The Valantines Event UBC hosted on Friday for international students is perhaps the first international event in years in which I have not had a significant responsibility. Usually I am running around crazy and serving through these events—but this time I just got to sit back and take it all in. I actually got to sit at a table and have conversation with a few girls sitting around me. God was sweet to affirm that was exactly where He wanted me, even as I struggle with feeling guilty that I did just sit there and talk—rather then serving in the capacity I typically do.
Going into this event I had been praying that each table host, myself included, would meet one new student they could exchange numbers with and pursue outside of this event. For me, it happened to be the girl sitting beside me, Aniela. It is easy to walk away from these big events with a list of names and phone numbers but neglect to really know these students faces and stories. Aniela and I started talking and she told me she was searching for community. I told her about our LifeGroup through UBC on Sunday night and asked her if she would be interested in coming. She smiled real big and said yes!
She came with me last night and it was a sweet time where she said she felt really welcome. We read through Ephesians 1 and spent a good amount of time talking about the gospel and how it impacts our daily lives, as well as those around us. We prayed and ate and talked some more.
When we got in the car, Aniela shared how she feels really weak in her faith. She told me how she has never felt this distant from God. I started asking her a few questions and before long, she shared part of her story dealing with some relationships that I was able to empathize with her in. I think we always tune in when we know someone is where we are—sometimes the suffering and pain allow us to be vulnerable and to receive truth in a unique way.
Anyhow, during this season of ministry I currently find myself in, a precious and wise woman who empathized with my pain more then I will ever understand shared this story with me. The story was about Abraham and Isaac and this concept of releasing the most precious person to us, releasing our heart, releasing even our questions and pain and dreams to a God who sees us—ultimately to trust the Lord when we don’t yet see the ram. The truth she shared with me that day has helped me to trust Jesus in this season more then I have ever had to trust Him before. It is truth I continue to go back to daily, hourly some days, releasing again and again all of the hurt and things I don’t understand. I decided to share this story with Aniela—and she was very moved and encouraged by my sharing this truth with her.
She said the only time she has been able to seek God recently was to read a page of a little devotional someone had given her. She said the devotional told her the beginning of the same story that I had just shared with her, and that I had shared the second part, the ending of the story. How sweet is that?! How this woman in Texas going through the most unimaginable pain feels led to encourage me through this season in my life and now this same truth passed onto the this student from Panama searching for hope in Christ—can you imagine what sorts of ears this good news might fall upon through Aniela?
This gospel is not just about us—we have to share it and then simply trust Jesus’ ability to draw man to Himself in ways that so exceed anything our finite minds can ask or think. I couldn’t have planned this out if I tried, but God was faithful! I only share all of this to encourage ya’ll in this—the gospel is real hope for real people who are searching for truth and hope. We all have more hurts and heartaches then we could imagine and we need. Jesus. We need to be able to come to the throne and find mercy and grace in our time of need—we need the gospel.
Aniela needs the gospel—and tonight she heard it and God had clearly prepared her heart for some time to receive it. She came to that event Friday night deeply hurting with a big smile on her face. I had no idea—but this God who loves her more then I ever could—He knew! He knows each of us so perfectly and intimately. She came to our LifeGroup tonight searching for some sort of hope from the God she knew could give it, but wasn’t convinced she could have it.
Then of course, in LifeGroup we talked about the gospel being a gift, from a loving God who doesn’t make us earn anything, who is with us, who gives us redemption in Christ. None of this is news to the Lord. He loves this precious daughter so perfectly that He knew her every need and pain and loneliness and doubt, yet, still chose in His rich mercy to reveal to her through bringing her to our Life Group just how intimately He cares for her. I trace His faithfulness back to the banquet, back to last month, back to last night, and on and on and on. He is faithful!
Do we see the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe?! Oh how perfect is His way, even when it makes no sense to us at the time, even when it seems glory could never come out of our ashes. He has a bigger plan to unite all things in Him, set forth in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth!
This time at our LifeGroup, God used Aniela to remind me how in spite of myself, He loves me this way too. Let’s praise Him for just how perfectly He cares for each of us in the way in which we consider and speak the gospel this week. This “world” that needs to hear becomes a whole lot smaller, as we witness Him transform real lives through this gospel, lives like Aniela’s. He is gracious. Continue to pray for her this week, as she is deeply hurting and now beginning to understand His love for her in her pain. We are going to start meeting weekly and studying the Word together, trusting Him to continue to teach us through His Word, to trust His perfect plans for our lives, even in these really painful seasons of brokenness where it is hard to look upon the glory that is coming.
Written by Courtney Osborn