Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Deluge . . . Of Grace

I was exhausted when I crossed the jetway to board the plane to Honduras. It had been about six weeks of solid work. The day before, someone asked if I was excited about the trip. I told them I would get excited in Honduras. Bad attitude, maybe, but reality. We weren't sure what would happen in Honduras. Our shipping container with all the supplies for a team of 100 people was locked up in customs; the victim of a computer foul up. When we boarded the bus for the mission home, we got news that God had answered affirmatively and the container was on its way. My heart was still not in Honduras.

You see, I had left my friends Dollie and Gerald at home. Dollie was dying, and Gerald was watching the love of his life die. I had felt like this before, when my father was dying in Texas and I had to go back to Louisiana to preach a funeral. Dollie died the next day. I knew I was where I had to be, but I was not sure I was where I was supposed to be. Little could be done. Then my associate pastor's sister-in-law died suddenly. He would attend to Gerald and then drive to Florida for a tragic funeral while I was in Honduras. Then someone stole my bag with cell phone, glasses, and Bible. Then someone stole my pants. While my associate pastor was at his sister-in-law's funeral, he received word that his nephew back in Louisiana had died. I flashed back in time four years, when Katrina devastated our state while we were on mission in Uganda. While in Honduras, three drowned in the local lake. Then, three young men, were killed in a senseless wreck. The grandparents of one of the boys are some of the faithful ones here at our church. All three funerals were Saturday. Aweful. A friend said, horrific.

Sunday we gathered, and I was tempted to preach about grief, death, fallenness. Instead, I preached about worship, the power of God to lift us out of all this mess, especially once each week when we gather together in His name. Psalm 122 was alive and living. Sunday night we gave testimony to what He had done in Honduras. Then we remembered the price of our redemption at His Supper. Then I lost my voice from some strange Honduran infection.

My wife has not died. My brother in law is still alive as are my nieces and nephews. I have not lost a child. I have merely been the pastor and friend of those who have lost, but my heart has broken with theirs. This is part of the privilege of Christianity; the privilege of partaking in the sufferings of Christ as we suffer with others. And, in the midst of it the deluge of it all, to be deluged with grace greater than our sin and greater than the trials. God is awesome and to be His child is beyond compare.