Sitting in our minivan, I waited outside a local thrift shop while my wife perused for hidden treasures. A last-minute date night afforded me some extra time to connect and unwind with my most intimate ally and soul mate, and as I waited for her, I took the opportunity to ask the Lord a few questions.
I simply don’t consistently reflect His love the way I desire to. Why am I so moody? How is it I rest so easily at times in Him and then suddenly choose not to see people the way He does? On top of all this, I had become keenly aware that depending on what the Lord wants to talk with me about during the late watches of the night, my wife oft-times is honored to wake up to someone who might delicately be best described as “not a morning person.” This too, needs to change.
My thoughts were interrupted as another vehicle parked alongside us. Out came four chaperoned adults that I could see where broken in mind and heart. A keen sense of depression and rejection permeated the atmosphere around them. Words and feelings began to build within my spirit until I perceived a self-hatred coupled with the deepest sense of wounding I ever felt someone carry around without being suicidal. Burdens, heaviness, and conflicting emotions swirled within me as Father was allowing me to enter into their lives for the briefest of moments.
Trying to sift through “who was who,” I hopped out of the car and opened the door for them to enter the thrift shop. I smiled and asked the “caregiver” if I could help in any way. I was looking for what I would call, some “rules of engagement,” and was making myself a servant for the Holy Spirit to use.
The man thanked me with vacant eyes and a one word reply. “No.”
Turning toward one in particular, a middle-aged woman, I tried to hone in on anything the Lord wanted to talk with me about. But I just couldn’t dial in. The pain was too great, and I felt overwhelmed. What was worse is that I knew I could not connect with them even if I did indeed gain some sort of conversational inroad. They were all too emotionally guarded. I was locked out of being able to reach their hearts. Helplessness and uselessness began to creep over me, and as the reality of all their pain intensified, so did my sense of despair. The love, compassion and pain for them continued to build, as was that all too-familiar anger that rises like a storm within me.
And my date-night was just getting started.
That’s just great…
So I called “game-over.” I wanted off that playground. I decided I would pick up my ball and play church with the Lord inside the safety of my own vehicle. I knew I would need a few solid minutes to re-adjust to the facade of this realm in order to be somewhat amiable again, and I turned away from the group.
Fumbling slowly for my sunglasses, hot tears already streaming, I prepared to fix my eyes on Jesus and enter His rest. I began my apology.
“Not today, Dad. Sorry. There are too many of them and I cannot reach them all. I am so sorry. There are just too many… I’m so sorry…”
But sometimes the Lord wants to finish what He starts, doesn’t He?
“Raise up fishers of men, David.”
The Lord was referring to the caregiver. The one who was so broken himself that I had guessed if I was actually addressing the person in charge. How that man was even given custody over these other people was beyond me. He was so crushed himself that societally, he was barely able to function.
“I will tell you about him.” The Lord said.
And so, exiting my car once again, sunglasses still on, ( a trick I began implementing this past year as it hides the tears until the last moment ) I headed inside to find him. As I searched, the Holy Spirit shared with me a portion of this man’s story.
Father-God gifted him with a very tender heart. He had so much love to give. His soul was soft to all that was around him. I had never felt such a person before. Pure, innocent and full of wonder was the fingerprint of his soul. The heart of a lion and a king. He was a unique and blessed child.
My whole inner being began to writhe and twist as the Lord pulled back the veil a bit more.
From a very young age the boy suffered terrible scorn and ridicule. The kind that deforms one’s entire being from the inside out. His parents were unable to guard his heart and in many instances, were themselves the source of the pain and wounding. Because of the degree of his tenderheartedness he simply was not capable of developing very good external defense mechanisms. He turned inward. With no safe place to hide, he grew up from his earliest days, a small, fragile little boy who slowly began to hate himself. His mind began to darken and his soul began to fracture. A most exquisite stained glass window… now shattered.
Trapped, and with no answers, that boy made a vow to God. If he ever survived his own hell, he would help others to never suffer the torture his heart was enduring. He would guard the others… to the death.
A true shepherd.
I passed Maija, who was kneeling over something of interest, and as I did, our eyes locked. Everything unspoken was communicated. Smiling up at me, she silently encouraged me to hang in there. She knew I was about Dad’s business and went back to her own task at hand.
“Raise up Fishers of men, David.” He repeated.
Abruptly, turning an aisle corner, I now saw that little boy. That sweet, gentle, soft, and tortured child slowly shuffling away. His feet barely lifted off the ground with an outward gate that reflected his inward malady. A broad, mountain of a man, he stood head and shoulders above me.
“Sir,” I choked out, and introduced myself.
“This might sound strange, but when I saw you a moment ago, I just felt the Lord speaking to my heart about you. It may sound a bit odd but your Heavenly Father wants you to know He sees how much love you have for others…” Pausing, I attempted to navigate the raging currents within me.
I called upon the Holy Spirit to sustain me; to keep that river of Father’s heart from drowning me. All I could see was that boy. I also understood I had to be careful and gentle. Deep down, underneath, I could feel the tremors of some other hidden, volatile pains within him churning.
I very quietly and very slowly, spoke. I conveyed how Father-God saw the pain he went through growing up and yet how he still chose to love, serve and protect others.
“We can only give to others to the amount we have inside ourselves. You have so much love to give these people you are taking care of. Would you be offended if I prayed for you?”
Ever so gently, as if placing my hand on a lion’s mane, I touched his shoulder.
And… I very quietly… gave all I had.
I held nothing back within my heart. My voice quivered and my words cracked. I didn’t care. I prayed for the Lord to fill this man with a revelation of how much he was loved. I thanked God for this man, and for him to come to know Jesus as His Savior and Friend. I allowed Father’s love to just flow through me and rest upon his heart and mind. I agreed with Heaven that this man would pass along a deep love of God to those he met. It was a tender, soft prayer. I could only give to the extent I myself was capable, and to that limit… I gave all. I finished my prayer and looked up.
Tearfully, he attempted to say something, but all he could manage was the faintest of whispers as he nodded and wept. A flicker appeared in his eyes… just a tiny flicker.
We stared at each other in silence. A lifetime of pain was, for the moment, in reprieve. More than that, an initial balm had been applied. The kingdom had torn through.
A beginning… This man would one day roar the sound of The Redeemed.
I went to give him a soft hug and the Lord thundered in my spirit to refrain. I meekly offered up a handshake instead.
“He sees you…. He wants you to know He sees you and loves you… so much. Thank you. I am honored to have met you. So honored…”
The man said nothing. He simply nodded and tried to blink his vision back into focus. Staring intently at him, I wiped my eyes. Then I placed my glasses back on, turned and walked out.
“Bring the kingdom.” The Lord instructed me some years ago. I am nothing special. Truly. I can be moody, contentious with God, and certainly not always a morning person. But, I do have a will. I do have choices. I get to choose each moment of my life if I will seek to get to know my Dad. We can only release the kingdom to the degree we are willing to seek and possess it within our own walk. This is why Jesus died for us.
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21
This has nothing at all to do with works in order to feed a false, worldly-minded sense of identity. This certainly is not about striving to gain some false, self-righteous sense of holiness that flies in the face of the cross that made us holy by the blood of Jesus and that shed blood alone. It is time to put away childish things. We are already fully pleasing by what Jesus Christ did… not us.
The Word says we entered into Jesus’ death with Him… so we may also live the life He lived here on Earth. Jesus came to show us the Father. If we would find out what that truly looks like, then to that degree of revelation we also will show the will of the Father to those around us. This is called “outflow.”
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Rom 6:4
This was a humble encounter where Father used an imperfect, turbulent and often immature son, to share the Living Gospel.
Nothing more really…
… and certainly nothing less.