DAY 2 – A MAN CONVINCED

9:10 and I glanced at the door, wondering if he’s coming today. A few minutes later I look back and he stands there, looking lost and confused. When he notices me I smile and give him a wave as he proceeds to take a seat next to me.

I wept for this man last night. It was almost as if I could see straight into this man’s heart – the utter despair, desolation, and loneliness came over me and I wept bitterly because I knew it didn’t have to be this way for him. Luke 15* came alive last night and this morning and you can see the stains of my tears as I wept over this lost son. Half of me wept for joy at the celebration the Father will have for this man.

I had a vision last night. We’re going to hold a celebration for this man. When the Father reveals himself to this man he’s going to come with me to my home, the Father carrying him on His shoulders. I’ll open the door and everyone will be there. All who loved this man as Christ does will welcome him home and celebrate with the Father.

During the lecture I tell the angels that encircle the lecture room that this is the lost sheep who will be found. I bet they’re excited and I’m thankful God would use a nobody like me to do His work.

Ten minute break and I lean over and ask, “Patrick, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Terence?” He knows my name. I’m glad he remembered.

The second lecture starts and I’m getting distracted by the guy in front of me to the right and the other guy to my right. One’s playing on his laptop, the other on his phone. I realize after awhile that the god of entertainment is having his way with these guys, and it’s getting to me too! I roar in my heart and tell the god of entertainment to go in Jesus name. No sooner did I finish my sentence when the phone guy stops, puts his phone back in his pocket, and the laptop in front of me runs out of batteries.

Wow. God is here!

Lunch time and Patrick takes his seat on a table of four. It’s a beautiful day and I’m content to observe from a distance. I watch them talking for 15 minutes and I wonder if anyone is actually listening or if everyone is just talking. I wonder if anyone cares about the well-being of this man the way I do; if anyone has ever asked him what he really feels.

Practical time and I notice something about Patrick. He will never dismiss anything you say. Most people, including myself, would be guilty of dismissing people with an ‘I don’t know’ or an agreement just to avoid conflict. I realize coming home now that this man listens acutely to what you say and doesn’t haphazardly choose his words. He makes me wonder whether any of us think before we speak like Patrick does.

The end of the day comes and I ask him how he likes Australia. He says he like the independence and he dreads going back home (to Scotland). I ask him whether the people over there are different.

“Well, the people here are . . . interesting. They’re . . . hmm. . .”

I smile and say  nothing I’ll show you what people are like over here I thought to myself. The children of God all will. Then you’ll give me an answer. See you tomorrow Patrick. Get ready for day 3.

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*Luke 15 is the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son:

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.                – Luke 15:3-7

“Half of me wept for joy at the celebration the Father will have for this man.”

This is a wonderful thought. As I read over this entire journal for the first time, the one thing that struck me was the faith that Terence had in Christ.  Not once does Terence use the language of a man unconvinced and hopeful, but instead uses the language of a man convinced and expectant, only wondering when God would achieve His goal. That is why I decided to name this post “A Man Convinced,” because I felt this was  the point when Terence truly believed God’s call on him to love Patrick, and even though he isn’t quite sure what God is going to do with his obedience, he is convinced God is going to use Terence and the love he shows to achieve something great.

I also loved the moment of observance in this journal, when Terence is simply taking in all that is happening around him and Patrick, and realizes the qualities of Patrick that I don’t believe would have been noticed if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit helping and guiding Terence to love Patrick as Christ does. It’s amazing the things we’ll notice about people when we truly care about them and their well being, rather than only caring for people out of our own agendas and obligation.

Here’s a question I leave you with: Can we truly love someone as Christ loved them if we simply do so because Jesus told us to? Or must we first embrace that love which Jesus has shown us? Without understanding the love that Christ shows us can we truly love those around us out of anything except obligation?

We must strive to love out of Jesus’ command, but learn to love based Jesus’ actions and the example of that love He’s shown us in our lives, as well as in His word.

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DAY 1 – MEETING PATRICK

AUTHOR’S NOTE: From here to the end of this series I’ll be the secondary voice of this blog, with Terence acting as the main voice. Because of this, Terence’s journal will be in regular font. I’ll comment here and there, and my comments will be made in italics. Enjoy!

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I met this man today. It was on a field trip for Integrated Catchment, the day after FRESH camp 2011. If it wasn’t for FRESH and the things that were said this would never have been written. If God didn’t show up the way He did that weekend none of these events would have occurred.

We were in a group of 8 digging up some soil. There was this man that questioned whether we were doing it right. He seemed pretty smart. Immediately I knew there was something different about this man. The way he spoke was different – very soft. He had an issue with his speech; stammering and lost for words sometimes. I had no problem with that; I neither drew near to converse with him nor avoid speaking with him.

We moved to the next site. I was talking to another man I met about basketball and how they couldn’t settle the lockout despite earning so much. “You must be talking about sport!” That man again. We laughed and agreed. At the next site that man was trying to get the GPS to work. I helped him out – that GPS was hard to figure out. After collecting the samples we exchanged data. Someone didn’t roll the soil properly so we had to change out readings. This man asked me to tell him the updated readings with quite a stammer. I looked at him and gave him the new readings. He didn’t have to be ashamed of his stammering around me.

As we left to the next site I remember him telling me or asking me something. He stammered and struggled to get it out, more so than before. I blinked at him and answered. I think it was then that I saw this man smile for the first time. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

I didn’t talk to him much from then until the end of the field trip, although I overheard him talking about baseball with the other man I met.

Around the second site, I came late to a conversation this man was having, overhearing he was colorblind. He motioned to the bushes in the near distance. Red flowers on green shrub. “I can’t tell red from green” he said. I’m not sure if it was at that moment or later that I thought to myself, “I’d love for Jesus to come into this man’s life and bring some color.”

At the end of the field trip we got off the bus. We were hanging around to see who would volunteer to bring the supplies in for testing. That man came up to me and extended his hand.

“Patrick” he said.

“Terence.” I shook his hand and he shook the hands of my other group mates and walked off. I didn’t think much of it then.

After saying goodbye to my new acquaintances and driving home, I realized that something in me desired nothing more than to show the love of Christ to Patrick, and as I replayed the events of the day in my mind, I knew for certain that I would pray for this man and allow Christ to reveal Himself to Patrick at the end of this course.

When I replay the moment I saw him light up and smile I get chills that run up and down my heart. I want nothing more than this man to smile because of the joy that Jesus brings.

I sent an email to all the people that went to FRESH camp, telling them about Patrick and asking them to pray that Jesus would come into his life and bring some color into his world.

I’m filled with an inexpressible hope and joy for this man. I know for sure that Jesus would love to encounter Patrick and show him love.

Patrick, when you come to the LORD and read this you’re going to remember the time I first looked you in the eyes. You are never going to forget the moment you shook my hand and introduced yourself to me, because in that moment God did a work in my heart that I will complete until the day I die. Patrick, I’m coming for you. You don’t know it now, but I’m going to show you the Father and you’re going to thank Him all the days of your life that He chose someone as useless as me to carry out His work.

When you come to our church, you will be welcomed by a community that has been praying for you since day 1. Throughout the next weeks, months, years, or however long it takes, I will be recording names of people who give me verses to proclaim over your life and when you come to our church, you will read these letters and put faces to the names you read. Patrick, I will see you tomorrow for day 2.

Terence Wong

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I couldn’t help but see myself in Terence, specifically with his proclamation to Patrick, saying

“when you come to the LORD and read this you’re going to remember the time I first looked you in the eyes. You are never going to forget the moment you shook my hand and introduced yourself to me.”

You’re going to remember me. That’s basically what Terence is telling Patrick. Terence has no problem hearing God’s call, yet once the call is accomplished, he finds himself seeking recognition for the completion. (Terence recognizes the pride in his pursuit in a later journal, and we’ll see his focus shift as a result.)

Too often as Christians we feel we deserve recognition for accomplishing God’s will. I am guilty of this, and if you’re truly honest with yourself, you’ll probably find you are as well. We must ask ourselves: would we still strive so fervently to do God’s will if we knew we’d never receive any recognition for it?

We must be honest with ourselves, and if we answer no we must remember who the God we serve really is.

If we accomplish things with the sense that it was out of our own strength, we will never be able to grasp the greatness of our God. We must realize that we are worthless, helpless creatures without the strength of God in our lives. It is never by our own strength that we accomplish the will of God, but by God’s strength in us, and when that will is accomplished, we must praise our God! It is incredibly easy to praise ourselves in times of victory, yet without God would we have been victorious?

In humility and worship,

Joel