Lamplight spreads across the names in the back of my bible. Can’t sleep. It’s 4am, and the medicine I’m on is keeping me awake. I think about what was going on when I wrote each name, and I touch the names tenderly, running my finger left to right as I read. I think of what’s happened since writing them, noting the different inks. John, written calmly with a journaling marker. Haley, scribbled roughly with a pew pen. Healing, death…continued illnesses. Families who are struggling hour by hour, and spouses learning to how to be single after decades of being one with a soulmate. Marriages renewed, new babies born — and unions broken, families split up by sin and selfishness and sadness that Jesus did not want. That no one originally wanted.
Some of these dear names represent people saved! Hallelujah! Souls saved from hell, now assured eternity in heaven as heirs of Christ – hallelujah, hallelujah, Glory to God in the Highest!
There are those names that hit my chest, and my throat swells within me, because they so desperately need to turn back to Jesus. Do they know? Oh, Lord, show them! I am so terribly sad. Some of these dear people, some are wearing a blindfold held tightly in place by a knot of their own making — and sometimes that blindfold seems like a steel mask with chains that they drag along as they wander farther and farther from the call of their shepherd. Tears now, oh my dear ones, tears for you. Prayers for you. Come back. Come home with me. Let’s love our Jesus and just bask in the joy and peace he has for us here! Won’t you come with me into this glorious light? Rest by these still waters with me, please?
There are so many stories for each name. So many ways I’ve seen God’s awesome, always amazing handiwork. And so many times I’ve seen ignorant mortals try to block the I AM at every turn. Out of selfishness, pride, spite, simpleness, humans seek out their own will, in obvious opposition of the Almighty. They have no idea. They couldn’t, could they? Really? I have done this, and it sounds so very ridiculous. Alas, I will do it again. Fool, sinner that I am. Stories, even my own. My name is in the front of this bible…
But perhaps the best part of looking over this list of names here in the wee hours of the weekday morning, before the streets are busy, when these very souls are asleep on this planet…is recalling how I saw God’s plan B unfolded and unpacked and unrolled each time, in his time, before my ever-amazed eyes. I shake my head at the thought of it, because my God never does cease to amaze this girl. Never, ever. When I see his plan B come to life, my heart always says – Shauna, you know that was plan A all along, right? Ultimately, those B actors that step in to work God’s miracles and mysteries are A-listers in heaven, even before the trumpets sound. And our Heavenly Father knew it all along — since before the foundation of the earth. Great and mighty God!
Despite us and our failings and foolishness, God will prevail. Every. Time.
Oh, I’ve seen such beautiful blessings and met such wonderful people, these B-listers, when I got to meet them. Often I don’t know them. I only see the effects of their obedience. God brings them in to get the job done. We witness it again and again in scripture, so it comes as no surprise. Usually, God chooses the pipsqueak, David – the sinful, Rahab – the meek, Mary – to bring his plans to fruition. The archetype remains consistent, the story the same. Small characters become giants through God, and only with him can they maintain this role of greatness, because it is God in them who is great, not they themselves.
On a non-biblical scale, if you look in your daily life and your prayer journal, you can trace the paths of these small, sinful, shy people, the mes and yous, who choose to say, “Okay, God,” when others look on thinking, they are insane. This archetype lives among us today, in 2017.
The foster family who already has three kids and earns a moderate wage, but out of genuine love and compassion undergoes dealing with state bureaucracy, emotional turmoil, and losing all personal privacy, to take two parent-less children into their home, to love and cherish and teach and tend. That middle-class family is going to become poor and have no time for their own children! No. They will be rich in love and strong in number, doubling their legacy and reach for the Kingdom!
That tiny lady church who saves and saves to go on a mission trip. She is a quiet woman who sits alone in church – perhaps a teacher? Not married. But she goes on the mission trip, and she returns changed. She sells all she has in America and makes her new home at the Christian school in a remote village of Africa, teaching and sharing the Gospel with kids who live in hourly fear and poverty. She’s timid. She’s weak. No. She’s so strong.
Running my index finger over these names in my bible, I recall the people who showed up, seeming like plan B in my worldly mind; they are knobby threads in the colorful life tapestries of these precious ones for whom I’ve prayed and pray for now. I thank God for these people, these saints whose names I don’t know. Whom I may only know by their new names in heaven, one glorious day! These who visit the infirm, the impaired, and the incarcerated, who love the homeless and the addicted at their worst moments, who stick closer than a brother with the friend who wants only to be alone. When I pray for my jotted names in varied inks, it’s those people God sends, answering God’s call, hearing and heeding the Spirit so that those I love are well tended, and the prayers of this girl, seeking to be righteous, are fulfilled.