Yesterday evening, after I called a halt to my work for the day, I sank into my hammock to relax a little, trying to ease the pain of a raging headache. It being Wednesday, I thought of church service in less than two hours, and considered how the rather loud Caribbean beat often accompanying church singing would effect my head. The thought was not a pleasant one, and tempted me to stay at home instead. However, I asked the Lord for strength and drove off, having chosen to go to a church a little further than the one across my backyard.
I arrived at the church only to discover the musician not present, and the entire sound system left covered for the night. Ah, God cares for little details like pounding headaches and booming rhythms! :) The pastor stepped up and called one of the church members to come and lead the service. I smiled as the designated service leader took his place behind the podium. I have known the man for most of my years here in Belize, and have always appreciated his exuberant attitude, he is not a halfway sort of person. Neither is he a man in need of a PA system, having been blessed with a wonderful set of lungs, and the ability to project his voice quite well, so well in fact, that even without the sound system, his was the only voice I could hear singing last night besides my own. I have always wondered how his powerful voice would sound with a little bit of training. As it is, he has not been blessed with the ability to stay in the same key as the musicians, another reason to be thankful for the lack of musicians last night.
As I watched this man joyfully bounce to an unheard rhythm as he sang, I thought of the tales I have heard through the rumor mill of his struggle to remain in the ways of the Lord. I really cannot remember the details, and I have no need to, but I know that things have changed in his life as a result. I have heard that he has left his former profession (humble as it was) because of the constant temptation he found there. He now chops yards to make a living. I suspect he does so by swinging a machete rather than running a lawn mower. He mentioned how singing songs to the Lord in his mind helps a discouragingly long job fly past in no time. He talked of wanting to please Jesus. Simple and slightly uneducated, his words began to pierce through the foggy pain in my brain and speak to my heart. Here is a man with incredible zeal. He desperately wants to live for the Lord. He does not want to go back to his former way of life. And yet... he has been handed a tough course to follow, for sadly, he has been handed religion without relationship. He has zeal without knowledge. Crying out desperately for God's mercy, he hasn't been taught the path to victory in a moment by moment relationship with Jesus Christ. Am I making wrong assumptions? I sincerely hope so, yet hearing his words, knowing some background, and interacting with the same scenario on a regular basis, I think I am not mistaken.
And thus my heart is burdened today. How to help people like him see the truth and experience the delight of Christ in us, the hope of glory? How to get them to understand that salvation is not just a hope of making it to heaven some day, but is the reality of being saved from ourselves today and living a new life in Christ? That is the challenge on my mind this morning, and I ask you to join me in praying for God's truth to be revealed, not just to people like the man last night, but to the people around you and I each and every day. May our lives be useable as instruments of truth to those God places around us, and may He receive all the glory.