Last week I posted a testimony about a guy named Jose. We are so encouraged by the quantity of people that read the story, shared the story, told us their thoughts, and committed themselves in prayer for this young man. You guys are amazing.
To keep it real, I never really thought that I might do a play by play of Jose and what God might do with him and his family. I simply wanted to share a testimony of how God met me where I was at in life; Jose just happened to be one of the real-life main characters in the story.
You see, to this day, whenever I share a story, I always get a little worried about telling the internet world about what God is doing with a certain person. I always worry that I will share their story and then they friend me on Facebook.
I tend to shy away from that awkwardness. Especially because my hope is we will grow to be way more than just Facebook friends.
Yet, as I have processed all of your responses, I realized that I have dangled the testimony carrot. You guys want to know what has happened since I last wrote the update. Many people have made it clear that they want to know what has happened. They want to see God do something else.
Well, I wish I could report that I met with him and his wife on Sunday. I wish I could report that we had the most amazing conversation ever in the history of mankind. (I prayed that we would, but maybe not in those exact words.)
But I can’t.
They weren’t at home like they said they would be. I tried calling them as Ronald and I stood at their door. I texted too. I even just tried calling them- the phone is off. Nothing.
That is my report. Nothing.
But please, keep reading. The story doesn’t stop there.
As is often the case with spiritual mountaintops, there are also very low valleys.
Welcome to the valley.
God reminded me of this all week in preparation for my visit. For example:
I watched a short video of a Pastor giving his testimony. He talked about the short, nerdy white kid that would constantly and persistently pursue him on the basketball court; just so the now Pastor might hear the Gospel.
Persistence. Patience. Trusting that Perfect Love will always win.
I read in 1 Samuel about David walking into a valley, surrounded by two mountains filled with soldiers. There stood Goliath, in the morning sun, at probably just the right angle for him and the mountain of the Philistine army to cast quite a long shadow. Yet David confidently walked to a brook and picked up some stones. We know the rest. The shadows were still there in that valley, but a giant no longer stood.
Over and over again God reminded, before my visit, that discipleship is a process. He reminded me that it is a process of leveling out the mountains and the deep valleys.
He showed me that discipleship is holding their hands in the mountaintop experiences where very often we might feel as though we can barely breath because of His thick, tangible presence. He showed me that discipleship is spurring ourselves forward in the dark valleys where we become so fearful to breath lest some giant in the shadows might hear us, and do us harm.
God lovingly showed me that discipleship is all about helping people to see that He is not only in mountain and the valleys, but He is also in the green pasture, ready to plant us in solid ground, water us, grow us, prune us, and help us to bear fruit.
To do all of that takes time. His perfect time.
So, as Ronald and I walked to Jose’s house and waited, we prayed. As we walked the beach where I first met Jose, we talked about life. As we walked home to prepare for a meeting, we drank a cold soda together. We lived our lives together, in the “loss,” as well as in the triumph.
It was then, in that moment of life with Ronald that I think I realized the date. It was March 10th.
Thirteen years ago to the day I was admitted into a long-term drug treatment center. Eight years ago to the day I became engaged to Amanda. Five or six years to the day I asked God to speak through me in my first official “sermon.”
Just because I didn’t see Jose, didn’t mean God decided to stop talking to me. In fact, I think his voice was even louder.