Saturday, September 24, 2011

Find Us Faithful

I follow a blog 'oodles of grace' by Susan. She is a hospice social worker and her heart warming tales blogs move me every single time I read them.  Her XYZ post today was/is no exception.

I'm sure I've posted this before, but Susan's so reminded me of this time in my life, so I'm doing a re-run:


I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
~Phillipians 1:3-6 NIV

How does God speak to you?  Is it in the quiet of the morning when you come before Him in a spirit of devotion?  Is it then He reveals Himself to you through His word and through prayer?  Is it in events or circumstance that you can clearly see it was a “God Thing”?

For me, it is generally the latter – the events or circumstances that God generally reveals Himself to me.  Sometimes it is even so far past the original happening that He brings the event to my mind and heart that when it is revealed, I feel like such a slow learner.  For it is in that moment I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was there, orchestrating the entire event.  Things I had overlooked become crystal clear and when it all comes together in my mind and heart I have an overwhelming sense of Him holding me, hugging me, loving me.  I’d like to share one such occasion.

The year was 1982 and our son was just a toddler.  Dennis and I had been struggling in our marriage – wondering if it was going to last, questioning why we didn’t seem “happy” in our existence together.  We were not yet Christians.  Oh, we were “good” people, co-existing in a family unit, but something was missing.  And that missing something left an empty, hollow feeling deep in our hearts.  This is when God began a work…

It was an early spring Ohio day, when Dennis called me and asked that I pack up our son and meet him at the local Golden Arch establishment for lunch.  Great, I thought, now that’s one less task I have to accomplish before I get ready for swing shift – fixing lunch.  So off we went, my son and I, to meet Daddy for lunch.

Dennis ordered and I found a place to sit and a child seat for Nicholas.  Dennis set our meal down and we proceeded to devour it, when in they walked… He and She.  To this day, I cannot tell you what attracted me to this elderly couple, but it was so strong, so palpable that I couldn’t ignore them.  I merely observed.

He proceeded to the counter to place their order and She found a place to sit.  In short order He was back with their order – 2 cheeseburgers, 2 cups of coffee and one French Fry they would share.  He set the tray down, seated himself and then they clasped hands, bowed their heads and prayed.  I felt the quarter pounder lodge in my throat and tears formed in my eyes.  It was so obvious that Dennis asked what was wrong, to which I just put my hand up and shook my head, I couldn’t speak.  For in that moment of prayer between that elderly couple communing with each other before their Heavenly Father, I was graced to witness a small presence of eternity, in MacDonald’s, of all places! 

Then just as suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a sense of loss… for I knew that little, elderly couple had something that Dennis and I did not.  They had something so real, so tangible that bound them together.  This “something” allowed them to weather the storms of life and to come out better for it.  Little did I know that “something” was Jesus Christ.  The emptiness in my heart and soul was even more acute.

And so it goes… we left that Golden Arch establishment and went on with our lives.  During the tumultuous next several years, I decided to divorce Dennis, but then that’s another story for another time.  Through the ugliness and accusations we somehow were brought to saving faith.  For Dennis it was immediate, for me it was more of an erosion process.  The Lord had to wear down and whittle away the callouses that surrounded my heart and soul.  He was faithful to do that and sometimes, often times, it was painful.

Now we will fast-forward to 1986.  Dennis and I had sold our home and were relocating to a remote area in Ohio to live on a 20 acre farm (what were we thinking?) and for what Dennis felt called to do – enter the mission field.  We had been accepted to an aviation mission and  we were required to raise our own funding (but again… that’s another story).

As things often happen when moving, tensions were high.  I planned an escape with our then 16 year old daughter – we headed to none other than that Golden Arch establishment for respite and questionable nourishment.  We got our meal and sat down.  This time, we offered a blessing to the Lord for His provision, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?  That very same elderly couple entered.  Wonder of wonders!  A divine appointment, I’m sure!

He again went to the counter to place their order and She found the place they would sit.  Again, He sat down their meal – 2 cheeseburgers, 2 cups of coffee and one French Fry they would share.  Again, He seated himself and they clasped hands and bowed their heads in prayer.  I couldn’t believe it!  Here they were!  I was beside myself with joy – to see them again!  Before I knew it, I was at their table trying to tell them about my first siting of them years ago, how it had affected me and the inevitable outcome.  He, it turned out, was hard of hearing, so I had to repeat everything I had shared about 10 decibels louder.  Everyone who was in MacDonald’s that day heard the story of how I had first seen them years ago and how what I had witnessed between them had softened my heart to the message of Christ.

I told them of how I had often thought of and prayed for them over the years – could I know their name?  Winkler, they said.  We covenanted then and there to pray for each other.  How wonderful it was to meet them again and to share with them what their simple act of faithfulness in prayer and devotion had done in our lives. 

And life goes on… we’re fast forwarding another couple of years.  It is the holiday season and we are visiting family back in the area we had moved from.  I determine to catch up on all the news as my Grandmother has a stack of newspapers laying on the floor.  The very first article I read is about a tragic traffic accident.  A car pulls out from a secondary access onto a major highway in snowy weather.  They are broadsided by a semi truck and are killed instantly.  They are this very couple, the Winkler’s.  I gasp in horror and tears begin to stream down my face, when just as suddenly I am overcome with a sense of peace.  An image of them and a scripture verse comes to mind.  I imagine them hand in hand, approaching the Lord Jesus Christ and Him saying, “Well done, My good and faithful servants!  Enter into the joy of your Master!” (Matthew 25:23, Tamara’s paraphrase).

How wonderful that the Lord would allow them who loved so dearly and so deeply to enter into His presence together.  I look forward to meeting the Winkler’s again, sometime, somewhere in eternity.  I thank God for their inclusion in my life and for their faithfulness in the little things – public prayer.

Tamara