Monday, February 14, 2011
God answered my prayer on the morning of February 4th, the day before I was scheduled to fly from Cleveland, Ohio to Guatemala City. I knew it was true when I heard the familiar ring of my cell phone. I was in the bed of a hotel room, hundreds of miles from Cleveland. I had been praying, literally begging God to get me back home to Cleveland in spite of countless cancelled flights. I finished my prayer with a sign of the cross. Two seconds later, my phone rang. It wasn’t God on the other end of the line, but it was His doing. The phone call was from one of my company schedulers. Normally, they bring nothing but bad news. In this case, and only because God was listening, they called to tell me my schedule had actually been changed for the better. I’d be getting home and I’d be going to Guatemala. I wasn’t sure why God was working so hard to get me to Guatemala, but I could clearly see that He was. And a week later, as I flew home from one of the poorest countries in the world, I knew exactly why.
There are moments in this life when God gently knocks on the door of our souls, moments when He lifts us from the shadow of our own selves and into the light of what truly matters. Every once in a while and in spite of our own spiritual blindness, God allows us a moment to see. Before my feet ever touched the solid ground of Guatemala, I was as blind as ever. I was lost in the darkness of my own self, buried beneath the things of this world that don’t matter and never will. His knock would come gently at first, the door of my soul so slow to open. But over time, over the course of one week, the knock became a push and the push became a shove until I opened my soul just enough to let His grace slip in. I wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming power of God’s grace. Who would be? What surprised me, the very thing that changed my life forever, was through whom His grace would flow.
For an entire week, I was confronted by moments when God would open my eyes by breaking my heart. Each moment came as a surprise because I was convinced that grace wasn’t supposed to hurt. It would take a week of heartache, a week of choked back tears before I would grasp the point God was trying to make. Amazingly, and thankfully, I have a picture of each moment. Every, single one of them.
The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) is a charity striving to change the lives of the poorest of the poor. They are dedicated to restoring hope and dignity to the least of those among us. By sponsoring a child or an elderly person, those of us who have never known true poverty are able to get a glimpse into the lives of those who know it all too well. We become friends through the writing of letters. We offer a small amount of money to a family in need while they offer the only thing they possibly can: their love and their prayers. Somehow, over the past four years of CFCA sponsorship, I thought I was the one doing the giving. A weeklong mission awareness trip would show me just how mistaken I was.
Looking back now, I can only thank God for those moments. They are moments I must share because when grace hurts, lives are changed. If we stand at the foot of the cross, we'll know it's true. Although it took some time, I eventually figured it out. The Man on that cross knows the pain of grace, and He is the author of our moments.
Posted by Joe at 1:33 PM