Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Please Bring Me More of These Readings!"

Well, that doesn't happen every day.

At least not to me, anyway.

This morning, I went to interpret for one of my regular patients in Boston - we'll call her "Mrs. P". I've written about her before; we had a conversation about the injustice of suffering last November, and how Christ suffered the greatest injustice of all when He bore our sin.

A couple of years ago, I mentioned in passing that I could not make it to one of her appointments. I was leading a women's Bible study on Romans at the time, which I explained to her when she asked what I was teaching - and she told me that she, also, read the Bible although it was difficult to understand. As I happened to have a few Bulgarian Gospel tracts I had translated for just such occasions, I gave her one and said that it should shed some light on the "big picture" of Scripture for her. She eagerly accepted it, and several times since then I've sensed that she was tryoing to get me to talk about God in a round-about way.

This is exactly what happened in November.

Granted, being an aging widow in a foreign country on a fixed income with a slew of chronic health problems, a language barrier, and a daughter with a failing marriage has given Mrs. P. a lot of woes. She doesn't complain, but the heaviness is particularly apparent around the holidays. She is unappreciated by the adult children and grandchildren she used to serve faithfully, and questioned whether God sees. If He does, why is He silent? Is He indifferent to her suffering, or is He punishing her for sme unknown transgression? No, I pointed out; God does not work that way and we have assurance from His Word that ultimately every wrong will be set right. In the meantime, He asks us to be faithful, and look to Christ as our example - the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) Who was innocent, yet bore our punishment. She agreed, and I gave her a Paul Washer sermon in Bulgarian, "The Meaning of the Cross", to take home and read.

Now, if you're familiar with Paul Washer's preaching, you know that he doesn't exactly mess around. He is hard-hitting with the truth, eschewing the deceptive seeker-sensitive nonsense that many have substituted for the Gospel. This (11-page) message was particularly direct and blunt, dealing with the full horror of sin and the cosmic wrath poured out on the Lamb of God. Washer does not shrink from describing hell for the unrepentant who rely on their own works (un)righteousness or directly oppose God.

Admittedly, after giving Mrs. P. the transcript, the possibility that I might have scared her off did cross my mind a time or two. Although she is a believer, she has never had any doctrinal instruction or sat under any teaching - as an adherent to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the only liturgy she is familiar with consists of incomprehensible chanting in Old Slavonic and ecclesiastical rituals. Does she believe in the Triune God and uphold the Nicene Creed? Absolutely. Did she have a saving faith? I honestly don't know, but I believe so - the Holy Spirit has been very much at work in her.

This morning, there was something different about her - it was the first time in years I have seen her that she didn't look depressed or downcast. Last week, she told me how relieved she was to have been approved for $100 per month in food stamps, but that would not account for the light in her eyes this morning. She told me, "That piece you gave me to read - it opened my eyes! It lifted my spirits so much; thank you! Do you have any more like these? I believe...I like to learn this!"

I just so happened to have a Bulgarian John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life" in my bag, so I gladly gave it to her. I was, in a word, gob-smacked - and very much encouraged to be more bold in sharing the Gospel with my patients. If Paul Washer is lifting somebody's spirits, how much more evidence do we need that the Holy Spirit is at work here? Like Jonathan Edwards and John the Baptist before him, the unregenerate mind will be extremely offended by Washer's radical call to repentance. I told her I was glad she had gotten something out of the sermon and it had not offended her - to which she exclaimed, "How could it offend me? I'm asking you for this information! Please bring me more of these readings!"

Well, wow. Cool beans; it's been a good day. Now I need to find Paul Washer's address so I can write and tell him to keep contending for the faith -- no one knows how God may choose to use his or her work. Through a message he preached, the Gospel reached a lonely immigrant woman in Boston. None of us have any idea how God will use things we've done, said, or written for His glory.


lyn said...

Praise the Lord!!! I share in your enthusiasm and excitement as it is apparent God the Spirit is drawing this seeking soul to Him. I know you know we take no credit for what God does, but, there is such a feeling when something like this happens, it gives you one of those ear to ear smiles and causes you to praise God abundantly!

Blessings to you sister

Marie said...

Exactly Lyn!!

It is so obvious that it's not anything that I'm doing, but that the Holy Spirit is causing her to seek God. It's just as if He's letting me in on the fun; that's how it feels.

The commute back from Boston certainly didn't feel as long today!

Yvonne said...


What a wonderful story! It warmed my heart this morning as I read it. You must be such a blessing to this woman!

I jumped over to your site this morning after reading your comments on DefCon. Don't let Manfred intimidate you. He's been taught from a different perspective then we have, but that doesn't mean we're wrong. The Bema Seat of Christ is exactly as you said!

May the Lord continue to bless you and your ministry!

with my eyes toward Home,

Marie said...

Thank you, Yvonne, for your kind words.

Yeah, actually I'm not too worried about the question (eschatology) that was raised, although I admit I do get confused by all of the different interpretations. After posting, I checked out the judgment question on "gotquestions.org" (which I find to be an excellent site), and got a totally different answer than what Manfred and his uber-reformed peeps were saying.

The thing is, I've gotten to the point in my walk where I don't lose sleep over these questions anymore. Eschatology, Reformed vs. Evangelical, dichotomous vs. trichotomous....interesting things to ponder while on the way to work, but not deal-breakers or sleep-losers. It's so much more important to me to focus on correct soteriology, Christology, sanctification, and evangelism - how the Holy Spirit is working in Mrs. P's life is of far more importance to me that how many judgments believers will face. We will all stand before Christ and give an account for how well we obeyed Him. Period. That's enough for me, and while sound doctrine is extremely important (and why I study), it's much more important to focus on the "weightier matters" (Christ's commands to His followers) than questionable issues.

Thanks again for the encouragement.

Barbara said...

Washer/Heartcry Physical Address:

HeartCry Missionary Society
P.O. Box 67
Florence, AL 35631

(256) 381-7510

From the Heartcry Missionary website.