Wednesday, March 1, 2017

“Strange Garb"

"Strange Garb"     
   It happened again.

   Several years ago, I wrote about a Christmas Eve gathering at a local retirement community where Frances and I conduct services.  Staffing was scheduled to be low at the facility because of the holiday, and we didn't expect that our regularly scheduled meeting would take place.  We decided to visit our friends and fellow believers nevertheless to extend Christmas greetings individually rather than have our usual service.  A dear lady named Mrs. Patricia, however, would have none of that.  "It's Christmas Eve!" she said after learning about our plans.  "We have to have a service!"  So, she journeyed up and down the halls of the facility on her walker, enlisted help from the few staff members available, and we ended up having one of our most memorable meetings.  I can still see the brilliant sunlight streaming through the windows of the cafeteria where we held the service on a very cold, late December afternoon.  Even more, I see the faces of the dear people who attended, many of whom have since gone on to be with the Lord.  And I see Mrs. Patricia, doggedly determined and making her way to gather people for the Christmas Eve service that, in her heart and mind, we just had to have.

   Yesterday was Mardi Gras Day in our home city.  It's a big event for many people, and we knew that staffing would be low at the facility where we were scheduled to conduct two services.  The facility canceled one of the meetings, but we were unclear about the other.  We decided to go in the hopes we might be able to gather enough folks to meet, and if not, we thought we might be able to greet some of our friends individually.  Upon arrival, it seemed that the meeting might not occur.  Mr. Chester, however, arrived in the cafeteria, and after a brief greeting, I told him our plans.  Mr. Chester, by the way, had a stroke years ago.  He is confined to a wheelchair, and if you ever meet him to shake hands, extend to him your left.  His right arm was immobilized by the stroke, as was his ability to walk.  Like Mrs. Patricia, Mr. Chester decided that we had to meet.  He therefore left the cafeteria, speeding down the halls in his power wheelchair to gather folks for a service.  He was successful, and we had yet another meeting to be remembered.  I won't share all the details, but suffice it to say that one of the chefs of the facility was so moved that he joined us, singing with us our closing medley of Amazing Grace/Jesus Loves Me.  

   I share this with you because I strongly believe that we should expect the unexpected when it comes to the Lord's involvement in our lives.  When circumstances make matters challenging, difficult, and unlikely, our Heavenly Father seems most determined to administer the grace of His loving involvement.  I believe this to be true of every aspect of our lives.  When it comes to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must expect the unexpected.  He sends His Son in ways we will never anticipate if fail to realize the enigmatic way in which He so often works.  "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:38).  Who knows, God might lead the Lord Jesus to a cross of suffering, shame, and death in order to save us!  Indeed, if we fail to remember that our very salvation resulted from the most seemingly unlikely means, we will not see the strange garb in which our Lord often comes to us.  Mrs. Patricia and Mr. Chester, God bless them, realize this.  I'm grateful for the example to my heart, and now to yours that reminds us to expect the Lord to do His best work in unlikely circumstances, both in this day and forevermore.

"My expectation is from Him."
(Psalm 62:5)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

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