Never what you expected...
The convergence of studying Acts 3 and moving my mom into assisted living in Fresno this week has been a powerful reminder that life usually unfolds in ways that are different than our expectations. In Acts 3, the lame guy just wants a hand-out, but Peter has much more in mind; not a hand-out, but healing; not just walking, but worshiping; not just an encounter with Peter, but an encounter with Christ.
So this week, all I've wanted to do is move furniture, sell stuff on craigslist, buy other stuff for mom's new situation, and get on with life. Instead, God breaks through and reminds me, time and again, of His faithfulness in my life, and how He's been writing a story on my heart for such a long time. For example:
1. last night, in going through one of the many boxes that are filled with papers in need of sorting, I found a letter from me to mom, February 1976. It was the letter where I told her I thought God might be calling me to leave architecture school in preparation for a calling in ministry. "As much as I love creating, and designing, and buildings, I can't imagine spending my life investing in these things when I could be investing in people's lives more directly through ministry". There it was, in my own hand, and I mark the moment: "thanks for the reminder God, that you were clearly speaking back then - help me to keep listening."
2. sorting through a bookshelf, I found the biography of Henrietta Mears, the woman who began Forest Home. I speak at Forest Home, and every time I do, I'm reminded that I'm standing in the same place where Billy Graham preached to college students, and found his calling as an evangelist. As I paged through the story of her life, I saw a picture of her standing on the very stage where I preach, and another picture of her with Billy Graham, and I am reminded of how 'great a cloud of witnesses' has gone before, and what an awesome, amazing, privilege it is for me to stand where these giants have stood. I'm reminded that the torch is in my hands, in our hands at this moment in history. I pray to be found faithful.
3. I find my mom's Bible, and her parent's Bible, and eventually even a giant 'family Bible' from about the 1870, and I realize that I've been adopted into a powerful heritage of faith - generations of people who walked with God, as farmers and carpenters, working in the oil fields and the peach trees, teachers and bakers. I found gratitude to have 'found my way' to such a family.
There's much more happening that's less profound: details that are giving me headaches, backaches, and weariness. But in the midst of it all, reminders of how God's hand has been on my life make me grateful, humbled, and intent to keep the faith, however haltingly, for another generation, because someday my great grandchildren might find my Bible, see my picture, and be challenged to press on.
This isn't what I expected by being here this week - but it's what I've got, and I'm glad.