School started last week. [Hip. Hip. Hooray.]
And every since Monday morning, on the first day of school, I've had this verse on the tip of my tongue.
Not only has it been on the tip of my tongue but I've heard it over and over and over again several times since last Monday.
There are no coincidences with God.
It isn't about luck.
Every single encounter is illustrated by Jesus.
At our Back to School [Hip. Hip. Hooray. Again.] faculty meeting on Monday, August 17 our staff received the very sad news of a colleague, battling cancer, possibly facing his last hours here on Earth. It was suggested by someone that we meet, as a staff, at Hospice to pray over this man and his family.
Several folks carpooled over. The group I was riding with pulled in to find folks waiting outside of Hospice. Before we knew it, a rather large group of had gathered in the hot sun to pray for this family just outside of his room in the courtyard.
I was not at all prepared for this encounter. Not in the least.
When his wife opened the door to the courtyard and saw the large group gathered, she began to cry. Her pain and anguish were so overwhelming and heartbreaking that I found myself struggling to breathe. It was a moment of just raw emotion and I think everyone felt the same way: immense sadness at being able to do absolutely nothing for this women.
But, just as God is always faithful and on time, His blessings and promises spilled forth from co-workers and friends.
No one could not take away the cancer that ravaged her husband's body.
But, just as Proverbs 27:17 states so beautifully, the iron sharpening began.
The empty, heavy, grief-filled air that hung over that courtyard at Hospice began to be filled with words of mercy and grace and love....so much love. [It wasn't that I didn't already know that these people, that I've worked with for 7 years now, were not loving, giving folks. This wasn't the first time I'd witnessed their acts of love and kindness. There have been many.] There is nothing more powerful than circle full of believers that are willing to cry out to God as they stand in the gap for a friend. [As if this were not awesome enough, we found out later that his sister was inside with him while were were there. She was unaware, as was he, that were just outside praying for him. He told her, during this time that he could feel hands on his body yet he knew no one else was in the room. Don't tell me that God doesn't hear the prayers of His people!]
Iron sharpens iron.
Our colleague and friend closed his eyes here on Earth this past Wednesday morning. What an amazing sight that must have been when he opened them at the feet of Jesus.
I'm not sure that anyone is particularly fond of funerals. Yet, as I drove home Saturday, I was thinking how blessed I felt to have attended such a precious service. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to get to know him as well as many of the folks at work. [In fact, one time at the beginning of last school year, he and I joked, "introducing" ourself to the other after not crossing paths at all until two weeks into school. That happens way too much when there are two different buildings on two totally different schedules.]
So many folks shared neat stories...
About his life outside of school.
About his commitment to his family.
About his wit and humor.
About his desire to walk closer to God.
We learned, as he laid in Hospice, knowing his Earthy time was nearly over, that he was reminding those around him to seek a relationship with Jesus.
Iron sharpens iron.