Seven years ago my husband and I heard the gospel for the ﬁrst time. It was dumbfounding that we hadn’t understood or even wanted to understand before. I think about all of the decisions that I would have made differently and praise Him that He uses all things for His glory.
Two years later, my husband felt God impressing on Him a call to be a missionary. There was no way I was going to let that happen. I had everything that I wanted and needed wrapped up in a nice little bow. Although I was getting to know God, I had yet to completely surrender my life to Him.
Three years ago, I ﬂew to Panama on a short term mission trip and while I was standing in the airport, I heard the voice of the Lord. It was so distinct and clear that I stopped completely in my tracks. He said, “Michele, this is where I need you to be.” I answered out loud, “No way! Im only staying here for this week.”
The next seven days I wrestled with Father about my plans verses His plans and ultimately, He won. It was that week that I began to lift my hands, palms open. I told God that I would follow Him wherever He wanted me to go and that I would do whatever He wanted me to do.
Upon our return from that trip, we sold everything; houses, cars and my husband’s optometric practices.
There is not a day that the sun sets that I am not inspired BY Him and thankful FOR Him. He has kept His promises! Not once has there been a time that we have gone without food and shelter. My faith in Father and how He continues to bless have left me awestruck and completely overwhelmed by His grace, mercy and love. Daily we learn that He shows us His love in the most extraordinary ways and it is up to us to slow down enough to be able to see it. The following is one of those instances.
Yesterday held the most precious moment for me. It was only a fraction of a second. So quick that had I blinked I may have missed it. In that split second, God poured an incredible blessing that left me choking back tears of joy.Everyone wants to feel loved; for a breath, for a moment, for a lifetime. Some of us spend day in and day out searching for acceptance and love without realizing that if we have not accepted the love from our heavenly Father, that we cannot fully grasp the concept of giving and receiving love here on earth. Jesus is love. Once we have experienced this unadulterated love, there is no turning back because it is just too powerful!
I met six year old Alexa at one of our vision clinics at a small church in Bejuco, Panama. She followed me around the entire day, holding my hand and smiling. It was an instant connection. Within the ﬁrst few moments, I fell in love with her.
Throughout the day, we talked about different things, likes and dislikes, school and family. We discovered that our birthdays were on the same day. How faithful is God?! I love His switchboard. Alexa disappeared for a bit but came bounding back in ten minutes later and began yanking on my shirt. She was breathless, excited and speaking in Spanish much too fast for me to understand, so I put her hand in mine and went to ask my husband what she was saying.
Looking up at him with those big, dark eyes, she repeated herself and I watched a smile form on his lips. He turned and told me that she was inviting me to her birthday party. I wondered if she had actually asked or whether she was just inviting me on her own.
Joseph and I drove to visit Alexa two days before her big day. We pulled up outside her house and I could see an elderly man sitting on the porch. He looked frail as his eyes watered and he dabbed his nose with a wad of tissues. A younger man stood up, I suppose trying to decide what to do about us standing there outside the gate. I said hello and asked if Alexa was home. He replied to wait there for a minute.
A couple of minutes later, Alexas’ mom, Mariana stepped out. I quickly explained who we were and she smiled and invited us to sit on her porch. She told me that she knew who I was, that Alexa had come running home from the eye clinic and asked if she could invite me to her birthday party. It made me smile that she had actually gone home and asked. It was absolutely endearing. What are the chances of the two of us having the same birthday?
We sat and visited for a while and I listened to her tell about her family. She has three children; eleven, six (on Wednesday) and the youngest only eighteen months. The father left them to fend for themselves. Her father is very ill so he now lives with her. As I peeked into the house I could see a wheelchair and a walker. From the sounds of his cough, I wondered if he has pneumonia. The baby, Marion, awoke from her nap and shufﬂed outside. Her mouth was covered with sores and she was coughing. Despite not feeling well, she was tickled to see visitors.
Alexa wasn't home, so we told her Mariana to not tell Alexa that we stopped by and that we would surprise her on Wednesday. No sooner did those words come out of our mouths, and I heard someone coming. That next moment will be forever ingrained in my memory. I watched her walk toward the house until she looked directly at me. That moment in time froze then began to move forward ever so slightly. Her face changed from no recognition, to a quizzical look, to a pause and then to a breath that grew into the biggest smile that extended from her mouth to her eyes.
She began to run. I could feel the tears of joy begin to sting my eyes. This little girl had stolen my heart.
She ran onto the porch and jumped straight into my arms for a hug. My heart felt so huge that I thought it was going to burst right out of my chest. It was ﬁlled with love for this child that I had met only once on a day that Father orchestrated. I haven't been able to stop that moment from replaying in my head. As I laid down to sleep last night I was trying to pinpoint my emotions. I prayed for Father to give me discernment and I do believe that He did.
Love is powerful. It's something that we all desire. It's also something that comes in different facets that are often times overlooked...a smile, a hug, a kind word, a gesture. I wish that I could literally share thatintimate moment with each of you so you could experience the love that came from Father through a six year old. Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” I would say that love is pretty high on His list. My prayer is that we would give and receive love with an open heart. I pray that we can let go of all of our baggage that gets in the way and creates distraction and static in hearing God. I have found that when I want to bless someone, the blessing comes back two-fold as a blessing for me. That's how much He loves us.
You can connect with Michele and her family as they continue to work in the mission field. Join the group “Gods Eyes Panama” on Facebook.