"He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted..."
The old 1959 Mercury in front of us looked like it could collapse into a heap at any second. Sputtering and lunging, it finally screeched to a stop directly in front of us in the middle of the intersection. We were a few blocks from campus, and I was running late for our "seekers" Bible study, recently dubbed "the Fellowship" by some of our students. International students from our local university gather to share a meal, to fellowship, and to learn about Jesus. Though they are Muslims, and Hindus, and atheists, learning about the King of kings, and about His love for them grabs their attention and draws them back, week after week.
For a moment (just a moment), I considered swerving around the collapsing behemoth in front of me, but instead I pulled over and helped the young man push his car out of the intersection. After I helped him unstick the choke on the ancient carburetor, my wife and I were chatting with him on the sidewalk when a Chinese girl came walking by us. After striking up a conversation, I found that "Wendy" was a grad student and invited her to the fellowship. Given the grease on my hands from working on the car, and the abrupt nature of the invitation, I was quite surprised when she actually accepted our invitation and came to the Bible study!
"the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness"
That evening we had a wonderful time sharing a meal and sharing the fellowship of the group. Afterwards, we discussed the prophecy of Isaiah 61, fulfilled in Jesus, describing Who He is and what He would do:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound"
I noticed that Wendy was just captivated by the words of Jesus, spoken through the prophet Isaiah, and by the description of Jesus, the great Lover of her soul. She was spellbound as we moved into the following verses describing what Jesus earned for us:
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness..."
Wendy later shared with me her struggles with depression. In a story that is far too common with international students, she struggled with intense loneliness, as well as crippling anxiety about her future. She shared with me how feelings of hope and peace accompanied the words that were spoken to her, as well as a very real sense of joy that she had not felt in a long time. She did not understand it at the time, but the Holy Spirit was ministering to her. He was drawing her into the beloved. We told her Who Jesus is and what He did for her. We shared the good news that He loves her and knows her, and that He desires to be known by her. Moreover, He made a way to bridge the gap between us and God and to make the goodness of God available to us who once were far off.
This was eight months ago. Wendy has continued to come to "the Fellowship," and has continued to hear about Jesus, and about Who He is and what He has done for her. She has heard how He offers hope and healing, and how His victory earned Him the right to take our ashes and turn them into beauty, our mourning into joy. Two weeks ago, there was joy in heaven and on earth when, with I and another student, Wendy gave her heart to the One who loves her more than she loves herself!
For just a moment, I almost went around that old Mercury. I'm so glad I didn't!
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