“Since that day I have spent thirty-two years, a changeable man, in a changing world, but John 3:16 has never changed and never will. All those years have only served to endear to me my blessed Saviour and His Holy Word. His unchanging LOVE, unchanging WORD and all-atoning BLOOD is where I rest today”.
from the book ‘Seen and Heard’
(which I miraculously found on my own bookcase, having no idea of how it came to be there)
“You tell me this”, said Shaz* as we sat over coffee, “You tell me: if there was a homeless person lying in the gutter, would it be a Christian or a druggie that stopped and helped him? It would be the druggie every time.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. And I knew she was right.
I said “I agree with you Shaz.”
That stopped her for a second.
We had met for a coffee, but when we got there she refused to have one. Said she’s not paying that amount for a coffee. I offered to buy her one but she refused that as well. So I drank my coffee and she sat opposite me with nothing. Instead she had the sugar bowl. With a spoon she stirred and stirred as she spoke. The constant stirring was mesmerising and I had to tear my eyes away from it. Also it was easier than looking in to her tormented eyes the whole time.
But when I agreed with her, she stopped stirring for a second and said,
“Ha – we agree on something. What do we do now?”
Shaz’s and my relationship isn’t an easy one. To be honest, I have no idea how to handle her. And that’s something I constantly say to the Lord, believe me.
Before Shaz, I thought I was pretty experienced with all sorts of people. When we had our home church for the outcasts there were times where we had seven heroin addicts sitting around our table at once for lunch. We have had neo-nazi’s in our home, murderers, profoundly mentally disturbed people, lonely people, homeless ones, ice addicts, people I met while street preaching, whoever God sent. They were difficult and God always gave us grace for each one.
I first met Shaz in March. I preached at the homeless mission in the city and she was there. Full of anger, bitterness, hard, cold as anything, she told me what her father had done to her from a terribly young age. She asked me how God could forgive someone like that if he repented. And why would she want to go to a place (heaven) where that animal might possibly be? She spat at me that nobody has been able to help her, even Christians.
As I listened to her story my heart broke. And she was right too, I didn’t know how to help her. What the heck do I say to this woman who had been so wounded by the one who should have protected her? ‘Oh God’, I cried out in my heart, ‘help me! I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to say to her.’
I didn’t know what to do, so I just put my arms around her little body, my head on her shoulder and cried. I sobbed. I said I am so, so sorry that this happened to you and I was. I cried and cried as she stood there silent, as stiff as a board while I wet her shoulder with my tears.
Then she moved away from me and I heard her swearing and cursing as she left. I said to God that I am sorry I failed. I couldn’t get through to her and I had no idea how to help her.
Two weeks later she was back at the mission.
She came over to me and said roughly, “the compassion you showed me that other night saved my life. I was going to go home and neck myself but after I met you I didn’t want to anymore.”
Then she swore and cursed Christians and left.
And pretty much that has been our relationship since. She clings to me, she pushes me away. She seeks me out, she runs and hides. Like a puppy who’s been abused and is scared of being hurt again. One time she came up behind me at the mission and hugged me. She literally clung to me. The anointing and love of the Holy Spirit came upon me so strongly that I just cried and prayed in tongues while I hugged her back. And she clung and clung. Then she ran out of the building.
As we sat at coffee that morning she cursed and called me a hypocrite. Everything I said to her was wrong, and she told me off the whole time. It was exhausting.
I left feeling like I had failed, yet there was an inexplicable joy in my spirit.
Two days later in the mail I got a card from Shaz in child-like, painstakingly neat handwriting saying that she can’t tell me this to my face but I am the only true friend she has ever had and that she loves me.
She said she doesn’t know how to be with “normal” people and that is why she hangs out with the street-people.
I cry for these ones. These ones who haven’t known love.
Not long after this we visited a local Baptist church, a good and decent church we sometimes go to. The pastor explained that they want to build a bigger auditorium to be able to seat more people at once to cut down on the number of services over weekends. To do this they are raising $2 million to replace the perfectly good auditorium they already have. I looked around and I knew that they would get that $2 million.
Preaching at the Homeless mission about six people came up for an altar call afterwards. As I was praying for them I felt that God wanted me to particularly minister to a young, tall, dark-haired woman.
I’d never seen her before. Her striking features reminded me of the gypsies I had seen years ago in Europe.
I simply said to her “God wants to say something to you”, but at that point I had no idea what.
She looked at me expectantly.
I said let’s pray.
So as I prayed for her I saw above her head a black bird and a white bird.
I told her this picture I saw and asked if she knew what it meant. No, she shook her head.
Neither did I. Let’s ask the Lord I said.
So we did and then a question for her:
“Have you ever been involved in the occult?”
“No,” she said, “not the occult. Just sometimes my friends read Tarot for me.”
I explained to her Deuteronomy 18 and that Tarot reading is one type of divination which God forbids. She had no idea.
“And horoscopes is the occult too?” she then asked.
“And psychic mediums?”
“But that was years ago,” said she.
I told her a story my pastor told me years ago. The occult can be likened to a legal situation we find ourselves in. We spend an hour with a solicitor discussing the matter, but when we leave we decide against pursuing the legal situation after all and let it drop. However that time we have spent with the lawyer must be paid for despite the fact that we have decided to let the matter drop. And you can rest assured that he will make us pay.
When a doorway is opened into the forbidden spiritual realm it is not closed by time, disinterest or our will. It is only closed through our repentance and renunciation.
I then saw that the two birds represented the two kingdoms – one of light and one of darkness. She was trying to mix Christianity with occultism/paganism, but they can’t be mixed. Those two birds are two very different birds and it’s one or the other. A plain and clear choice must be made. And the consequences are eternal.
The devil will try to murder us outright as Christians (physically or spiritually) and if that doesn’t work, he will bring in mixture. Think of Balak engaging a diviner to try to curse Israel. Murder. When that didn’t work what happened? Mixture. Instead the Israelite men began to engage in sexual immorality with Moabite women, then sacrificed to their idols. (Numbers 24 & 25). Murder or mixture.
Well praise the Lord my friend eventually repented of her sin and renounced it all. At the end of the night she lifted her hands in worship and sung with all her might praises to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom is far above all.
“Far above all, far above all. God has exalted Him far above all. Crown Him as Lord at His feet humbly fall. Jesus, Christ Jesus, is far above all.” Christian hymn
I went to preach at the Homeless Mission on Saturday night and praise the Lord I had the honour of leading two men to Christ afterwards.
pain acrylic and pastel
I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, I didn’t know how I was even going to be physically able to preach. My body was aching, exhausted, sore and bandaged.
Late October I woke up one morning with both my hands and feet tingling. This was constant and it covered both my feet and hands, up my ankles and wrists, non-stop. The doctors couldn’t explain it and I could get no answers. Then my back began to hurt. I have now been in constant pain since November. December was the worst when it was highly inflamed and agonizing. I spent most of December horizontal, including Christmas Day.
Why do you allow suffering Lord?
Because that is the order of things at the moment. The order of things is suffering.
Obviously I prayed. Although I don’t know if you’d call it prayer or just non-stop desperate cries for help. I certainly couldn’t get on my knees, I couldn’t even sit, but I non stop cried out to the Lord. That’s pretty much all I could do in December. I had all the usual questions : Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Have you finished with me God? Will I ever be ok again?
In late December I had a dream.
I was walking in a grassy field with my two kids. There in the middle of the field was a huge wooden cross standing upright. I made my way over to it. As soon as we got close to it the presence of the Lord was thick and strong. The children commented on how strong His presence was. I simply wrapped my arms around the thick, square shaped vertical beam of it and cried my heart out.
In fact I woke myself up crying. I was still in the presence of the Lord when I awoke. I could feel the solid wooden beam in my arms still and the thought foremost in my mind was that Jesus’ nail-pierced feet are so far above me, way up high compared to me.
I have been slowly improving through January until now. Every day I get a little better until…last Friday night I sat down on the couch with a cup of black tea in my hand. As I sat down, focussed on protecting my back, I spilled the whole cup of scalding water in my lap. The pain was intense. I ran straight to the shower/bath.
Though He slay me yet I will trust Him
Job was all I could think about in the bath. Job worshipping God despite his circumstances. I worshipped God in the bath, in the pain. Eventually I went into shock and an ambulance took me to hospital. Apparently if you burn yourself in an area larger than your hand then as your body tries to cool down the burn, your body temperature drops too far and you can go into shock. In hospital….Second degree burns, potential plastic surgery….
So there I was on Saturday night, in pain, still recovering from my back injury, legs and groin dressed in bandages, moving like an elderly lady, having no idea what I am going to say to these homeless people, to the suffering, the scarred and wounded…..
The order of things is suffering.
Man chose his way and now it must run to completion
Man has to be allowed to run with his independence from God to full growth because He will never impinge on his free will. But man has to see that the way he has chosen will never work.
Suffering will be brought to full-bloom
“Except those days be shortened no flesh shall be saved, but for the elect’s sake God will shorten those days”
Then Christ’s order will be ushered in.
To suffer is to be human. To suffer is to be Christian. It is through many hardships we must enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
But there is One who left the glories of heaven and chose to enter the order of suffering. When Jesus took on human flesh He willingly took on human suffering. And He suffered more than any other human: beaten beyond human recognition, betrayed, abandoned, forsaken by God.
He chose the order of suffering for you and me. He stepped into it and brought us redemption. Not that we won’t have problems and suffering any more as His children and friends, in fact we may have more, but that He will be with us through it all.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;” Isaiah 43:2
The other day my prayers changed. I was lying on the floor asking Him to heal my wounds. I looked at the scars on my leg and suddenly I loved them. I felt great affection for those ugly brown, bubbly burn marks.
They identified me with my Saviour
And I thank Him for them now. I don’t want them to completely go. I want them to stay so I “bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus” (Gal 6:17)
I shared my suffering, pain, wounds and the great, great love of our scarred Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with the homeless on Saturday. The presence of the Lord was strong as we came together in our suffering and brought two new babes with us to cling to that old rugged cross.
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