I didn’t get up until six this morning, and rushed right out to fix breakfast. I barely read my Bible this morning. I barely prayed. After breakfast I took a shower, dawdled around several tasks, and wrote my very first attempt at a rap background piece. I was just beginning to feel penitent for allowing so much time to pile up with nothing important accomplished, when we all headed out the door to our dentist appointments.
Papa’d told me that about half of the extra Free Day patients would be in today to get worked on by Don, and asked if I’d come help him talk to them. Somehow, it wasn’t getting to my heart. Not really. I was reading a book in the waiting room when he appeared and asked me to come with him to talk to a young lady.
Her name was Juana, she was twenty-three, and she looked at least as much Romanian as her heritage proved. Papa opened the conversation and then asked me to take over. Her eyes never left my face, she remained completely matter-of-fact as she answered my questions. When I asked if she wanted to repent and become right with God, she answered unhesitatingly, “yes”. I felt sick inside. Maybe it was the fluoride. Maybe it was spiritual warfare. Maybe I was just baffled and confused. Again? Since when did people start trusting Jesus like this? Since when was leading a sinner to the Savior so easy? I exchanged e-mail and phone numbers with her, left her with a Bible and highlighter and vanished from the room.
I spent some time in prayer, in the back room and then sat and talked with Papa while he ate his lunch—very late. We emerged from the office to find that several more patients were ready to be talked to. I’d seen the schedule and noticed an Ashley scheduled to come in. Somehow I wanted to talk with her. As we peeked into the two rooms at the two ladies still waiting for the dentist, my heart was drawn a thin, young lady in a blue turtle neck. “That’s Ashley,” I thought, took a deep breath, and went in.
I introduced myself, and she returned the favor. Her name was “Ashley”. Her hands were clasped tightly in her lap, and she shrugged her shoulders up near her chin as she told me she was nervous about getting numbed up. “Childlike” floated through my mind as I looked into her blue eyes and began to ask about her religious beliefs. Her eyes stayed on my face the whole time we spoke—of God’s holiness, of sin and the ten commandments, of eternal damnation and finally, of Jesus sacrifice on our behalf. When I opened the path to eternal life she took one look and eagerly stepped inside. We prayed, I discovered she lives in D-town, only a couple of miles from me, so we drew each other maps and exchanged phone numbers. I left her reading the gospel of John.
All afternoon I’ve been awash in a mixture of unworthiness, joy, guilt, confusion, amazement and fear. An explosive concoction, I confess.
Fear because I now have three baby believers to try to keep in touch with, and what can I offer them? I know so little. I can hardly keep myself well fed. How in the world will I feed three new believers? Ellen and Juana, I don’t even know much about their current lives. Ashley has a live in boyfriend and a one-year-old son. That needs to be dealt with right away. I don’t even know where to start. My only hope is in the simple realization that I did not save them. Obviously, I did so little. And if God can save them, even speaking through someone as broken and frail as I, then He is able to keep them and to nurture them, even through someone as broken and frail as I.
The spiritual warfare has begun. I am convinced that my adversary is doing his level best to keep me from Ellen, and to discourage both of us by doing so. Only the Lord can win this victory. Only the Lord who already knows the outcome. And only the Lord can orchestrate my relationship with these two girls I met today, since only He could have brought them here and given them new life.
There is no rest in this battle for souls. There is no time to say, “Lord, I am so tired. I just want to relax and read a fun book. I just want to get away and enjoy myself.” It’s all work, struggle, blood and battle. Weakness, sickness, hunger. I am weak with sorrow at my own sin, at my own neglect of the Lord and His Word, His commands, His lost sheep. I am sick with fear of my own inability to be all that I need to be. I am hungry, so hungry for Him, for His Word, for perfection. My heart bleeds. My eyes weep. My soul is distressed.
How, in the name of Heaven, did Jesus bear it?
Lord, this blessing is too weighty
I am neither brave nor mighty.
In the flesh, Thou sweated blood.
I’m only flesh, with nothing good.
Yes, flesh I am, and yet with good
For Thou hast made it understood
That Thou my portion ever art.
Thou art the good within my heart.