Thursday, September 9, 2010

Did I Really Sign Up for This?

Yesterday I had my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Workshop. This is to kick off the new year of study. Yesterday's was particularly exciting because we begin a brand new study of Isaiah this year. It's never been done before by the BSF organization. Along with the new study comes some new guidelines and procedures. It's all very encouraging and thrilling. (I think I also love each new year because I'm truly a geek at heart and love all the office supplies that come with studying the Word! I always stock up on Sharpies, Post-Its, highlighters, etc. for the year.) Anyways, during our Workshop the leaders had to answer what we wanted God to do for us, through us, and in us this year as we study Isaiah. Well, since everything had been so new all day my mind automatically went to Isaiah 43:18-19:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

I want God to do a new thing in me! Everything else is new....Esther Grace has started showing her personality and WOW! She's a new thing! I'm going to have to parent differently with her and learn new things. Jonah's a new pre-schooler now. I want a new adventure with God, a new journey. I want excitement, thrill, a new revelation, a fresh anointing. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12) Little did I know what would confront me when I got home.

I was putting Jonah down for a nap when Bear came in from work.
"I brought a guest home."
By the way he said it, I just knew some huge snake or possum from the side of the road was waiting for me in the foyer.
"Is it a what or a who?" I asked.
He just grinned and led me through the hallway to a small statured man who was wearing glasses and standing in the middle of my living room.
"This is Jörg." (The best way we could ever pronounce it was George but that wasn't even it. It sounds kind of like Yurg.)

Apparently, my husband had picked up this man from the side of the road in downtown Atlanta. Jörg had flown into Atlanta on Monday and was backpacking through America for the next 3 months. No plan. No itinerary. Just him, a bicycle, and a backpack. My husband's dream. He had been standing on the side of the highway with his road map trying to decide where to go when a large truck rushed past him. The wind ripped his map out of his hands and into the traffic. The next person that talked to him was Bear Oh. And he would be staying with us for the night. WHAT?????!!!!!!

I panicked in my head. God, this is not a new thing. This is a crazy thing. This isn't an adventure, it's insanity. Didn't Elizabeth Smart get kidnapped by a homeless man that her dad employed? All these thoughts raced through my head as I extended my hand, smiled, and graciously said, "Hi. I'm Kristen."

I got to talk with Jörg all throughout the evening. He explained to me that his mother is a fan of "How you say, Old American Criminals." Huh?
"Like Kojak," he said. Gotcha.
That's how he improved his English. He bought her a set of DVD's for her birthday. He would watch them in English and then they would watch them together in German at night. I told him my favorite was Matlock. His mother is also a huge fan of "Gone with the Wind". Who's not? He said that he called her as soon as he got to Atlanta to tell her how disappointed he was.
"It's all gone. Nothing is left of the Old South," he sadly stated.
I told him of Madison and the legend of how Sherman left it intact on his march to the sea because of a lover who lived there. His eyes brightened as I explained that it was only about a 30 minute drive from our house. He said that he had read a lot on the 'Old South' before he left home and did desire to visit Savannah on his trip. Funny, I thought. We have several things in common. He shared pictures of his two daughters, 21 and 18, with us and laughed at our two little ones running around. He seemed very nice. Of course, I'm sure Ted Bundy did too.

The more he talked about his family, God began to do a work in my heart. I started to see him the way God sees him. He's just like me. He said that his 3 month journey in America was a spiritual one. He was looking for peace. He believes in God and says he obeys the 10 Commandments but doesn't believe in Jesus. 

Okay, God. So I'm in sheer panic mode on the inside but if my husband thinks this is a Divine appointment, I'm supposed to submit, right? I mean, that was in the vows somewhere I think. But I'm pretty sure it didn't include random strangers in our home. That part was definitely not in the vows. You know what echoed through my mind right then?  "The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40) That was mixed in with a little of Hebrews 13:1-2, "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." What else could I do?

So we all went to church together. Guess what the message was about? Isaiah 43:18-19 I'm not even kidding you. It was 80's Night for the youth, which I'm sure confused the heck out of Jörg. I tried to explain to him that we don't normally dress that way but I think something got lost in translation. He just nodded politely but I think this is the point when he started to think that he had been hijacked by serial killers. Especially when one of the boys walked in wearing a full fledged woman's leotard and started doing lunges down the aisle. The whole gist of the night was that everyone looked pretty silly dressed like the past and when we go back to our old ways of life after we accept Christ, we look pretty foolish. I mean, the whole point of this Christian life is to move forward.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

You see, Jörg's past life was filled with sadness and despair. He lost his job working with Volkswagen when the financial crisis hit Germany and the banks refused to loan people money for new cars. He lost his house when he had no income to pay the mortgage. He lost his wife when everything was gone and she desired something more. Now he desires something more out of life, some could say a new thing, and has come here to America to find it. Jesus is it.

I'd like to say that he prayed to receive Christ right then and there. Honestly, I don't even know if he understood a single word. I do know that I prayed for him then and all through the night- every time I woke up to the sounds of what I thought was someone prowling around our house stealing every valuable we own. I wish I could tell you that I was victoriously bold and proclaimed Christ with every word I spoke. The truth is I put the kids in their jammies, put them in our bed, locked our bedroom door, and made Bear sleep on the couch to make sure our guest stayed put all night long. I completely fumbled through the whole thing. Maybe next time I will be more courageous. What am I saying? Next time?

This morning Bear took Jörg to Madison after a shower, a big breakfast, and a good night's sleep.
"For the record," I said as I passed Bear in the kitchen, "this doesn't happen again."
After about 5 minutes, he said,
"For the record, I heard you. If it really makes you that uncomfortable, it won't happen again."

For the record, I hope God heard that too.

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