He walked into my office. I’d seen him before. He was interested in taking a class at the college where I work, and I had looked over his records to see if he had everything he needed to start the class in a couple of months. He was back asking more details about the class, how he wanted to better himself, and before I knew it, we were off topic. He was telling me about how he had come to America five years earlier. He and his wife came from the Congo in Africa.
He said he didn’t always understand why he went through hard times, but he understood that everything has a purpose. He spoke with a soft voice, and I saw a quiet confidence in his eyes. He spoke with conviction and resolve.
This man that sat in my office the other day could have been hardened by circumstances. He could have easily lost his faith and rejected God, Christianity, and whatever hope he clung to during those years in the Congo. He told me of seeing dead bodies lying on the ground, chests gaping open, guts hanging out. I couldn’t imagine something like that. I’ve seen things on film and video games, but I cannot comprehend seeing those things in real life and living to tell about it.
I’ve been struggling recently with what God is up to in my life. I wasn’t sure I was where I needed to be and not sure which direction to pursue next. There are a number of options, but I want to choose the best one and go where God is leading me. As I sat listening to this man, I knew. I knew that I was supposed to be sitting in that office listening to this humble man pour out his heart about life and hurt, about pain and suffering, and about hope and love. How can a person love after seeing something like that, I wondered. I think his point was, how can a person NOT love after an experience like that?
“Mr. Will,” he said in his unique accent, “we have to love. I don’t know why everything happens, but I know it is for a purpose. I have to love from here, ” he said, pointing to his heart. “It is because of Christ.”
We may not always understand our circumstance, but once in a while, someone comes along and gives you a little bit (or a lot) of perspective. Indeed, it is because of Christ. I have been reading through Romans and Watchman Nee’s book, The Normal Christian Life (which is his commentary on Romans). In this book, he says that God has a unique purpose for each of our lives. We are either generals or gatekeepers, and we must be satisfied with our position. If God has called us to the position of a gatekeeper, we should not be frustrated that we are not a general. If we are a general, then we must be content with our position and not wish that we were a gatekeeper. The goal is to submit ourselves wholly to Christ and let Him use us as He will and for His specific purpose.
For now, God has me as a gatekeeper, and yet I wish I were a general. However, I cannot add anything to my life by that wish. I can only pray and submit myself to God and be content with where He has me. Someday, my position may change, and I need to be prepared if He so calls. Then again, He may have me as a gatekeeper the rest of my life, and I need to be okay with that too.
One of my aims in life is to love, serve, and encourage others. The other day I was loved and encouraged by a man I barely knew. He talked so naturally about his faith that it lifted my spirit and made my heart soar. God may have him as a gatekeeper now, too, but that day, in my life and in my spiritual journey, he was a general.
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