It’s strange how we sometimes over and sometimes underestimate our importance. The whole balance of God’s sovereignty and our role as his kids and ambassadors still confuses me. But every now and again, something or someone comes along to very gently show again that through it all God has a big smile that he wants to share. Let me explain.
Once a month my home group visits a home for people, who’ve been discharged from psychiatric hospital, but still need time and help to get back on their feet. Many of these people once had careers that most people aspire to and money and all that, but some kind of stress or trauma just got them to a place where they couldn’t cope anymore. We decided a while ago that we wanted to come alongside these people. We didn’t want a project and we didn’t want it to be like social work. We wanted to share the community we experienced as a home group with people who needed it. We started out with just bringing coffee and biscuits and visiting with these people who really don’t get to communicate with many people in the “outside world”. They stay at this home and so that’s their world. But from the beginning, there was this question of, whether we shouldn’t do more. When would we teach from the bible, pray etc.? Aren’t we hiding our faith if we never talk about Jesus? Aren’t we being spineless if we don’t proclaim the truth boldly and then pray for people. At least those were the questions going through my head.
Last week we visited this home again. Usually we congregate in the kitchen/dining room area but because of the freezing cold (it snowed for the first time in Pretoria that day in I don’t know how many decades) we moved to the living room. We got the guitars out and just started singing worship songs. It was so comfortable and natural. It was obvious that some songs spoke more to certain individuals as is always the case. The point is, they wanted to sing. Just to put this into context, singing is nothing new at these visits, but the number of people that have joined in in the recent past has been, well… humble. I figured they weren’t interested in the church thing. One guy would come, have some coffee and friendly conversation, but once the singing started he was off to his room. I was told that he appreciated the visits but wasn’t interested in anything religious. Now, I struggle with those situations. I want to go and get those people, tell them “I’m not religious…” and basically preach to him what I believe. I know that’s pointless but that’s just my frustration.
So last week, as we were singing, I saw this same guy, scuttling around in the kitchen. I needed another cup of coffee anyway so I joined him and just started chatting about how he was doing, what he’d done before he was admitted to hospital and what his plans were for the future. I asked how the therapy was going and after a short summary he simply said “the Lord works in mysterious ways”. Come again? It came out of the blue and I almost didn’t hear it so I just smiled and nodded. He said “Yes, therapy is important, but there’s this thing happening to me that no one can explain or give me” and then looking up toward the ceiling “I can’t even explain it but it gives me peace”. I told him about what Paul wrote about the peace that is above all understanding and he agreed that that was what he was feeling.
I get chills as I’m writing this. It was probably the simplest declaration of God’s presence I’ve ever heard. He’s with me and I have peace. No explanation needed. And I hadn’t preached a word. I hadn’t put my hands on him and prayed out loud. I just sat there and smiled as I’m sure God did. He had completely blown away my perception of my role in these people’s lives. I have a new perspective and respect for church – God’s holy and ordained community.
Who knew drinking coffee could be so holy :)