I posted this picture on Facebook last summer. I had gone to the store while at work and was taken aback by the awesomeness of cold Bustelo in a can. The world had to know. Well, maybe they already did, but I knew others would surely rejoice with me. I couldn't be the only one that would appreciate it! A few people commented things here and there, including an old friend of mine, Rob, who I knew from years ago. (As in the 90s!). Anything coffee related for us
addicts connoisseurs draws an instantaneous bond and brings people out the woodwork. One of the many blessings of the bean. Well, in this case, it would be a blessing on another level as well...
Rob inquired where he could find some of these little cans of goodness. I found them at the store down the block from my church, where I was working at the time. I knew he lived in Brooklyn but I didn’t realize just how close it was to Lighthouse. It turned out that he lived much closer than I thought. Now, I hadn’t been in contact with Rob outside of Facebook for many years. I knew he was married with a family but it had been awhile since we’d really spoken. When it occurred to me how close in proximity they all lived, I immediately wanted to invite him and his family to church. But I wrestled with whether or not I should. It wasn’t a sense of fear or intimidation. I just didn’t feel comfortable sending him a private message because I had never met his wife and I wanted to be respectful of her. And we since He and I really didn’t have a regular Facebook conversation going on, I didn’t feel like it was something to drop on his wall outta nowhere. As much as I wanted to, I just felt to leave it alone.
So I prayed and asked God to draw Rob and his family to Lighthouse. I didn’t know anything about them all (except that they had really nice wedding pictures) but I had this sense that they would be blessed there. I prayed and left it with the Lord. Occasionally when I saw a picture or activity on Rob’s Facebook page, I would say a little prayer again. Draw them, Lord.
A few months later, while I was still working at the church, I came across a registration form for small groups. I helped out with the administrative component of the small groups at the time and if I remember correctly, this particular form came in just after the deadline. I looked down at the name. It was Rob’s wife. I was sure of it. Same name as the bride in the awesome wedding pictures. Same neighborhood as Rob’s. It had to be her. Immediately, I remembered my prayers from a few months earlier.
A few days later, the connection was made. At the time, small group messages came from my email address and when the information was sent out, my name was recognized and she learned that I was an old friend of Rob’s. I met Melissa a few days later. I was so glad to meet her. (She had no idea how glad). She got plugged into a great small group in the area. Unbeknownst to me, she’d been placed in the same group as her best friend, who signed up for the first time. The Holy Spirit was orchestrating it all. Shortly after that, Melissa contacted me and said she and her friend had some questions and wondered if we could get together. Of course! She suggested meeting at Starbucks. I don’t think I ever told her this, but I’d just started the Daniel Fast and was in the midst of major caffeine withdrawals. Talk about temptation! But I didn’t care; I would’ve gone anywhere to meet up. God was so in the mix. So I walked into Starbucks, grabbed a bottle of water and a banana, and waited. When the girls arrived, we had a great conversation. I loved their honesty, their questions, their comments. It was a divine appointment. That night, after our great talk, I rejoiced the whole way home. I could’ve done cartwheels. (It’s a good thing I didn’t try, though).
Over the course of the next few months, Melissa began to grow like crazy. The change was evident. It was like she was on some spiritual steroids. A few weeks after the first session, Melissa had a powerful breakthrough in her small group. She began to experience God’s love and healing. Her heart was softened. She attended a new believers’ class. Her kids started coming to church. Rob started coming to church. I used to look around on Sundays and wonder if I’d see them. Now I don’t have to wonder anymore because they’re a part of our church family.
Even as I write this, tears fill my eyes. God is so good and His love for His children is so great. He will use anything and anyone to reach out to His children, even a picture of coffee on Facebook. I boast in the Lord for HE has done these amazing things. He hears and answers our prayers. He collects our tears. He knows what we need even when we don’t know.
But wait … there’s more!
This past Sunday – Resurrection Sunday – our church had a special Baptism service. The theme was “I Won’t Go Back!” and over 40 people took a step of faith to publicly declare their faith in Christ Jesus and say that they won’t go back to their old life. Among that group of people was sweet Melissa, with the biggest smile on her face. She shines! It was a joy to be able to celebrate all that God has done in her life. She is a true bona fide miracle who has been radically transformed by the love of Jesus. And as awesome as the journey has been so far, I know this is just the beginning of the great and mighty plans that God has for Melissa and her family. The best is yet to come.
I love you, sister!