Monday, May 18, 2009

The bewildered ones

Today’s Reading: Acts 2:5-6 (NIV)

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Good morning!

My mother told me that when the circuit-riding preacher came to town, folks traveled for miles and miles to see and hear him speak. Many came out of simple curiosity, while others were drawn through a great sense of anticipation they would hear God’s Word read and proclaimed. Everyone came hungry and no one was turned away from the table. There was plenty of food, fellowship and fun. Folks would arrive to church, carrying Sunday dinner with them. The women would disappear in the pine grove just behind the church building and the cemetery. They would place two by four slats on top of wooden saw horses and cover the makeshift table with pieces of cloth. This was fast food at its very best! There were lots of delectable choices on the buffet table from which to choose. Aunt Mary’s shrimp gumbo was a huge hit. Everyone knew that cousin Bertha made the best fried chicken in town. The men pitched a large tent on the front lawn where families sat together on the ground in the shade to share the afternoon meal. After lunch, the children played hide and seek in the cemetery while the women removed empty and dirty dishes, carting them down to the creek for a good scrubbing. The men smoked their corncob pipes, while commiserating over their crops, the hot weather, and the rising price of seed. Some of the elders who ate way too much dinner, claimed their tree stump, and propped themselves against it for a Sunday afternoon nap. No one went home; everyone stayed. They knew the preacher was coming.

One could hear the clatter of horse hoofs on the path that led to the church. The elders stirred, the children stopped their play, as the folks crowded underneath the tent to wait for the parson’s imminent arrival. He wasn’t a very big man, kind of lanky and lean looking. The parson sported a torn and dusty black jacket, with the Word of God tucked up under his right arm in an impenetrable football squeeze. He greeted the crowd, gulped a large cup of ice cold lemonade, and immediately began to speak. Many of the people who came to hear the preacher preach could not read. They repeated and memorized Scripture verses as the preacher spoke them out loud. They were starving to understand its deeper meaning.

This preacher knew his audience, and he prayed that He might somehow speak God’s Word in a love language that everyone could understand. He allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to do the speaking through Him. He told about his personal pain that comes from living a sinful life, how he was totally lost and separated from the Father’s love. He explained how Jesus Christ carried his personal sin to the cross; how He died and rose again just to set him free from the things that were eating him alive; He showed them how the blood washes away sin and covers the redeemed in mercy and grace. Now he lives for Christ because Christ lives in him. When the invitation to receive salvation was given, the people came forward, some with their entire families. Together, the community joined hands and made their public profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the sun set that evening across the Mississippi back wood, the people followed the humble circuit-rider to the creek bed, where new converts were baptized right there in the river. People sang and prayed and celebrated together as they saw their sins literally being washed away. This is the day to remember.

When the Holy Spirit comes, people show up. They come, some out of mere curiosity; others hold onto hope for a brighter tomorrow. The gossips, the critics and the innocents are all gathered together, waiting and wondering what will happen next. You see, there are a lot of bewildered and lost people wandering around the back woods of life today. We all come from different cultures, races, ages and geographical locations; yet, we share a common need. The Father’s love language is manifested in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives. It is His priceless gift of love that helps us better understand and communicate the Father’s heart, and the length He continually goes to rescue the lost and bewildered ones. His Word is Truth, and it comes by receiving and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are lots of hungry people who are starving to know Jesus today. How far would you be willing to go to receive the universal language of the Father’s perfect love?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


© Copyright 2009, Deb Spaulding

All rights reserved

Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.

No comments: