The Passion Translation of Matthew 10:7-8 has become the framework of how Mark and I live our lives ... And as you go, preach this message: ‘Heaven’s kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch.’ You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others. This was part of the instruction Jesus gave the Twelve Disciples as He sent them out to display the power of God's Kingdom in the earth. It has changed how we approach each day and what we see as our purpose for being created.
We have been blessed with the opportunity to be self-employed and to find ourselves in a variety of circumstances to walk out these instructions, as we go. This past weekend our path took us to a small Christmas show we had been invited to participate in. It wasn't our normal kind of venue, and there was more than once when we wondered if we were making the right decision from a business standpoint. But we always know that what it looks like in the natural is not always what God has in mind. So we packed up our paintings, hung them on a wall, and waited to see what God's plan was for us. As always, we dedicated ourselves to representing the Kingdom to whomever we came in contact with. And if our bank account prospered from the event, then we would have even more to praise God for.
As it turned out, we had no success for our business, but we were greatly blessed in the Kingdom realm. We met many fascinating people, which has always been a benefit from our lifestyle and our type of business. And the Lord had much work for us to do, and it had nothing to do with selling paintings. First, we ministered to one of the gallery workers whose husband has been suffering for several years now with degenerative pain in his back. We told her we would like to have the opportunity to lay hands on his back and pray for the release of God's healing power through the Holy Spirit in us. In further talking to her, it was discovered that his father was a Freemason, and he was in possession of his father's Masonic regalia, including his Masonic ring. She was aware of the dubious reputation of Freemasonry, having been warned by a member of her Church, and now we had confirmed her suspicions. She was skeptical that her husband would receive this spiritual diagnosis of his physical condition. But she agreed to receive more information from us and to keep in touch with us about the possibilities of ministering to her husband.
We also met with a most entertaining and charming woman who just came to support one of her artisan friends at the show. Her outgoing personality and witty humor covered what we knew were deep emotional wounds from her childhood -- some of which she shared as we got closer during the weekend. As it turned out she was a follower of Jesus, so it was easy to speak to her about His will to heal her spiritual pain and set her free. She was receptive of our message and we are hopeful that we will get the opportunity to speak more truth into her. At least we were able to connect through Jesus.
Not so much with another of our fellow artists. We really enjoyed our time getting to know her, and as she overheard our discussions about our faith, she volunteered that she was Jewish, and we enjoyed hearing about how her family celebrated various Jewish holidays. It soon became clear that we would not be connecting with her through Jesus, as she did not understand any of our questions about what she thought about the Talmud, any of the Lord's Feasts [beyond Passover], and did not know what Messianic Judaism was all about. So we did not push or try to evangelize, we just respected where she was at, while representing our King Jesus.
Although our weekend may not have been monetarily prosperous, we felt rich after a random conversation with one of the most successful artists at the show. She has always been courteous and the undeclared leader of that art community, with beautiful artwork on display. Until that day, we had never really been able to connect on a personal level. But like I said before, God runs His playbook His way, and we are just obedient to be ready for wherever He wants us to go. This time, our assignment was to just be patient and wait for what He had in store. This gracious artist came to us and we began a conversation, and it was soon apparent what God had in mind. As she shared her testimony of her husband's years as a pilot in the Vietnam war and how God helped her through those sleepless nights, we were able to connect by sharing our recent ministry with veterans of this era's warfare. From that moment, our conversation took on a very spiritual nature. I listened as she shared her pride in the schools her husband has built in Laos; of her grand-daughter's mission trip to Syria in which she led three Muslim men to Christ and then baptized them with water from a plastic bottle, all the while mindful that the Taliban were a constant threat to discover her work; and how this artist's faith and trust in Jesus got her through the loss of her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren in a plane crash in the mountains of Colorado during a freak August snowstorm. She now ministers to those who are grieving the loss of their own loved ones, and speaks of Jesus's healing Presence.
We sat there for more than 30 minutes, oblivious to anyone around us, and praised the Lord for what He means to us and how He has worked throughout our lives. In the end, God solidified a new relationship and friendship in Him. There is now an unbroken bond that is centered on Christ and transcends the identities the world has given us.
These may seem like inconsequential encounters to you, but I promise you that this weekend was not at all about the number of paintings we would sell, but instead was all about telling others about the power of the Kingdom of God in our lives. And it was an example of how it can look to preach the Good News of that Kingdom as we go into the world. We just planted the seeds and we are trusting the Holy Spirit to water them. And we will be ready to respond if that seed grows from good soil. Although the world might judge this weekend as unfruitful, we know otherwise. We have freely received the power of the Kingdom, and we will always eagerly look for the opportunities to freely give it away. Thank you, Lord!
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.