I noticed her tights right off. I wondered if she might have found them in a dumpster somewhere. Her skirt was very short, her blouse very unusual, and her voice was scratchy and loud. She was the most unusual character that surrounded my friend and I.
We were ministering in a church of several unusual characters. They dressed different than most people in the churches I have visited. They looked different, too. I have been overseas and have seen a few unusual characters, but none of them were in churches. They were usually on street corners begging.
Surely my friend was noticing how different the atmosphere was in this small church.
I was wondering if she might say something to me about it. You know, pull me aside and poke fun about those surrounding us.
I wasn't about to, but I really thought about it. I was beginning to believe that perhaps there really were aliens on the earth.
But my friend never ever mentioned even one of the strange sights, smells, or sounds that we witnessed. We were in the same location but she was so far above me. She was focusing on the heart of each one present, not their outward appearance.
She taught Sunday school first. She poured her all into the lesson on prayer. She used energy like she had been storing it up for days! She gave point after point. I took notes. I was learning.
Was the President of the USA in the room? Or was the Queen of England tucked away in a secret corner or perhaps in a disguise somewhere? I wondered. My friend acted as if people of great honor were present. She treated all present with much respect, love.
Sunday school ended and the church service began. Three or four more characters joined our small group of believers. The worship was a little sour and more awkward. Finally it was time for the preaching so my friend took the platform. A hush settled as all were attentive to receive a word from the Lord.
Words of faith began to pour from her. Testimonies of wonders and grace flowed from her heart and filled the sanctuary. Energy began to rise as my friend testified of the greatness of our God. She preached long and hard. No one hardly moved. Everyone hung on every spoken word. I said "amen" over and over........I couldn't help myself. The Lord deserved His glory! I was getting pumped by the power and promises of the Word that my friend was so eloquently expressing!
An altar call was given. The little woman with the tricolor (lets just say.....not so pretty hair) was one of the first to hit her knees at the altar. My friend prayed for each one that came forward. She ministered with love and patience in incredible measures. She spoke words of compassion, words of exhortation, and words of promise while laying her hands on each one. Her voice was coming against doubt in their hearts, against fear, and against despair. She treated each soul as if they were a precious lamb in the Shepherd's fold, and thus they were.
Her beautiful actions of humility chastised me, then they melted me. I was in despair over my own sin. I could only see the outward appearance of those in the small congregation. I was not seeing the hearts of the people.
I confess, I wanted to take my friend aside and say, "Did you see......?" or "What did you think of.....?" or "Could you believe......?" I didn't say any of those things out loud, but they were in my heart. I realized that I "prefer" some over others. I go quickly to those who are so easy to love while turning my head when there are those who are less appealing. James 2:1-13
I saw a lacking in my heart and I was so broken! I saw pride in my heart and I was crushed!
I cried all the way home. I turned on the worship music and cried and repented while pleading with the Lord to have mercy on me. I recognized my wickedness and asked Him and pleaded with Him to forgive me. It was a two hour drive so my tears should have run out but I went straight to my bed and cried more when I got home. I couldn't even talk about what I saw for days. It was too amazing to put into words.
I don't think this post can adequately describe the experience either. It was one of those times that you probably had to be there.
Well, I WAS there and the Lord knew that I needed to be there.
My friend demonstrated humility to me that day. She made me aware of my need. I was so broken over my own arrogant heart that it took some time to weep before the Lord and let Him renew me. I don't ever want to go back into the garments of arrogance that I shed that day.
Not ever! I hope that He stripped me of ALL of them!
I was not only grieved for the attitudes of my heart that day, but for all the times I had been so arrogant in the past. I have toted an attitude that belongs in the waste dump! I picked it up somewhere, maybe even the womb, I don't know, but it does not belong in my heart!
Jesus died for everyone! He doesn't look at the outward appearance and then turn away, no He looks on the heart. He says "all" so many times. He came to seek and save the lost, that means ALL!" We all have been lost souls in need of a saviour. Even the funny looking ones. Even the needy ones. Even the dirty ones. He came to save them. He died to save them. He came to prove His love for them. So in this I ask Him for the grace to follow Him so that I can better serve Him.
It is beautiful when the Lord reveals our own heart to us. Because of His great mercy, He pulls back the veil to expose what really resides in the chambers of our being. When He exposes, He is ready to begin reconstructing, restoring, renewing, while responding to our repentance.
He used my beautiful, humble friend to reveal the truth of the condition of my heart. Her right attitude, right posture, her genuine actions not only revealed but also convicted my own heart. I am so thankful for her. How precious was this deliverance. The weeping lasted awhile, but joy came. Joy always follows the freedom we gain with repentance.
I am so grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful for forgiveness! Oh, how I praise Him for His unfailing love toward me!
Should a similar opportunity arise, I pray that I will demonstrate the kind of humility that my friend so effectively demonstrated for me. Then, perhaps, by His grace, with His help, someone else will be set free.