Do you ever long to see God at work in a tangible way? In the midst of the mundane, God sometimes feels far away, doesn’t He? We begin to wonder, “Lord, do you see me? Do you know me? Do you care?” Last week my son called and shared an astonishing story clearly revealing God at work. See if you agree.
For a couple of months now, Ben has been serving as an interim campus pastor for Christ Community Church in Kansas City.
He is meeting with people right and left. He wants to know the staff and the people of the congregation. Likewise, the staff and the congregants want to know him. Who is this guy with the long hair and man-bun anyway?
Preparing to preach on Sunday, Ben got up at 4:30am on Thursday in order to work on the sermon. The day ahead was filled with back-to-back meetings. As Ben entered a coffee shop later that afternoon, he was worn down and wondered if he might postpone this next meeting. Tired and feeling the weight of Sunday’s sermon, he prayed. In his words, he told me:
I really didn’t have a good excuse to put off the next meeting, and so, I asked God to make something happen.
In essence, Ben prayed to see the finger of God, His power and presence.
Their conversation began as most conversations do with a little small talk. Ben had played soccer. Steve had played soccer. In fact, Steve had played professionally after playing for Indiana University back in the late 80’s. Nothing triggered for Ben. As the conversation continued, Steve mentioned that while at Indiana University he had participated and served actively as a Navigator. Ben’s antennas went up.
The Navigators are a para-church organization often found on large college campuses. They help disciple college students to grow in their faith in Jesus. Interestingly, my husband was also a Navigator at Indiana University. Ben grew up listening to us banter and debate which group is better - the Navigator’s or the Campus Crusaders. Yep. Cru is the Christian group I participated and served in while at Indiana University. One funny stereotypical quip goes like this:
Never-dater Navigators always marry Campus Crusaders.
Sometimes stereotypes offer a hint of truth. For a couple of years in college, my hubby participated in the “Bachelor Till the Rapture club.” (That didn’t work so well, did it? LOL!) I could unpack some of the other differences between the two groups, but the fact of the matter is this: both groups influenced the trajectory of our lives. Through these respective organizations, my husband and I grew in our faith in Jesus and we learned habits that influence our faith to this day. I was discipled one-on-one by a Campus Crusader named Cindy. My husband was discipled by a Navigator and soccer player named Steve.
Ben’s antennas had gone up. Thinking that most likely there would be no connection, he asked anyway:
“Wait a second! You don’t know my dad, do you?”
“What’s your Dad’s name?”
Steve looks at Ben and exclaims, “You were in China!”
In that moment, their minds melted. As Ben shared the story, my mind melted. The last I knew, Steve and his family lived in Washington DC. “Wait!” How can Steve be attending a church in Kansas City? How is it he was in a KC coffee shop chatting it up with our son today? I’m so confused?!”
Dave has not seen Steve in over 42 years since Steve graduated. But it just so happened that while we were living in China, Steve reached out to Dave via Linked In. His wife, Kim, and son, Greg, were traveling to China, and he asked if they could stay with us overnight. Steve would not be with them, and Dave was going to be on a business trip. Dave came to me and asked if I’d be willing to host two “strangers.”
How fun! I jumped at the opportunity. Kim and I only enjoyed a short time together, but she felt like a kindred spirit. After all, we are sisters in Christ. We also had another connection: She too was a Campus Crusader who married a Navigator. Some of the stereotypes hit too close to home! Oh, how we laughed!
Where in the world am I going with all this?
Let me attempt some clarity!
Steve discipled my husband. He influenced the trajectory of my husband’s life. This influenced the trajectory of our son Ben’s life. And now, more than 42 years later, Steve encounters, meets and encourages our son!
Ben invited Steve to his upcoming wedding right then and there. After all these years, Dave will reunite with Steve, and I myself will get to meet a man who greatly influenced our lives for Christ.
When an author writes a fictional book, he or she plans for encounters like this between the characters of the story. In subtle ways, characters are introduced at the beginning of the story and “by chance” meet again later in the story.
In this case, Ben’s real-life, true story provided us all with a glimpse into how God writes His story in our lives. How gracious of God to present us with such a clear and vivid window into His work!
This scenario points to an “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment!
Had Steve not faithfully discipled my hubby, would Dave and I even have married? Would we have had a son whom God called to the pastorate? And look at the hundreds of lives potentially touched for Christ by the faithfulness of one man coming alongside another a few decades back. Before Steve’s eyes sat, in essence, his spiritual grandson! And this grandson is opening the Bible and preaching at his very own church!
Clearly, God writes and is writing His marvelous story in our lives and in our hearts.
Friends, why do I share this story with you?
One, I hope it encourages.
I’m guessing that you like me, don’t always notice God at work like this in your everyday life. We don’t always see the dots connecting. And when we don’t see God, it’s easy to get discouraged, especially when the circumstances of our lives aren’t making sense. Hearing God stories encourages us.
Secondly, I want to remind us: Seeing God is exactly why God gave us the Bible.
The Bible is God’s gift to us such that when we slow down to open it and ponder, we can see God at work through the narrative of scripture. We can read His story and marvel at all the dots he connects. We can awe over His power, be reassured by His grace, strengthened by His faithfulness, and comforted by His love. We can personally see, know and enjoy God through the Bible. This gift is at our finger tips.
Do you want to see the finger of God and experience His power and His presence? I pray that we all will experience God hugs in various ways, similar to Ben’s story. But friends, in the day after day after day when God feels far away, we can draw near to God, see and experience Him through His Word.
Every. Single. Day.
I invite you to jump on board with us as we seek to do exactly that in our Simply Bible Exodus study. Come and see God at work. As I better understand the God of this great epic story of Exodus, He is rooting, grounding and transforming my own heart.
Finally, friend, I hope you will invite someone to come and see this God with you!
Back at Indiana University in 1980, Steve would never have imagined sitting in a coffee shop with a spiritual “grandson.” But God did. He is in the business of disciple-making, and he delights in the far-reaching ripples of discipleship.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
A friend of mine texted me this week after she had just helped her daughter prepare for both a math and a Bible test:
I feel like a pro helping my daughter study the “How to study the Bible” part! Thank you!
Who knows, could I someday sit in a coffee shop with her daughter seeing God at work?
Open up God’s Word with another. It’s way more fun to know and enjoy this awesome and epic God with a friend. Together, through discipleship, may God melt our minds and our hearts that we might be conformed to His image, love as He loves and forgive as He forgives.
Lord God, we marvel at Your mercy and grace to us. Thank You for Your Presence. Help us to hunger and thirst to know and enjoy You through Your Word. Every. Single. Day.
Join us for SIMPLY BIBLE Exodus! Online studies and daily study videos begin this week. Click here for more details and to register.