As I drove to Target to get the photo enlarged, I thought, "I can't believe this is why I'm getting this photo reprinted." As I drove to Hobby Lobby to get a frame and easel, I thought, "I can't believe this is why I'm shopping for a picture frame. (By the way, in true God-has-gone-before-me fashion, large picture frames and metal easels were on for half price this week. Whoa.) There his picture sat on the table in my long entry way, ready for the memorial service yesterday afternoon.
What a healing time. What a unique time. Usually when I go to a memorial service, I feel like I'm partly going to comfort the family. His family is 10,000 miles away. This time, it was simply to be in the presence of those who felt close to him and to share stories of how he touched our lives and revealed the character of God in our circumstances. The fifty (or so) of us in that room yesterday were very much family. We cried, we shared, we mourned, we rejoiced for him, we prayed for his dear family. It was as much a picture of the "Body of Christ" as I've ever seen. I felt truly connected to everyone there, with a connection that transcended knowing and loving Dr. Sam, and that's what he would've wanted.
I'll share what I shared (if I can remember, and if I can see the computer screen through the blur of my tears!)
Several years ago, when Ghana remained a place we'd never been, but was still a prayer on the lips of my (then) 9 year old daughter, she and a friend had a snow cone stand in front of her friend's house. She spent the night at her friend's, and we met the next morning at the soccer game in which both of their brothers would be playing. She showed me the whopping $6.35 they had made, and told me that they were going to give the money to Africa. To Ghana, specifically. I thought that was a fine idea, and mentally wondered how I would get that exact money over there, wondering if perhaps I should add to it enough to make it a big round number and simply write a check... come to think of it, how do you get pocket change like that over to Africa? Hm. Well, I'd figure out how. Little did I know, God already knew how.
Within moments, our dear friend Jeff approached us with this tall gentlman, whom he introduced to us as Dr. Sam., visiting from Ghana. Wow, what a "coincidence!" The girls were so excited, because they had just raised money for Ghana, and now there was a real, live Ghanaian to whom to give it! That precious man of God knelt down and accepted that money from those two skinny, blonde girls. While on one knee, he put his big, dark arms around them and prayed a blessing over them for caring for the people of his country and for giving to God's kingdom work. I now know that he was to be travelling to Pittsburg and all points in between before heading back to Ghana, but I have no doubt that that snow cone money made it all the way back and was put to good use in one of his (many) ministries. He conducted medical missions as a doctor, he started water well projects, he began a ministry to raise goats for hungry families... he always found a way to minister to the physical needs of his countrymen with the ultimate goal of ministering to their one TRUE need- a relationship with with Jesus Christ.
And, as he had once scooped up my little daughter and assured her that her $6.35 made a difference in the Kingdom, he did that for me spiritually. So often in the presence of the spiritual giants whom God in His grace has ordained that I should meet, I feel like I am bringing a meager $6.35 worth of spirituality or giftedness to the endeavor. Who am I? Just a suburban, homeschooling mom! But, when we were with Dr. Sam here, or when we were over there visiting his clinic and praying with his patients or partnering in a medical mission, he would assure us that what we were doing was making a difference in the Kingdom. But not just on the mission field. He encouraged me to see every area of my life as "Kingdom Business" and to operate in the Holy Spirit on all occasions.
I didn't share this yesterday, but this has been simmering in my mind the past few months...Last summer, he was with us around our table on a Monday night. He had preached at our local African church the day before and it had apparently uniquely met a need. He shared that he didn't know what he would preach about until about 4:30 that morning. How did he know? God told him. God woke him up and told him. He had an awareness of a specific need in that congregation, so he specifically addressed that need from the pulpit. So, I had to ask. How do you know that things like that are from God? He told me that it is in two ways: (1) If it is backed up by God's Word, and (2) If it comes to pass. He was fully prepared to say what he was to say, and for there to be no visible response. It still was what he felt led to preach about, and it was in God's word. But the fact that what he said met such a specific need further affirmed that what he had understood was of the spirit. He told me he kept a pad of paper in his pocket, and when he felt the Holy Spirit impress something on his heart, he wrote it down. Then he would wait. If the event came to pass, he knew it had been of God. Or if it was something he needed to act upon, he would act in faith anyway, and God would confirm it. Were there certain things he had "acted on" that God hadn't "confirmed" yet? He answered, yes. That was God's business. Were there times it was confirmed right away? Yes. Again, that was up to God.
I'm quite sure I'm not adequately conveying what he said or how I understood it, but it has changed how I pray and how I "listen." I, first and foremost "listen" through God's Word. His revealed, unchanging, complete, accomplishing Word. If what I'm thinking does not match up to a Scriptural precedent or the whole counsel of Scripture, then I know it is just me... a fleshly thought. But, if what I think I'm sensing in my spirit is of God, He has been so faithful to back it with His Word. And then, in His grace, He has allowed events to come to pass which bore out what He was impressing on me. It's so unexplainable, but it's real. It's one way that walking alongside Dr. Sam has changed me personally- daily dialoguing with my Father, all day, throughout the day. And I keep a pad of paper in my purse. :)
Here's the kicker: So many of us shared yesterday about what he said to us, wise words that he spoke into our lives. I have posted about the sermon he preached. He was a strong, vital man. But the real miracle is that he spoke anything at all. This man, not long after we met him, had to have his vocal chords removed due to throat cancer. He had no voice! When he spoke, it was in a raspy whisper. I believe one of the reasons he was still audible at all was that God had words for him to say, and just as he was supernaturally able to speak them, we were supernaturally able to hear them. Really. It's hard enough sometimes (especially for us English-speakers who only know one language anyway!) to understand someone's thick accent. But how much more difficult is it if that person has no vocal chords? I believe God helped us understand Dr. Sam because He wanted us to hear what he had to say. Dr. Sam was able to speak because his message was of God. And what he spoke has changed many, many lives.
If you have read this far... bless you! It has been so healing for me, after a dark, silent week on my blog, to post this. Thank you for your sweet comments, too. They blessed me more than you know.
And that's the Body of Christ, too.
Have a blessed Lord's Day.