"And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9
It was a meeting I didn't really want to take. The previous day I had completed a nearly 30 mile fast hike with some friends. The hike was part of a birthday tradition of a group of us middle-aged former athletes and ex-military guys who were trying to prove to ourselves that we've still "got it." As it turns out, if "it" is aching knees and hips, sore calves, and exhaustion, then we certainly succeeded! Though we completed the hike in pretty good time, the next day was pretty miserable! I was sore, still exhausted, and feeling generally poor. In addition to this, a minor disappointment that day had left me, I'm embarassed to say, feeling a little bit sorry for myself! Poor me!
One of my students had reached out to me before the hike asking to meet for coffee that afternoon. A young man from an Islamic country in the Middle East, he had attended a few of our "seekers" Bible studies and was very engaged. I assumed he had some questions about some of the topics we had covered. A brilliant young scientist working in a highly theoretical field, his questions during the Bible study revolved around shared consciousness between the different members of the Godhead and the seeming contradictions netween the fully divine, yet fully human Jesus. Moreover, he wanted to discuss the nature of "spirit" and how our spirits are able to access God.
As it turns out, God had other plans!
I wasn't sure that I would be able to provide answers that satisfied him, even on a good day. Given my exhaustion, physical pain, and generally poor attitude, I was secretly hoping this meeting would be brief. As it turns out, God had other plans!
I really just wanted to get to know the guy. We discussed his family and his path to the US. We discussed the local community that he was a part of and his role within that community. It was when we transitioned to discussing his research that he quickly turned to questions about God, about the intersection of faith and science, and about theology. Though I felt inadequate to the task, the discussion proceeded and I was engaging with him a little bit differently than I normally would. I could tell that my answers were coming from the Holy Spirit far more than from me. It turns out that he was struggling with some philosophical objections and with some seeming contradictions, and through the discussion his objections were satisfied, the seeming contradictions were reconciled, and he was really excited. He confessed to me that believed and asked how to become a Christian.
Even in my weakness, HIS strength came through. Especially in my weakness...
It was right at that moment, seemingly on cue, that the old pentecostal preacher showed up. Long retired from ministry, my friend had been in the hospital for weeks, and I was so surprised to see him. To be honest, given the condition he had been hospitalized for, I didnt expect to see him again this side of heaven. But here he was, right here in the coffee shop, coming up to us right as this young man was asking how to become a follower of Jesus! I made quick introductions and shared with the preacher what was happening. Right there my aged and ailing pentecostal friend explained to the young Muslim man about sin and separation, and about the redemption and reconciliation that Jesus earned for us. I was in tears as the old preacher prayed with my new friend as he gave his heart and life to Jesus, the true Lover of his soul. I was in tears as they prayed. I was so excited as this young man was entering into new life, but also overjoyed that the old preacher, whose very presence was a miracle, was able to be part of this. As I looked up, they both were in tears, as well.
I'm so glad I made that meeting! Even in my weakness, HIS strength came through. Especially in my weakness...
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