Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

La paz os dejo, mi paz os doy; yo no os la doy como el mundo la da. No se turbe vuestro corazón, ni tenga miedo. Juan 14:27

She didn’t know it; I didn’t know it, but God used Paz to minister and bring a reassuring touch of peace in a world of confusion and turmoil. Neither of us knew it, but that moment would be the catalyst that would ultimately bring true peace to her world of confusion and turmoil.

It was Sunday morning, March 20, at the San Rafael hospital in Tepic. What started out to be a happy road trip from the Nogales border south to Tepic, accompanied by our favorite Mexican pastors in their newly legalized Toyota pick-up turned into the longest “day” of my life. Over 24 hours had passed since leaving Hermosillo early Saturday morning, and I found myself exhausted, confused and afraid as Kirt was undergoing the first of many futile attempts to counteract further heart damage beyond that which had already been done in the first of several heart attacks. The “tyranny of the urgent” made any attention to eating or sleeping unthinkable. I left his side in intensive care for minutes to check on getting more medication from the hospital pharmacy, and when I returned, I found a large, sparkling-clear, parfait glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice on the meds table next to Kirt. He told me that the lady that works in the cafeteria had brought it to me while I was out. I’ve never tasted a more revitalizing glass of OJ in my life; and its “special delivery” made me all the more aware that I would never be left or forsaken by our Father. I felt compelled to go to the cafeteria and thank the “angel” who had reached out to me, a total stranger. Her name is Paz (Peace, in English). As I was thanking her, Noe and Caty (new believers from the Tepic church) came into the cafeteria looking for me. They were surprised to find me conversing with Caty’s Aunt Paz! I told Paz that I loved her name, and that she had truly lived up to it with the “peace” she had conveyed to me in her unexpected and loving gift. Shortly afterward Kirt and I left in an ambulance for Guadalajara.

A year and a half later, Caty and Noe were finally able to convince Paz to come to the Tepic church for our 15th anniversary celebration. I hadn’t seen Paz since that day, seemingly millions of years ago, March 20. We have been praying faithfully for all of Caty’s family who are extremely immersed in the traditional religion of Mexico and have rejected her for following Christ. Paz has passed through some exceptionally difficult physical, spiritual and emotional experiences during this past year, and they have caused her to search for answers. She identified with the four lost things, the sheep, the coin, the prodigal, and his brother that Pastor McKeown spoke about in his message that Sunday morning. She couldn’t forget his words, “God wants you to know that no matter why you are lost, He loves you. God wants you to know that He will stop at nothing to find you.”

Three weeks later, Caty was on vacation from work, and she determined that THIS vacation would count for something eternal. She prepared a delicious breakfast to which she invited Aunt Paz, Erén (Pastor Martín’s wife), Lorena (Pastor Nacho’s wife) and me. Determined that this breakfast, would not be just about eating, I prepared a short devotional to share entitled, “Peace (Paz) in the Midst of the Storm.” I shared that at times life seems unbearable with physical pain, demanding decisions, financial difficulties, the death of a loved-one, or shattered dreams, but Jesus promises that if we will anchor our hearts to the Rock, we will have peace though we are surrounded by raging winds, roaring waves, and perilous obstacles. The peace that God promises His children, peace that passes human understanding, does not necessarily mean the absence of storms, but calm in their midst. Erén, Lorena, and I assured Paz that she could have that peace if she would accept His gift of forgiveness of her sins. One day before Kirt’s birthday, Paz placed her trust in the Prince of Peace. Kirt is no doubt beside himself with joy as he has a new reward to place at the feet of our Savior! Happy birthday, Kirt! Happy birthday, Paz!