a clear, cold stream. And then we will stand up, and see others with us, dear friends, proven brothers…and they will be smiling. The crowd will part, and Jesus will be there, looking, laughing, loving. A huge, contagious, irresistible look of total and utter welcome will be on His face. “Come, give me a hug, and drink, drink deeply.”

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