Jan 9, 2017

Blessed Assurance...

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Dear SHINE friends,

I haven't wanted to post anything unless I had good news to share about Robert. Every time my phone rings, chimes, or buzzes, my heart stops.

Nothing.

I have not heard anything about where Robert may be. I did get some very kind emails about people willing to help, but as of today, no one has seen him.

Of course, my heart is deeply saddened by the fact that the weather in Memphis is absolutely freezing. My weather app now has a "Memphis" setting added and I have to make myself not check the weather every 8 minutes.

It's so blistering cold.

In Georgia, here where I live, the temperature got really cold over the weekend. I decided to bundle up and go for a walk. Hat on my head, scarf on my neck, and two layers of jackets, I was still very cold.

My hands were almost numb. Gloves. I had forgotten gloves.

Robert had not been wearing gloves either.

I looked down at my hands as I was walking, not wanting them to feel the warmth of my pockets.

I wanted to feel the cold icy temperature run through my veins. I wanted to never forget what it was like to feel.

My hands needed the reminder of pain.

Pretty soon, my hands did become numb.

I asked the Lord right then and there, "Father, please let me to never be numb again. Never let me forget the poor. The suffering. The lonely. The destitute. The homeless...."

Tears stung my face as they ran down my frozen cheeks.

I prayed for Robert desperately. Like a mad woman on that walk. Not caring who heard, who saw.

I needed God to tell me that Robert was okay. That our chance meeting was not chance. That Robert was safe. And warm. And loved.

And that he remembered...he had a family now. Looking for him.

As I was spilling my heart out on that sidewalk, a big fat red bird landed on the tree right next to me. The branch bounced up and down from the size of that bird landing not so daintily on that slim branch.

I gasped.

The red bird sat there. Calm. Serene. Peaceful.

The bird was facing me, chest poked out. Looking right through me, it seemed.

I stood there for about a minute gazing at this bird.

Peace suddenly washed over me.

A warm flood of assurance ran through my ice cold body.

I knew.....

Jesus was letting me know that Robert was okay.

What better Hands could Robert be in?

Robert would be okay. Whether I ever saw him again or not.

Blessed assurance.

Those words were on repeat on my lips as I walked back home from my freezing walk and red bird encounter.

December 29th, 2016, our friend Robert committed his life to Jesus Christ.

It was real.

Surreal, really.

Before we left the shelter that night, one more thing was needed. We had prayed for him to receive Christ. But, we had to be sure that Robert was really in our family.

I grabbed Robert by his frail arm and said, "Before we go, there is one more thing. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sins, would you confess with your mouth? Right here. In front of the cloud of witnesses surrounding you."

I could hardly finish my sentence when Robert chimed in excitedly....

"Yes!"

And he did confess. Every last word.

....if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

The same rush of peace I felt when I heart those words come from Robert's mouth, was the same peace that rushed through me looking at that red bird.

Blessed Assurance.

Sitting in church this past Sunday felt different. Something just seemed sweeter.

Maybe it was because my heart had been so moved by Robert...and the depth of Jesus' love for him.

To know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus never, ever stops looking for us. Jesus was pursuing Robert....and would continue to all of his days.

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. Psalm 139:7-8

I needed to know that, to remember that. To sear the memory to my heart like a hot branding iron.

The band at church began singing, "Blessed Assurance".

I broke down. You know the kind of breaking down when your hubby nudges you worriedly [and probably a little embarrassed] and says, "Uh, are you ok?"

Blessed assurance. Yes. That's what it is.

Surely, it was not by chance that song was playing. Surely, God was reminding me of His love for Robert. Of His love for me. Of His love for you.

At 3:00 pm that same Sunday, I attended our local YogaFaith class. As we were warming up, stretching, and doing our deep breathing...

I hear the familiar tune, again.

"Blessed Assurance."

It was streaming through the phone of my YogaFaith teacher [and friend], Melissa.

Oh, y'all.

Jesus is everywhere,

He is with the poor.

The destitute.

The sick.

The healthy.

The rich.

The well-off.

The broken.

The lonely.

The forgotten.

Jesus is no respecter of persons.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism"
Acts 10:34

He loves us all.

He pursues us all.

Robert has a new story. Robert has a new song.

And so do we.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. 

 
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.


Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.




looking for more red birds,

jill