Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Unseen Work of God

When I go to bed I often enjoy reading a bit, and in recent weeks I've been re-reading a book in the Portuguese language called Tempo de Plantar, or, in English, Planting Time.  I've referred to it before, and even translated a paragraph or two a little over two years ago--click here.  The book's author is a Brazilian Lutheran pastor, and the story he writes is about a young pastor by the name of Orlando, a single man, in his first pastoral assignment.
As the book begins Orlando is engaged to be married but at a certain point his fiancée abruptly breaks off the engagement.  Orlando is deeply hurt but his faith in God, his dedication to God's Word and the Holy Spirit at work in him sustain him as he surrenders himself to God and the work God has called him to do. 

The author, Lindolfo Weingartner, teaches us as he unfolds Orlando's story, a story that has Orlando learning how to be a Christian leader and servant of God in the place where he has been called.  That place is a large geographical parish in southern Brazil, and one day, as he is driving home from one of the small country churches that he oversees, he has a terrible accident and is gravely wounded. 

After having been rescued from the scene, he is transferred to a hospital in a larger city where he spends a long time recuperating.  As he is regaining some mobility, his [former] fiancée comes to visit, and she begins to share what happened in her heart that caused her to break with Orlando.  She shares deeply with him and it seems as though there is hope that they will be reunited.
And just at that point, at the bottom of page 136, I looked for page 137.  It was missing.  So was 138.

Uff da.  I'm such a romantic!  It breaks my heart to not be able to read this key part of the story.  Not only does the story seem to be building toward a reunion and an eventual marriage, the fiancée (Silvia) is telling the story of her return to faith in God.  (Silvia's earlier break with Orlando was connected with a crisis of faith in her deepest soul.)

I've read the book before.  I know how it turns out.  But still I want to read the section where they get back together.  I love to see God's Work succeed, even in a piece of fiction.  I was really heartbroken (for a short time) a few days ago when I couldn't read that part of the story again.  I'm a sap.

The same thing is true in real life for me.  Yesterday we got to spend some time with a young person who has been growing in her faith.  She lives a long way from us now and the conversations we were able to have just make me want to know more.  We met a friend of hers yesterday who has been key in her faith journey, and that was really cool, but still I don't want to let go of this story until I see it through.  But I must.  There's no way to accompany this story through all the ups and downs, at least not in this life.

So I must trust the unseen work of God.  I can't see what God is doing in the lives of all the dear ones God has put on my heart.  I can't control them or even know many parts of their stories.  I can bless and pray and stand in awe at what God doing, but often I just won't know.  

A verse that has been coming to me since then is this one... from Isaiah, chapter 49:
9 ... I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
So I pray and I wait.  Someday, when I am with God, in the everlasting Kingdom, I will be able to talk with Him and learn as much as He wants to teach me.  Until then, I will trust that He knows what He is doing... in my life and in the lives of those I love.

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