"Yet but for God!"

This past Sunday at church, I met Nancy. She saw our signs and decided to come. Her and I sat over at the picnic tables and talked between services after I had been introduced to her by another woman. She attends another Baptist church, but it relocated to Irvine. She shared easily with me about where she had been - experiences/trials that I most likely will never have to experience, praise the Lord. She told of how her grandmother had taken her to church and she seems to have had a faith that has kept her going all these years. She told me that she had seen hell. And heaven. I didn't dispute her, but listened. She kept repeating, getting more and more passionate, "Yet, but for God!" and describing herself as a walking testimony. I had no doubt she was.

As I sat there and listened to her, I was aware of a desire to just quietly weep (though tears didn't really seem to fit the circumstances, it was an emotion that was welling up regardless). I saw a simple, yet tenacious faith, in the midst of incredible suffering and hardship - especially in comparison to my life of relative ease filled with blessings innumerable. Was this what it feels like to have "a heart like Jesus"? I invited her to sit with our family during the worship service which she did - ill-smelling, noisy & fidgety somewhat, though not disrespectful or disruptive in any way. I was keenly aware that we were standing before the same throne, professing relationship and looking to the same God, coming to the same fountain to drink and I was overwhelmed with God's heart for sinners (including myself) and His ability to save, and comfort, and fill, and satisfy. I pictured Nancy as the "woman at the well" and as the one who anointed Jesus with perfume and dried his feet with her hair, and as the woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter, reminding Him that "even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master's table". I was humbled by her simple, yet tenacious faith . . . "yet but for God!" My heart knew that He was filled with compassion for her and was honored by/through her faith and my heart swelled with compassion as well. I begged God on her behalf to meet her where she was that morning and to give her above and beyond what she could ask or think of Himself.

I have been brought to tears before during the singing portion of our worship time as I see my own sin and again understand all that Christ has accomplished for me and feel the amazing privilege of standing together with the Redeemed before the throne of the Almighty, but the words of the songs that morning took on a whole new meaning as I understood them from where she stood. They were true for me, but she had lived them in ways more vivid than I ever will. After singing some Sovereign Grace songs, we sang "Amazing Grace". She leaned over to me and said, "These are the old songs that I really love". She sang heartily next to me, but without matching any note that the rest of us were singing. It made me smile all the more! Again, what a picture of coming with all she had and laying it at the feet of Jesus . . .

So, struggling Christian, surrounded by God's blessings and held by His promises . . . take courage. Look to God and all He has done for you in Christ and say with the Redeemed, "yet but for God" I'd be lost! Look to Him to find strength to bear up under your trials in this life and say with those who truly know, "yet but for God".

I don't know why she came. Was she sent just for me? I'll never know, but I'm glad she came. Will she come back? Will the Lord use her further to challenge my ability to love outside of my comfort zone and to express the heart of Jesus to someone so incredibly different from me and yet not different much at all in the ways that really matter? I'm glad I had the privilege of talking with her and sitting with her in worship. She changed my thinking. She stirred me up to see what it feels like to love like Jesus. She left in the middle of the last song, but not before dumping a handful of change in my hand and telling me it was "for the children". She then whispered "God bless you" and was gone.

Father, thank you for Nancy. Thank you for crossing our paths. Thank you for the encouragement of her simple faith "yet but for God!" May I not forget . . . .


Joy Rupprecht said…
Wow, it has been so amazing to read about this. As I was sitting in church I wondered about her. I wondered about why she was there, whether or not she already had a faith in God, whether or not she felt separated from us because of the different way she looks...and hoping that the differences between us would not inhibit her (or anyone) from being able to praise God and fellowship with each other. I wanted to talk with her after the service but after she slipped out I figured that opportunity was meant for you. I pray that maybe someday she will come to worship with us again, and maybe more people will be able to be blessed by her simple, but passionate faith.
Barbara said…
I wondered what her story was... It's always a bit of a challenge to love and to see Jesus in someone else who "looks" so different from ourselves. May God bless her with more of Himself.
Karen Bruce said…
Thank you for sharing this, Jan. It brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart. "Yet but for God" so many things in my life would be way different - most important - I would not have come to know Jesus. I've been crying a lot this week. Not because of the circumstances I'm in right now but because I realize that I do not give God enough praise and thanks. My faith wavers. (Not that I don't believe or trust God but I need to trust Him even more.) ~ Praising the Lord for Nancy and praying for her. ~ Karen (in NC)
That's really neat. I love the "Yet but for God..." AMEN, ya know?
I love the new pics of you all & the kids on the side of your blog. They are all getting so grown up!
Hope you are enjoying your fall!

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