Sometimes God takes a season when many things happen in a short period of time and lets me see something glorious.
He did that for me this past week where so many things just seemed to be so right and enjoyable. But until he used Pastor John to tie it all together for me, I was missing the point:
For example, I know from words, cards, letters, emails, looks that I am loved by hundreds of you whom I barely know. What is that? It’s the knitting together of souls with deep, solid affection because week after week and month after month and year after year we have shared precious truth. If you love Christ with all your heart, and you love his word with your very soul, and if I preach Christ and his word with heartfelt faithfulness over years with you, what else can happen but love? And so it will be with all those around you who love the truth. Christian love is not mushy, it is solid affection for those who love and share the truth of Christ.
John Piper, Life Together at the End of the Age
As he said those words, God let me see more of him in all that he had been happy to do for me in the past few days.
Here’s what I had experienced:
- Last Thursday I got on an airplane with Dianne’s full blessing and encouragement. I don’t take that for granted given how complicated things can be at our house!
- I was greeted at the airport by a man I had never met but with whom I felt an immediate kinship. The drive and dinner together did not feel like a meeting of strangers but a reunion of brothers.
- I met a boy named Tyler that night who is changing his family, his church and his region by his very existence. He is also not at all impressed by any of it because of his disability. God’s good design in disability glowed around that young man.
- The next morning I met several men who are in this life of disability. One man, on hearing some good news from another, said gladly, ‘I’ve been praying about that for you!’ A great ‘yes!’ rose up in my heart – these men knew what it is to be in helpful, godly, masculine, affectionate relationships with each other that point them to God!
- That noon I met leaders from several churches (pastors, youth leaders, nursery coordinators) and again felt the delight of coming together around the truth of God’s word and God’s promise of help on difficult things like disability. And they seemed to enjoy being together!
- I also met Hannah’s mom and dad, who delight in their youngest daughter with an extra chromosome and who told stories of how their family and their church has been changed by God through that precious girl. Their daughter has amplified their experience of God’s love for them!
- More than 150 parents gathered that night and I felt their strong affirmation that, of course, life with disability is hard yet God is greater. The conversations afterward were focused on God’s goodness and help in some really hard circumstances.
- I had friends drive hours east and hours west just to see me and support me – how kind is God to do something like that! And how great it was to be present with them, if even for just a little while.
- The next morning leaders from two churches took me to breakfast and once again I saw God’s hand on the work they are doing. At one point one young woman said, “I appreciate all that you’re doing at your church, but that wouldn’t work at mine.” And then she proceeded to share her vision for children with autism. I thought my heart would burst at the delight that God’s fame and goodness can be communicated in a thousand different ways as we lean into him for help. He is the source of wisdom and strength, and we don’t all need to do it exactly the same!
- My family was glad to see me on Saturday, which I do not take for granted! And Paul responded to a gift from my new friends in a wonderful way.
- On Sunday we read together as a congregation from Romans 5, which includes this powerful encouragement: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
- Then Pastor John took an emphasis on the ‘end of the age’ to make the point that this is all about love!
And then I got it – I had been surrounded by people who love the truth and who are quick to love people who also love the truth. What a gift!
Thank you, Lord, for this lavish gift of more of you through being with people who love you and love the truth of your word. Please, Lord, more!