This morning we had a guest pastor and he did a great job. The preacher talked about a man named Mephibosheth - not your standard name, I guess. And certainly his story is as unusual as his name. He was born into royalty and privilege, the grandson of King Saul. But when Saul was on the run and his rival, David, was gradually amassing his own power, Mephibosheth's nurse grabbed him and ran. She knew the new king would most likely kill off everyone in the old dynasty and that meant the child was in danger. While she was fleeing, however, she fell with the child and both his legs were injured. He never walked again. After Mephibosheth was grown, King David, in an extraordinary display of grace, sent for him, had Mephibosheth brought to the palace and insisted that the paralyzed man be seated daily at his own table. The grandson of the man who had once tried to kill him. Grace.
That's what the preacher preached on this morning and he made the story come alive. Now I'd like to transition to another story and hopefully tie it all together at the end.
The other story is from the book Kisses from Katie, which I am still reading and still in love with.. more so than ever. The book delineates Katie's desire to "live Jesus" in front of the Ugandan people as well as her deep need to bring as many orphans as she can to her "table" to eat. This week I've read of so many hopeless cases, of kids who had less than nothing, kids who were near death, kids who were abused and hated, kids who had never known love at all, in any shape, form or fashion. And although it's hard, she and her workers love and feed and minister to hundreds of children with amazing results. As if that isn't enough, she herself has adopted 14 girls - they are her girls in her mind as much as if she had carried them herself. She is their mommy.
All of her stories have touched my heart but there is one in particular that came to mind this morning during worship. After Katie had adopted 11 children, she told God that was enough, that she didn't need to adopt anymore. During this time, an old grandmother walked 7 miles to Katie's house with her granddaughter tied to her back. The granddaughter, a two-and-a-half-year old, could not speak, walk, or use her hands to feed herself. The grandmother wanted Katie to take the child but there was no way Katie could add another child to her family, especially one with special needs. So she sent the grandmother away with some food. This happened three or four times.
By this time, Katie was dealing with hundreds of children each day in addition to her own girls so over time, the grandmother with the little paralyzed child faded from her mind. Then God began to burden her in the middle of the night and in the small hours of the morning. Katie would wake up and begin to pray fervently, knowing God was trying to tell her something but unsure what it was. She would read her Bible extensively, wondering what God was trying to say. After several nights of this, God impressed on her in an unmistakable way that her next child was named Sarah. She already had a Sarah and didn't feel she could handle a "next" child so she was confused. But again, God whispered that Sarah was her next child.
She accepted this and began to pray for "Sarah" until she reached the place where she actually longed for this unknown child. Finally she told God that she could not stand knowing there was a girl somewhere who was supposed to be her daughter and yet being unable to find her. Would God please bring Sarah to her door?
The next day, the grandmother showed up at her house with the two-year-old tied to her back. Katie took the girl in her arms and asked the grandmother what the child's name was. Her name was ...Sarah.
This was to be her 12th daughter, the one God had prepared her heart for, the one she felt she could not mother on top of the other daughters she already had. The one who could not walk, talk, or feed herself. But when Katie took the girl in her arms that first time, after mentally realizing this was "Sarah", the little girl held onto her hand, looked at her and said, "Mamma" much to her grandmother's shock.
Then the grandmother got down on her knees and begged Katie to take this child, saying that God had prompted her several times to bring the child to Katie, telling her that this foreign woman would be able to care for her sick grandchild. She added that she didn't know what was wrong with the girl and had never been able to take her to the hospital but God had told her this Mommy of so many girls would be able to help her granddaughter.
The rest of the story is nothing short of a miracle. But I won't spoil the book by telling you what God did through Katie and her other girls to help this child. You will want to read it for yourself.
Going back to the service this morning, after listening to the story about Mephibosheth, who could not walk at all, I kept thinking about Katie's 12th daughter, who also could not walk. A child who had nothing, a child who had to be carried everywhere, a child who was broken in so many ways.
Yet she was adopted into this family of plenty (by Ugandan standards) and seated as an equal at their table.
Then, as this graphic picture went through my mind, the choir began to sing the chorus:
“I come broken… to be mended
I come wounded… to be healed
I come desperate… to be rescued
I come empty… to be filled
I come guilty… to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God…just as I am.”
And that's when it hit me: I am the spiritual special needs child who can't do anything for herself and God is the one who has brought me into His home and seated me at His table; I'm the one who has been mended, I'm the one who has been filled. And yes, I am the one who has been "welcomed with open arms."
More than that, I am the one who is learning from some of the neediest children in the world - children who truly know brokenness and who, because of that, as they come under the protection of Amazima Ministries, also know, fully know, the power and love of God.
WE have a saying in the States, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it."
I think God was saying to me this morning, "If you don't understand, really know, that you were once broken, you'll never really know or understand the love I lavished on you in order to raise you up and seat you at my table."
Today I left church in tears, knowing that I should be running after the hem of God's garment every single God-given day, crying out, "Abba! I love you! I am well! I am fine!!! I love you!!!"
As Katie puts it in her book: God loves us...