He sees the one

A beautiful person house sat for us while we were away for the Easter break. She is dangerous to darkness because she will listen and respond. She shared the most lovely testimony after we came home, a testimony that continues to show that God is the God that sees and cares for the one.

© Andrey Kremkov on Unsplash

Easter Sunday morning she knew she was to head into St Pauls Cathedral in the city. She got herself organised and caught the train into town.

As she stood on the station, she realised she did not have a mask (masks are mandatory on public transport) so she quickly checked with the stationmaster who informed her she could jump on and risk travelling without one. Many do. She thought twice and caught the train, believing she would be late if she went back for her mask.

Arriving ‘on time’ she stood outside the church with another woman and mentioned she had forgotten her mask. The woman looked at her and promptly produced a spare. A God provided the solution.

Mask situation taken care of, she then realised with a level of frustration that she had forgotten daylight savings ended that morning – she was an hour too early.

Irritated, she considered heading off for a city jaunt. However, as she walked she kept finding herself drawn back to St Pauls Cathedral.

Go to the service she would!

© Sincerely Media on unsplash

Sitting in the large church, she estimated that there must have been approximately 2000 people in attendance. It was not the usual type of service for her, and so she was interested to know what God was up to in the moment.

She tells me she enjoyed much of the service until she heard a loud snoring emanating from a source behind her. Turning with the many others, she noted a woman about 2 rows back whose bowed head was in deep sleep.

The noise irritated many around my friend. People ‘tut tutted’ and nodded at each other while glaring at the snoring perpetrator. Yet, not a single soul got up to waken the slumbering woman, regardless that the service was being drowned out with the sound.

My friend said she watched, waiting for someone to awaken the woman gently. Sure someone would help, she watched the ushers wander past to count the crowd. Not a single person moved to wake the sleeper, to help her avoid embarrassment.

© Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Becoming certain that this was why she had been told to head into town, she argued with God.

Someone else closer would surely interrupt her…

An usher will surely come to her help…

Surely a Church full of Christians would gently engage with the woman to help her wake and avoid the shaming she might feel upon waking.

My friend prayed someone closer would help.

Not a soul moved.

Compassion flooding her, my friend got up, walked back the 2 rows, and sat quietly next to the woman. Once seated, she whispered to the woman who woke with a start. My friend told her gently that she had been snoring, that she was not there to condone, but to sit by her side. The woman did not look at her and said nothing. My friend continued to sit by her side.

As a trained nurse, she recognised the woman was suffering with some form of mental illness. She had perhaps had too much sleeping tablet the night before; whatever the cause, she did not know that she had been making such a noise.

The beautiful thing was that once awake, the woman fully engaged with the entire service. She sang at the top of her voice and listened with intent. God was clearly engaging her heart.

Who knows the outcome of that single act of inconvenient obedience!

© Ben Eaton on Unsplash

My friend sat, now understanding why she had gone to the service.

God knew.

God had seen this woman.

A kind-hearted Father wanted a lone woman to hear, engage and most importantly be protected from the shame that would follow had she realised what she was doing.

God had seen and sent my friend on an inconvenient journey because…

God is Good!

The God who sees (part 2)

© Sam Manns
God gave me kisses on Thursday. I had been flat, I needed encouragement.
He is the God who sees…

The next day, I saw a great friend. You know the type: encouraging, positive, loves your quirkiness and knows you well enough to brush the dirt away gently to reveal the gold while calling you higher. Community matters!

Home again, I sorted daughter responsibilities, and felt to take our dog for a quick walk. Her life long buddy died recently, and she is more needy these days.

As I walked I thought about two random moments from years ago. Both these moments involved drunk guys. Andrew had stopped for them. One was a homeless man whom Andrew took shopping – he had cried tears in delight as Andrew ‘just happened’ to pick up his favourite foods and load up the trolley. The other man wept in the dark as Andrew sat by his side in the local football stadium, talking about his broken marriage.

These ‘random’ memories should have pointed me to what would happen next – but I was none the wiser.

As I walked into the local footy oval, I saw a man to my left. At his feet was a wine box, with a couple of bottles of champagne.

© Michael Odelberth

He averted his gaze. I sensed sensed his shame and as I did my heart went out to him. His despair and sadness was tangible. With a nudge to acknowledge him as I walked past, I smiled gently.

‘Hello,’ I said.

A quiet ‘hello’ came back.

I continued to walk, and I ‘saw’ in my mind’s eye a picture of me sitting next to him on the park bench, talking.

I never choose to sit down next to drunk men at parks.

I prayed instead.

The image in my mind stuck.

‘I will stop for him and sit if you like. Just let me know if I stop on my first or second lap.’

As I came near to where he sat, he got up.

‘Oh, he’s leaving,’ I thought, ‘missed it.’

However, to my surprise, he merely shifted along to the next park bench. Some men had been working on the turf, so I reasoned he was perhaps uncomfortable. He seemed a gentle soul. He later told me he had become too hot in the sun.

His shift of seating made it difficult to join him, so as I walked close to the boundary fence instead and said, ‘Are you ok?’

‘No, I’m not, I’m actually really struggling,’ he replied.

His vulnerability was raw.

© Alicja Gancarz

‘Wow, that must be tough. Do you want to talk about it?’ I asked.

He did, and he started talking.

After a little while, I mentioned I was a Christian. I explained I had felt prompted to come over to see if he was ok. Note: I have great local non-Christian friends who would have done the same.

I told him about the picture I had of us sitting and chatting. He said that sounded nice.

We sat side by side on the park bench. I listened some more. He spoke. I prayed for him. He wept.

I told Him about the God who sees him, who loved him right as he was. I spoke briefly of my messes…

I told him God did not judge the drinking, the pain, the mess, the self medicating; instead, I explained, God adored him. I responded to a comment that God did not judge him, that Jesus had dealt with all that, but then I said I was not there to preach.

I repeated God loved him so much and merely hated the drink because it hurt him. I also said that God sees and hates the hurt that he was trying to stifle, and like a good Father wants to see him set free in order to have a wonderful life.

© Jen Theodore

As I prayed, I saw a picture of a little boy. The boy was so full of joy and excitement about football that his eyes shone with delight. Speaking to the broken dream in his heart, I prayed for the boy who had played football and cricket at the very oval we sat beside.

I told him he could not be any more loved than he was right now, just as he was. He shared his struggles to believe in a God that could ‘allow’ such pain in the world. I told him he had good questions, and I responded by telling him of my own struggles with faith when faced with the brutality my refugee clients had survived.

We kept talking, he wept, he drank, and my dog sat patiently by my side.

Eventually he said how much my saying ‘hello’ had meant to him.

It was a tiny, yet significant, act of kindness.

I shared how God prompted me to sit by his side, and how I had prayed for him as I walked all around the oval.

‘Really?’ he said…

© Natasha Ivanchikhina

I said simply, ‘He is the God who sees, He loves you, He cares’ and I thought of my encounter the day before.

He is the God who sees…

Eventually I stood, I needed to leave. I had to return home to help my mother, whose sister (my aunt) had just died. Promising to leave Andrew’s number at the reception of his accommodation, I said we would love to see him for a coffee. Drunk or not, it was ok; he was welcome just to catch up.

He said he would like that.

I felt the urge to give him a hug; but ignored it the first time. Feeling it again, I offered him a hug. He immediately responded ‘yes’ and threw his arms around me in a way that he was desperate for love. He was hungry for the acceptance that only human warmth can provide. As I hugged him, I hoped he felt the Father’s heart. I could feel his basic human need to be seen and to be loved.

I hope he calls for a cuppa.

I also hope he can kick the addiction and step into his inheritance. I had prayed a future I saw.

He has kicked the habit before. I believe he will again.

Yet, even if he can’t, he knows there is a God who loves him, right where he is at. He knows there is a God who sent a random female stranger to sit and talk on a park bench for an hour.

Yesterday, God gave me kisses…

He was the God who sees…

Today God gave him kisses…

He IS the God that sees…

I hope and trust that this man at the park tasted to see that…

God is Good!

© Suhash Villuri