Sunday Services at 10:00am
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Today’s post is adapted from the November 9th, 2010 post.
I grew up going to church; however, God did not truly become real until I was 18, right at the beginning of college, as the result of attending a youth group the summer after my high school graduation. As a new Christian, I was full of young enthusiasm for God, for the Bible, and for Christian fellowship, but also very unsure of who God was and what it meant to know and follow Him.
Three months after becoming a believer, I went on a retreat with Musicon Ministries. Musicon was made up of a group of teens and adult leaders from around Connecticut that would learn a Christian musical and take it on tour throughout the year. As someone who was so new to the faith, I was like a sponge that weekend, and I still remember so many details from that time. I remember Jon, the Musicon leader, sharing from Isaiah 40:9, “You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’” I remember him asking us, “Can you imagine going out on the streets of New Britain (where we were) and declaring enthusiastically “Here is your God!”? What would happen?” I seem to remember that most of the teens said something like, “You’d be shot!”
I remember attending Kensington Baptist Church (now Wellspring Church) that weekend, and hearing Pastor Rick share a story of a New England farmer who had put up a weathervane with the words “God’s love” written on it. One day, the farmer’s cynical neighbor said to him, “Does it say ‘God’s Love’ because God’s love changes with the winds and the seasons?” “No,” the farmer replied. “It’s because no matter where the winds blow, God’s Love is there.” I remember learning that weekend, as a young Christian, that God was a faithful God, a God who was always there for you, who would never leave you or forsake you, no matter what happened in your life.
And I remember staying at the apartment of Mike & Linda Smith with Glen, a friend from UConn. I remember going with Glen to CVS to get a thank you card for our hosts. While we were paying for our card, an old woman came up next to us and made some comment to the clerk about the two of us being such “handsome young men.” “Oh, thank you,” I remember Glen saying. The woman began talking to us about how she would walk around New Britain talking to people, just having conversations with whoever was willing to talk. What a strange lady, I remember thinking, as I inched away from her towards the door. I remember her reaching into her pocketbook to give us something, and pulling out two little tracts. On the outside it read, “The Lord says, ‘I am with you.’” I opened up the tract and read the inside, which was simply the words of Isaiah 43:1-5:
“But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you”
I was floored. I remembered Jon’s words about going out on the streets of New Britain and declaring that Jesus is Lord, and here was this little old grandmother doing exactly that, and she was protected by the Lord. I remembered Pastor Rick’s story about the constancy of God’s love, and I knew God was trying to communicate something to the depths of my heart. I quickly asked the Lord’s forgiveness for my attitude towards this woman, and listened with a joyful heart as she proceeded to tell us story after story of the times she spent walking around, telling people about Jesus. She even told us about someone who tried to rob her at a gas station, and how she had responded, “Why do you want my money? You should work for your own money.” And how God had protected this feisty old woman in her boldness! She told us how she was just trying to follow the Holy Spirit, and even though He always seemed to lead her to uncomfortable places, it always turned out to be a place where the Spirit was working. She told us that although she was poor, and although people did not help her out much, and even though many people thought she was weird, she knew God’s love was always with her, and that this was all that mattered.
Before we left her, she shared two other things that stuck with me. First, she told us a story about how earlier that week, she had been walking down the street when she saw all these books that people were throwing out. She couldn’t understand why people would just throw them away, when they could be used in so many places: libraries, prisons, or just given to needy people. So, she said, she would take the books, bring them home, fix them up, and give them to places where they could be used. When this old woman, dismissed by people but redeemed and used by God, finished that seemingly random story, I swear I heard Jesus whisper “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And then, lastly, she asked us our names, and we asked her what her name was. “Connie,” she replied. “Oh,” Glen replied, “my mother’s name is Connie too.” “What is her full name?” the old woman asked. “Concepcion,” replied Glen. “Oh,” said the woman. “My name is Constance.”
And that was when God’s love pierced through, right to the depth of my heart.
As Webster’s Dictionary so eloquently puts it, Constancy is:
(1) The quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, loyalty, etc.
(3) Steadfastness, fidelity, dependability.
Constancy. What a perfect word to describe the love of God.
The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” I will never know for sure whether Constance was dropped out of heaven precisely for me that evening in New Britain, but I know that God used her to convince my heart that His love for me is unchanging, unwavering, and always Constant.
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