Have you ever noticed – really noticed – how timely, precise and resourceful God is? And not ‘cause He needs any help. (After all, He can think a thing into existence or occurrence if He so willed.) Nope, he uses resources – particularly human resources – to awe and humble us, and at the same time embolden and empower us – all for His glory.
Looking back, God meticulously placed several Christians in my life just so. He introduced (or reintroduced) them at different times, in different circumstances, for different reasons – each time manifesting His nearness, sovereignty and steadfast love for me. And yet, my immaturity (emotional or spiritual), distraction or self-absorption kept me from fully appreciating all that He’d done for me…through them…until now.
I’m just starting to grasp the eternal impact of God’s perfectly timed and calculated moves. Though I didn’t always recognize it in the moment(s)…or worse, in time to genuinely thank some of ‘em, the Holy Spirit equipped some mighty diverse believers – diverse in age, race, culture, experience and life stage – to minister to me, to put some skin around God’s love, make His Word breathe, and reveal bits of the awesome Godness of God.
One of the first emissaries sent my way was a giant of a man — maybe 6-foot-3, white-haired and well into his 60s, if not 70s. I was only seven or eight when he entered my life. We called him “Uncle Bob.” Uncle Bob was an elderly white man with a round nose, big ears and a grand grin, a family man with grown children and grandchildren of his own, a retired pastor who served in Korea (in the military or ministry, or both) back in the day. God grew in him a heart for Koreans and lucky for me, provided a way for Uncle Bob to share His love with Korean-American kids in the U.S.
For years, Uncle Bob served tirelessly in the children’s ministry of our otherwise 100% Korean church. Kindness and affection were written all over his face and demeanor. We listened to his stories, climbed on his back, and crawled all over the old VW bug he barely squeezed into. He’d take us on small group outings to museums and fun places that our 1st gen immigrant parents couldn’t know (or maybe afford) to take us to. He’d regularly mail us church kids sticker-ridden, handwritten letters (letters! in the mail! for us!) encouraging us in the Lord. Years later, in junior high, when I was probably more insecure, impertinent and immature than I’d like to admit, he’d still write me. When I detested life and entertained suicidal thoughts at just 12, his heart broke with mine. When I was in a horrific car accident that nearly took my life at 13, he was there by my hospital bed gingerly tending to my broken body.
But what’s most amazing is that I was only one of many children Uncle Bob ministered to so personally and self-sacrificially. I’m certain that dozens of others would fondly recall and attest today of Uncle Bob’s amazing love so many moons ago.
Even now, thirty years later, I can’t stifle tears of love and gratitude as I speak of Uncle Bob. I so regret not having thanked him enough when he was alive. Last year I scoured the internet and my old letters for any indication of Uncle Bob’s fate – when and where he passed away, where his children might be today…that I might tell ‘em how much their dad had meant to me. Alas, nothing but dead-ends.
But. God is good. As I boasted last time, He’s all about grace and second (or infinite) chances.
A few months ago, the Lord gave me a dream. In the dream, I was at a church picnic at a large park my childhood congregation often visited. It was present-day and I, now 41, was walking in the grass when suddenly, dozens of small children ran excitedly past me up a hill. “What’s going on?!” I called after them.
“Uncle Bob is here! Uncle Bob is here!”
Immediately, I sprinted up the hill to find dear Uncle Bob sitting at a long picnic table surrounded, of course, by happy, laughing kids. I began to weep and blubbered, “Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob! I’ve been looking for you! for sooo long! I wanted to thank you for everything you did for me when I was a kid. It meant so much. So very, very much…” With a gentle, knowing smile, he interrupted, “I know, Anita. I know.” I woke up.
Thank You, Lord. Thank You for not letting it be too late.
You know, I can’t wait ‘til the day I get to see Uncle Bob face to face again. Until then, I can’t forget what even the tiniest dose of “God’s love in action” can do, especially for a person like me, “the least of these.”
I so wish there was space and time to recognize all the faithful disciples God’s used to minister to me.
On the surface, they‘re all ordinary people just goin’ about their business. Kinda like you and me.
With the exception of one or two, none of ‘em hold official ministry roles or went to seminary. And all were, are, flawed and imperfect. Their words or acts could easily be mistaken for insignificant or unnoticeable. But for me, they are Christ’s hands and feet and voice, and their words and actions small reflections of our great God. These ambassadors for Christ range from adolescent pen-pals with childlike faith to a prayer warrior disguised as a poor elderly neighbor, to a handful of courageous Christian wives and moms willing to be vulnerable with and accountable to one another, to a prophetically gifted stranger who speaks to what surely only God and I can know, to a passionate and inspiring young bible study leader, to a most edifying best friend and sister soul-mate.
As my thoughts turn to each of these outwardly “ordinary” people, Mordecai’s words to Esther come to mind:
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14b, italics added)
As sons and daughters of the Almighty and co-heirs with the King of Kings, do we not hold “a royal position” ourselves? And when God convicts our hearts to speak up and speak truth, encourage, serve or simply pray for another – maybe, just maybe, we too were planted there, here, “for such a time as this”?
The Spirit recently whispered to me, “Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, each and every person God places in your life was put there either to minister to you or to be ministered to by you? Or in some cases, both?”
We were created to be Christ’s hands and feet, ears and mouthpiece, when and as He moves and empowers us. Then, on the day we stand before Him,
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
God is love. And His love doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He loves us through others and loves others through us. He calls you and me both to be His love in action. And God is faithful, precise and resourceful. Because He chose me, He’ll make me the right one for the job. Stop doubting, stop shying away, stop making excuses. We’re running out of time, people. We’ve come to our royal positions for such a time as this. Point to the One who loves and saves, and follow.