Over these many years I have come to learn how amazingly surprising God can be when dealing with His children.
I am the pastor of a small Hispanic congregation of the United Methodist Church. As small as we are, we are blessed to be rich in ministry. On the third Saturday of each month men of our community come together for a Menudo breakfast. By the way, according to Wikipedia, Menudo, also known as pancita or mole de panza, is a traditional Mexican soup, made with cow’s stomach in broth with a red chili pepper base. It shares a name with a stew from the Philippines made with pork and pork liver. Hominy, lime, onions, and oregano are used to season the broth. Now, if that doesn’t make you want to visit your local Mexican restaurant, I don’t know what does. But on with my story…
I really wasn’t supposed to go to the breakfast this Saturday since I had a surgical procedure done on me the day before and wasn’t really feeling up to it, but I went anyway. As it turned out, the guest speaker bailed out at the last minute and our church elder looked at me and well I became the guest speaker. The first order of business was for me to pray because I had no idea what I was going to speak (preach) about. Early that morning I got up as I usually try to do and went into God’s word. I read a passage out of the First Epistle of Peter and the words spoke to me of how precious we truly are in God’s sight. That even though we’ve been through and are going through trials now, because of the genuineness of our faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, we may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7.
Considered precious, tested by fire, found to praise honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…all of this and more seemed to be more than enough to speak about. So the men came, gave thanks for their meal and had fellowship. All the while I was prayerfully thinking about this scripture passage in the context of The Xena Project. I shared these thoughts with the men, and as I did, the majority of them nodded their heads in agreement and gave their amens to God’s voice clearly being projected to their hearts. I didn’t fully realize until I was done that the majority of the men served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They were all brothers and God brought all of us together in the fullness of time. But there was a young man there who was a Marine who was home doing hometown recruiter duty. I’m sure the stories he heard from us old war dogs impressed him and we had a brief, but good visit afterwards. I thought about how he was a reflection of our past and the hope for a better future.
Of course, God has done this kind of thing before. During our Monday morning bread ministry when the poor of our community come to our church to receive food, I was giving the morning devotional and couldn’t help speaking about my own testimony and struggle with PTSD. At the conclusion of my sermon, a woman stood up and with tears described how pained she was because her son returned home from war changed. She didn’t know what to do except pray hard for His help in was certainly a desperate situation for her. But it wasn’t just her, but another mother stood up with her and then another. All shared in a bond of sorrow and pain and they all also shared in the hope that God would grant a mighty miracle to enter into their and their children’s lives.
I learned long ago that when these wonderful blessings take place it’s just God doing His mighty works among His people, turning tears into joy, fear into boldness, weakness into strength. And the most marvelous thing about it all, it has nothing to do with our timing but His – in the fullness of His time. Amen?