“What’s your last name?” He asked it abruptly, somewhere in between his story of revival in the South Pacific during the last years of The War, and his story of planting a church in Salem in 1957. “Hey now, wait a second. I think…I think I feel a nudge to ask you this. What’s your last name?”
“Moore. Is that so? And you say your husband was in the service?”
“Well now, see here, about 2 or 3 years ago I received a prayer request over here at Salem Alliance for the Moore family whose father was in the service in Afghanistan and whose mother and children were staying in Salem. That’s you, now, isn’t it! I’m just feeling the Spirit nudge me to put some pieces together here. I’ll tell you what, I’ve been praying for your family for 2 or 3 years now, praying for you every week. How about that! Isn’t God something else! Wait – do you think that might be you?”
“It’s very probable! 2 1/2 years ago I moved back here while David was in Afghanistan, and we attended Salem Alliance for most of that time.”
“Well now. Well now. So every week I see you here sitting and working and I know you’re a Believer because, well, I feel the Spirit, and I’m praying for you when I see you and turns out you’re the same person I’m praying for at home, you and your husband and your children.”
His Old Guard eyes dance at me. No, not eyes of the Old Political Christian Guard being torn apart by media for their nefarious support of Donald Trump, but older than that, the Older, Truer Guard – of the era of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, of Billy Graham, of the tent revivals and the mission movements and the post-WW2 preaching of Jesus.
Life shifts into focus, the way reading Elisabeth Elliot moves reality into clear view. The Gospel become both lens and goal, and everything else finds a proper place beneath its head.
Hands shake slightly as they reach to hold mine. His voice is laughing and steady. “I look back, now, and it’s so easy to see, the way God’s been good to me. What a life. WHAT a life. You get to see how even the hardest things worked together for good. Yes, surely God has been good, and he’s good to you, too, Harmony. Don’t back off from the hard things. God works those for our good in the most incredible of ways. Tell your husband. Tell him I’m praying for him. Tell him God has good in store! Yes, you know, it really is all about our Lord Jesus. And Jesus said, when we see these things, we know the time is nigh. Looking around I’m thinking, well, Lord, it must be soon! What a mess we’re making. But oh, what a good, good God.”
What can I say? Sometimes pieces fall together, and questions are answered, in the most unforeseen ways. This Jesus Christ who holds all things together shows up in places I least think to look, through strangers and stories and sunny morning coffee shops, through an elderly man whose meeting with Jesus in a sweaty Marine tent on the island of Tinian shaped his life and saved his soul and this morning, encourages mine.