This post might end up reading differently than you expected. I’m not going to go into an explanation of TULIP or new birth. There will be little or no exposition of scripture, just a story of Providence.
Brothers and sisters, please pray for Maria.
It’s July 27, 2010, I normally take the bus by 7:40 AM to get to work, but my wife asked if I could take my son to football camp today so she could stay home with the girls and have less running around to do. This morning when I spoke to my son about it, he wasn’t even that interested. It seemed the Wii seemed more exciting, but for some reason, before I left to get the early bus, he changed his mind. I took my son to football, and instead of rushing off to the bus, I stayed to watch him play with the other boys. I finally left…deciding not to take the bus, but rather to drive downtown, I went left instead of right out of the parking lot. As I drove I kept seeing bus stops for a different bus than I usually take. I noticed the Park N Ride was along the side of the road and I decided to stop and take the bus anyway, largely because I write my blogs on the bus now and don’t care to spend the money to park.
My wife and I were on the phone, and the call got cut off. I was sad, but saw it as an opportunity. I pulled out a tract and handed it to the lone woman at the bus stop and sat down the way of the bench from her. She read the tract. I kept looking at my phone to see if I could get re-connected with my wife and realized this lady was ACTUALLY reading the tract. I prayed. I prayed some more.
Suddenly her posture changed, I’m used to this, people rear their shoulders back and hand me tracts back all the time. They appear almost menacingly angry as they do. Sadly, I’m used to this now. But that is not what happened, she slumped over the card and flipped it over and kept reading. I thought I saw her start crying. I waited…wanting to speak so badly but trying to be patient as she read. I decided to pray; I asked my wife for prayer via text. Then she was done reading.
I asker her, “What’s your name?”
“Maria,” was her reply.
“What do you think of the card?”
“That’s deep, I need a new Bible” she said.
I told her to contact my church or me for a bible and noticed she was overcome with emotion. I asked her if she was sure her sins were forgiven and she said no. She said she’s done some really terrible things. It seems there are some people the devil tricks into believing they are so good they don’t need God, and some others his ploy is to allow them to think they are so wicked God cannot or will not help them. I suppose either are forms of pride in the human heart, a self-centered God-averting focus which we all had while enemies of God. But I couldn’t help but have compassion. I bowed my head and asked her if she saw my scar. I explained to her that the scar was from a beating by police during a drunken evening in my past. I related that I had been divorced and there was much pain, pain I had caused in my life. I explained that I, too, had sinned and God was able to find peace today in my heart knowing that I am now in right standing with him.
I asked if she lived around here, and she said yes, over in the apartments right there where that girl was shot. She’s crying out for help: 2 kids, no job, no baby daddy to help, and a third child 13 years old that she hasn’t seen since the baby was 18 months. She admitted to murdering a woman and doing time for it; to drug use and dealing and alluded to prostitution. She still smokes weed once in a while she said. She seemed to know all these things were wrong and that they hurt her. I asked her if she could stand before God and would she realize the judgment would be worse than anything in this world. I told her she could have forgiveness for her sin through Christ’s sacrifice. She asked me how to do that!
So I explained to her that there is no magic prayer or special words; that she needed to talk to God and tell Him she was sorry for her sin against Him and that she wanted and needed the forgiveness that is offered in Christ alone. I emphasized that she must trust that His work is sufficient for her forgiveness and that it is the only provision for her forgiveness. I asked her why she wouldn’t do that right away, what was keeping her from doing it right now, and she said she had to think about it. Then her phone rang.
After her phone call the tone changed. She told me about how she prays everyday for forgiveness…I reminded her that she must go through Christ, that real forgiveness is found there and he will never leave her nor forsake her once this occurs. She let me know that she believes in God and trusts him. I offered a smile and repeated that if not through Christ, she has no access to God.
I was a little sad that there wasn’t an immediate conversion. There was a point I thought she was going to call out to Jesus. But she seemed to understand, and I planted the seed that is the gospel. I cannot imagine an explanation for today’s events by a professing Christian that isn’t absolutely providential. The Lord’s love for me and for Maria is obvious to me by this one experience. I’m not even talking about regeneration and depravity or election or any number of items that are argued in sovereignty of God discussions. I could; that’s just not what this post was about.
So why did Nick have football today? Why did I take him and not my wife? Why did I stay as long as I did? What force was behind my decision to go left instead of right, and then take the bus anyway after planning to drive downtown? How did I get tracts in my pants pocket where I never carry tracts? Whose will was at work when I remained quiet while Maria read or listened attentively while she recounted her life? The list could go on, of course.
I just wanted to share experientially that God’s providential care, that His amazing work in calling sinners to Himself was seen today by me. I want people to see His glory and Praise Him, for those things we hear labeled coincidences or random chance. I know that if Maria becomes a follower of Christ, she will too. I don’t propose that my brief experience today is a proof of God’s Providence. If you are not already inclined to believe it exists, my story won’t be compelling. But if you are bent toward the Sovereign God, I hope this story refreshed you and you will start to see more of His hand in your own life and find the peace and comfort that comes from truly resting in Him.