“I can’t believe I didn’t know these things,” he said as he quickly brushed away the tears that came down, a little shy of the fact that he was crying. “I’ve heard of God my whole life, I prayed five times a day, but I didn’t know to Who…”
We sat, legs crisscrossed in that circle, tables low and bibles open. The walls still smelled like cheap paint, even after months of opening the windows and airing out the room. It was February, and while neighboring countries battled freezing temperatures, the people of Tajikistan thanked God for a sparing winter. The small republic still didn’t have central heating. Portable electric heaters warmed up bedrooms while doors to bigger and colder rooms were shut to preserve heat in needed areas.
But the little heater in the center of the room wasn’t the only source of warmth. I looked around at their faces. They had all recently come to the saving knowledge. They wore their hearts on their sleeves as they huddled in that circle, radiating something that was much bigger than any heater could generate. Eyes widened and questions flowed as we dug deeper into the Word, marveling at the treasures it held.
The cheap paint and cold walls didn’t stop the atmosphere of worship that filled the room. The air was thick with hearts kneeled before Him, open to learning and understanding and desiring more truth. We walked through the hallway of faith, heroes of then that shined brighter now. We spoke of Moses and got to know Abraham better, and introduced them to the others whose names made it to Hebrews 11. “I’m thankful for meeting brother Enoch today. I learned so much from the short notes of his life”, he said, and I sat with no words in my mouth because I’d never even related to Enoch as a brother.
We talked about His character. It was all new to them, grace and mercy and love and the countless other traits our Father possesses. Every verse we opened and read generated comments and discussion and awe. Wonder.
He sat there, trying to fight the tears that threatened to stream down his cheeks. He held them back for a bit, but finally gave up. And we looked at Christ and read about Him and prayed to Him, and he let the tears flow freely, tears of worship and admiration. Tears that spoke louder than words as he let his heart be molded and softened and touched by the Word.
But he wasn’t the only one touched. He didn’t even know how much his tears affected me.
I sat there, like the older brother that was always in the Father’s house. The Father shared everything with me. I spent all of my days with Him.
But I wasn’t even half as thankful for all I had as this young man was, who wasn’t ashamed of his tears as he took in what the Father offered.
I don’t remember the last time I cried in appreciation and wonder of the One who left everything, came down and served people like me. The One who died in my place. And the One who rose again, and today offers me a life filled with true meaning.
When He was here, Jesus spoke a lot to church people. To the people that spent all of their days in the temple and knew all the rules and all the right ways to do things. And the parable of the prodigal son, or, better yet, the parable of the love of the Father, was directed to them. To me.
“Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I may celebrate with my friends…
Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours…”
The promise of the Father is as true then as it is now. And sometimes, He uses His children from the other side of the world that live in tough, dark places to remind me of that.
That’s the character of my Father. That is Love.