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Surprised by God

There are occasions – somewhat rare – when we are privileged to experience the presence of God in a profound way. The sanctuary of BFCN became that place for me on an ordinary Thursday evening in early December. It was one of those moments when we are “surprised by God.” I had been asked to host a Memorial Service for A Door of Hope (ADOH), our local Christian crisis pregnancy center, and to speak to those in attendance. One of the representatives from ADOH had met with me to explain the context and purpose of the service: to provide a safe place for mothers who had aborted babies to appropriately mourn their loss, honor their baby’s memory, own their sin,and proclaim and embrace God’s forgiveness. Each of these women had successfully completed an in-depth Bible study on God, sin, and the gospel of God’s grace.
I grew a bit impatient when, fifteen minutes after the service was to begin, all of the participants were still not there. But shortly, everyone arrived – all twelve people, including
three mothers who had collectively aborted eight babies, a couple of fathers, and a support person or two for each. On a white linen-covered table in the front lay eight roses, one for each
unborn baby, with a basket set to the side. One by one, the women came to the table, picked up their respective roses and – after announcing the names of their babies – held them to their breast. Each one then shared deeply personal thoughts about what they had done, framed in a letter written to the little ones they now longed to hold. Tears flowed, including from those of us witnesses. Then they walked to the basket and gently laid their rose(s) inside. At the conclusion of this time of sharing a woman from ADOH gently placed a small, white linen over
the basket, signifying a burial of these precious little ones. Then it was my turn to speak. What a sacred privilege to open the pages of God’s Word and affirm the gracious source of hope, Jesus Christ.
They listened intently…they nodded their heads…and they wiped away tears. The place had literally become, indeed, a sanctuary –a safe place set apart – to meet God. These women owned their sin and mourned their loss, yes…but more than that, they found joy through their grief as they embraced God’s grace that is able to set us free from guilt-laden bondage. I could not help but think of Jesus’ words to the “sinful” woman in Luke 7:47 – “But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  It is not an issue of how great is our sin – all sin is equally great
before a holy God–but it is all about how great is our understanding of our sin… and of God’s great forgiveness. These women are really no different from any one of us. Abortion –
like any sin – holds out the promise of freedom and pleasure. But it over – promises and then underdelivers. And when we realize that, where do we go? There is only one place to flee –
run to the rescuing and restoring grace of Jesus Christ…run to the cross… and the tears of shame and regret can become tears of joy and gratitude.
As I left the sanctuary that evening, alone and quiet, my own heart was filled afresh with joy mingled with sorrow – sorrow over my own sin, and shame that I had again lost sight of my daily desperate need to continually run to the rescuing and restoring grace of Jesus Christ…but filled with joy over a fresh glimpse of God’s lavish grace – experienced in a most unexpected place through most unexpected people. I went to minister to them…but left having them minister to me. I love it when God “catches me by surprise.”
When is the last time YOU’VE been surprised by God? Open your eyes to the glimpses of His grace that surround us every day…and don’t be ashamed to be surprised all over again that
God saved a sinner like you…and me!
About the Author

Christian. Senior Pastor of Bible Fellowship Church of Newark. Husband. Father of 4 daughters. Grandfather.