Written by Mike Verkaik, Oceans US Ambassador and Outreach Coordinator
Do you know this song by Matt Redman?
From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me, yes Your grace finds me
Sitting at the kitchen table, reflecting on the people I had met and the conversations I recently had at the Wooden Shoe, the song Your Grace Finds Me began to play on the radio. While listening to the repetition of the lines above, I reflected on the lesson Abba Father had taught me through a current resident, *Brenda.
As I reflected I realized that God had initiated this divine appointment that was about to unfold with Brenda a week earlier via a phone call from a volunteer. This volunteer alerted me to how the Holy Spirit led two couples to donate money towards the rent of someone who might have lost their job due to the coronavirus.
As our team prepared to leave for the motel that Tuesday night, I was praying for a divine appointment with the motel owner and yes God provided this encounter. As we were getting ready to hand out the food prepared for the individuals and families living in the Wooden Shoe, I broke away from the group to ask the owner if any residents were falling behind in their rent. With a disgusted look he said, “Yes, I am kicking *Brenda out tonight. She is two weeks behind in her rent. She has lied to me, forged several notes from her employer, and I have had enough. If you would be willing to give her some assistance, it would help a lot?” I told him we would like to help.
After walking through the vending room to the back of the motel, I met Brenda for the first time. She was standing in the parking lot crying. Through the sniffles and tears she shared her story. The pandemic had closed the restaurant she worked at for the past 6 years; she had no money and nowhere to go. She went on to say, “I prayed to God, but I don’t think He hears me.”
As I listened to her last words the Holy Spirit gave me this response, “Brenda, not only did your Father hear you, He put you on someone’s heart before you even prayed your prayer. Last week, your Father prompted a person to call me, someone that does not even know you. That is how much your Father loves you.”
Upon leaving the motel, I settled with the owner and went back to *Brenda’s room with a receipt. As I explained how her back rent and the upcoming weeks rent were paid for, she burst out in tears again and responded, “Oh grace, grace, so much grace. Thank you, so much grace!”
In Galatians, Paul felt that same kind of grace when he wrote: “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.,”(Galatians 2:4, 5 –NIV).
*Brenda has since moved out of the motel after receiving her stimulus check. She is living in a better place, and I am happy for her. Last week she texted saying, “ Thank you again for your help. God is good and He was there. I am hoping to pay it forward in the very near future”
Grace found *Brenda that night and she was overwhelmed by His love and mercy for her in that moment. Made me think about my response to Easter? Am I still living in the memory of the grace of resurrection day which has made me alive with Christ? How about you?
Yes, you read the title right. I’m blessed to say I have “4” living dad’s who in the past few months have spoken wisdom into my soul during this season of turbulent seas. Each of them have shared 4 truths that can transform any circumstance, no mater how dark, into a triumphal victory.
Last week I got a Face Time call from my Dad, Ray. My dad is not much into technology so to see an incoming call was a bit shocking. But as we talked I was relieved and blessed that all was ok and hearing what was on his heart from 10,000 miles away. He shared how he was awoken from a vivid dream where the LORD was communicating to him the absolute necessity for prayer to fight the pandemic plaguing the globe. How prayer must be the first priority for all His people. As he asked God what he could do, he sensed the LORD saying call 10 people and urge them to pray fervently over the peril we are facing. And to challenge them to call 10 more people to pray and so on so that we can join a prayer movement around the world to fight the battle in the heavenly realm.
My dad’s passion for intercession was contagious and so I contacted 10 people that day with his challenge. His challenged reminded me that prayer is our greatest act of faith, declaring we are not in control but must turn to the Sovereign Savior who has power over all creation.
Back in February my step dad Bill and my mom were out in South Africa for the dedication of Oceans Retreat Center. Bill was extremely sick and weak as he was battling pneumonia during his time here. But when you would walk into their room you would often find him singing worship songs he downloaded from his I-Pad. One of the songs he played over and over again was God of the Mountains – the chorus states:
“For the God of the mountain is still God in the valley when thing go wrong, He will make them right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God of the night!“
Bill modeled our need to praise no matter what. And it was that power of praise that got him out of bed to give a powerful message at our dedication service he titled the “Sovereign of the Sea.” It was truly a prophetic word as he called us to look to the Jesus who is in the boat with us in the midst of life’s storms. The One who has the power to shout out “Peace be Still!” Praise redirects our attention to the Almighty Sovereign of the Sea who will flood our life with His perfect peace.
My father-in-law, Ray loves life and people. So Patty were wondering how he would be doing in this time of self-isolation. But as we talked on the phone last week he was still full of joy and enthusiasm. He shared with us how even though he can’t get out to see people he felt called by the LORD to write letters of encouragement each week to people God put on his heart.
His looking outward instead of inward was a great challenge as well. In a world full of fear and negativity how love can overcome those emotions through giving and receiving words of encouragement. We have been recreated in Christ to be conduits of His love and grace to a broken and hurting world. Just think of the impact we could have on are world by daily giving others words of affirmation and encouragement.
By now you have probably figured out who my 4th living Dad is –Abba Father. The lessons He is daily teaching me is to rest in His endless supply of love. Being still is not always easy because inner voices stuffed away through busyness and other forms of distraction all of a sudden become louder when we practice the discipline of silence. Sins that lurk in the dark places of our soul become uncovered. Pain we have sought to avoid pound louder. Yet, these voices and the pain are teachers of the Holy Spirit and point to our need for the gift of love given to us in Jesus.
I truly believe the Father is using this particular season to bring us back to the Cross. To bring those sins, fears, and strongholds of the enemy to the cursed Tree of Calvary. At the cross we can honestly confess our sin and our weakness and once again give them to Jesus. We can rest in His mighty work. We can receive the gift of the Father’s love. Surrendering our lives anew and waiting for His power to be made perfect in our weakness through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So His challenge is to rest in Christ’s finished work and wait in great hope for the Holy Spirit to do His mighty work within us making us more and more into the image of His Son Jesus.
I praise God for the lessons of my 4 living Dad’s during this historic season. May we all be challenged to pray in faith to our Sovereign Savior who is the miracle worker, to praise and worship in every situation, to be instruments of His love and encouragement to others, and to rest in the perfect love of our Father given through the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I pray you will hear your Father’s voice speaking to you in each of these challenges.