I expected bare feet at Saturday morning church gatherings in South Asia.
Worship services meant leaving my shoes outside, sitting in the floor on the ladies side of church, a chance to practice language with friends, getting out my Bible and hymnal in a sanskrit based language. This was my new routine. Participating in a community I loved. At this point I’d been doing it for around three months.
A small room for nursing mothers in the back doubled as the sound system area. I would be using that room in a few months. I was expecting our daughter, but didn’t know yet. I assumed I had a stomach bug or one of the typical bacterial infections it’s easy for new foreigners to get. I would find out about the baby after one week when the volunteer team from the States left.
The worship music finished and a guest speaker from the USA began sharing from God’s word through a translator.
I didn’t expect a man with blood running down the side of his face to rush into the building. But that happened.
He didn’t stop running until he reached the translator on the platform.
His church was close by. A small bomb had exploded moments earlier, killing at least one and injuring others. He rushed to our building immediately to warn us. The police would arrive soon with dogs to check for more bombs because a threat had been issued to plant them in many churches. Everything and everyone would be searched. Until the police arrived we were to remain still.
To be still.
To silently wait.
With a bomb threat. When an explosion had just happened down the street and someone was dead.
Thus began a very interesting and unexpected five to ten minutes in my life.
Nowhere I could go. Nothing I could do to change my present circumstances.
How should I be? What should I do?
The speaker opened his Bible to a new Scripture and read:
“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)
The Books of First and Second Thessalonians were written by Paul to the believers in Thessalonica who had withstood persecution from those who opposed the gospel. I’m thankful the speaker knew God’s word well. What well chosen words of encouragement during intense moments of waiting for police to come and evacuate us.
What were those moments of waiting to either hear an explosion or be evacuated like for me?
Unusually peaceful. Different than expected.
During childhood Sunday School classes I remember teachers presenting hypothetical questions:
“What would you do if your life was threatened for the gospel?”
“What if someone made you choose between God and your safety?”
“What would you do if you had to choose whether to die for your faith?”
Somehow as children we all just assumed these questions would forever be hypothetical in our lives. (Unless some futuristic, anti-religion brainwashing, weird sci-fi movie stuff started happening in the USA.) These were scary questions to think about. Christian producers certainly loved making dramatic movies and music videos about such topics, but even then we figured we were safe. (Since those long ago days of my childhood some truly heartbreaking things actually have happened in the USA.)
I had known situations like this were a possibility since the day I first began learning about believers outside my corner of the world. Especially when I first knew that God was directing me to cross cultural work.
Suddenly I found myself in a place where those hypotheticals could become reality.
I realized how little control I actually had over my own life. And I experienced rest. Peace.
I knew that no matter what happened, I had followed Jesus up to that point. Even with many mistakes, I was exactly where I was supposed to be in that moment.
I’m sure this is not the normal response when one hears “possible bomb” announced by a bleeding man who has just run into the building. So I know what I experienced on this day was a work of God’s grace in me.
I can’t explain what that intensity of rest feels like, but maybe you’ve experienced it. Unexpected Moments. Moments where you’re not surrendering control, but realizing you never had it in the first place. Knowing the blessing of willingly giving your life to the Lord and experiencing true inner peace that surpasses human comprehension. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in.
This can happen in extreme circumstances. Or it can happen in the normal moments of life whenever I realize Who is really in control, willingly submit to His design for me (whether it feels good or not), and choose obedience and trust.
Uncomfortable words for me to type tonight as Daniel and I are waiting to see what God has for our family in the next two weeks. Will this upcoming deadline be met or will we have to wait some more? Continue learning to thrive in transition?
We are certainly praying and working toward this goal, but in our minds?
We have to be still.
To silently wait.
Trust God with our whole hearts and continue obeying in the meantime. With an unpredictable two weeks ahead of us.
The day of the possible bomb was way more exciting, but only in my view. It matters just as much that I trust Him now as it did on that day. Willingly submitting to His design for me even when it doesn’t feel good.
But the day of the possible bomb serves as a significant reminder that I don’t know how long my life will be. Acknowledging God in my current circumstances is the best choice I can make right now.
Questions I wish I would have been asked in childhood Sunday School classes instead of the “Would you die for Jesus” questions:
“Would you choose Him in everyday moments when you’d rather do something else?”
“Would you choose Him in the seemingly mundane routines of your week, no matter where you live or what your job is? Live with integrity for His glory regardless if anyone is watching?”
“Would you realize that every single moment is made for worshipping Him whether you are folding laundry or leading an important meeting?”
“Do you understand that people matter and that every interaction with them, no matter your life situation, is ministry?”
The remaining moments in my life are unknown, but that’s all I have. May God give me the desire to acknowledge Him in each one and grace to confess my sin and continue when I fail.
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
https://youtu.be/3jCnAAeEJSQ A song that reminds me God owns all my moments.
This is a good article on trusting God to be in control. (Although we might not always be “reasonably happy” as the prayer at the end mentions)