When it comes to truth, we rely on God’s word and His work in us. As a Christ-follower, some things you hear will often cause an “Amen” to rise up inside you.
However, on occasion, our immediate response is an “Ouch.” This is the inevitable result of God’s reminder of His call and instruction for our life, no matter the cost, especially when we have decided for either a moment or a season that it is not worth it and instead follow idols.
My story is part confessional, lamenting the sin that was keeping me from a blessing from God; part praise in the blessing God gave us and opened our eyes to. I write in hopes of encouraging those in a similar place, and in hopes that those who disagree will at least pray and ask the God who is ABOVE all nations what it truly means to follow Him, as revealed in the person and work of Christ. To Him be all honor and glory – Amen (Gal 1:5).
At a missions group a fellow believer said, “Sometimes God doesn’t bring you people in your life because God doesn’t trust you with them.”
As soon as I heard that, I rejoiced that it had become an “Amen.” A few years back it would have been an “Ouch.”
My son had been dating someone he met while working at a local farm – Rosa.
We met her and immediately recognized a language barrier. He did not know Spanish, and she did not know English – this would be hard in any relationship. However, our son was stubborn, so we did what we should and prayed.
We spent time getting to know her. Usually, it was at a distance, though. It’s hard to look back at that time and see that we were not rejoicing. Having an exchange student is temporary – having a daughter-in-law is much more permanent. God was knocking on our hearts, but we kept part of them closed. It’s called sanctification, a process of weeding out sin as the Holy Spirit works His way in us.
God has always worked in the hearts of our family through others. As a family, we have had roughly eighteen exchange students from Europe, Asia and Mexico. However, it seems God had other more costly plans. Some of the cost would be human pride.
That year my son and Rosa were married, and six months later she gave birth to our first grandson. This may not be the timeline we would have chosen, but our family has not stopped rejoicing in their marriage and our grandson. When you look at the wedding and reception pictures, you see a joyous couple and family surrounding them with love. We are in their lives with prayer and help when needed. Daily we see what has happened as a blessing to help direct our hearts to Him and His purposes. He is, after all, the God of all nations, all peoples (Rev 7:9).
Since this change in my perspective and in my heart, I often sense tears on the verge of flowing when I share about our grandson and our daughter-in-law. Tears flowing at a church in Seattle, Washington; tears flowing at church near my home in Oregon; tears flowing at a missions group when talking about welcoming the stranger. These tears flow in response to our current environment where the immigrant and the refugee are stamped with the mark of shame by the “God of this age” (2 Cor 4:4).
However, after the tears have flowed, I remember my hope and the hope of every Christ-follower: hope in the Messiah who came and offered Himself for us. He came not for us to live in comfort independent of others, but rather that we would live to comfort others with the Good News of His reign. His love transcends suffering in the here and now. It creates a new family that stretches across borders, across ethnic lines, across languages.
A few years ago, had I kept a heart of stone toward immigrants and ignored what God was telling me, I would have missed a blessing.
Therefore, I ask you: what blessings are you intentionally missing?
Of what people do you tell God, “Please, don’t bring them to me. Bring them to someone else, God.”
To this proposition, I raise a hand – both hands – “Bless me with them, O Lord.”
By Brian Christensen
Follow him on Facebook