This morning I received a text-message from my best friend, Antonio (2nd from left); better known as Carlos. To make a long story short, he and I have known each other since the Spring of 1999 and our history of ministering together is as long. We traveled to Brazil on my first International mission trip, he was the best man at my wedding and there is no one friend that I have shared more of my life with. We have often said that we are like David and Jonathan.
As you may have read a few months ago HERE, he was picked up by INS for an immigration violation. His friends and I prayed and collected money for his bail. For the time being, he is legal, but that could end fairly easily and he would be deported.
His text message was simple, are you available to get together today? Are you kidding me, I pretty much would have dropped everything to see him. The good news is that I didn't haven't any plans for the day. He arrived with a friend, and my wife made us coffee.
As much as I enjoy some of my "online" friends - even rely on them, there is no substitute for being with the folks that you love. Flesh can be a good thing!
As we sat across the table from one another, he told us the story of how he went to attend a wedding in California, and help a missionary that he met 17 years ago in Brazil. His friend, like so many other missionaries returning the US, eventually fell on hard times. After the wedding, he was going to move his friend from Arizona to Oklahoma to hopefully start a new chapter in life.
En route, his friend fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended a gasoline tanker truck at a rest area. A fire started, and with only moments to act, the driver pulled my friend Antonio; who was also asleep in the passengers seat, from the burning SUV; along with two suitcases before the explosion. Wow!
I don't know about you, but I have noticed that God has a way of getting our attention, and He often uses trial. Today I looked across the table at my closest friend, one that spent 2 months in prison. God got his attention. And even more wonderful, God used him in the salvations and re-dedications of nearly twenty inmates! He is going to write a testimony about it which I will publish on Fire & Grace - so look for that in the near future.
So, what happens when God gets our attention? If you are like me and my friend Antonio, you stop and evaluate your life, and start looking for places that you can line it up with God's intentions, that's what.
For him, and for me, we've both worked hard to get our lives comfortable, well funded, and filled with life's simple pleasures. Sure, we go to church, give what we can, and help others as part of our everyday lives, but it looks like God wants more. He has a destiny, a call, and a mission for each one of us. It is easy to settle in, acquire a few luxuries, and go to church; letting life slip by.
Then what? Those are the times when God needs to get our attention.
Today as he and Gelson left, the Lord gave me a simple word for each of them. The fire of the Holy Spirit burning in my heart, was overflowing with the things of the Kingdom. How I've missed that. Honestly, I had more intimate communion with God in those 5 minutes then I have had in so long, I can't remember.
We enjoyed a few tears of joy, and a group hug. God is good - especially when he comes to visit unexpectedly.