Do you know Patricia St. John? She was a life long missionary, and the author of many wonderful books for children. I read all of them as a young girl, but never knew about this book, her autobiography, until recently.
The writer of the forward for the book describes Patricia St. John as a “redemptive person”. Isn’t that a beautiful description of a person? That someone would meet PSJ and come away feeling that from her? I was moved to tears at the thought of what a wonderful woman she must have been to garner such a description.
Redemption is certainly the theme of all her children’s books so I can imagine she must have been like that in person as well.
One of my favorite parts of the book thus far is a story PSJ shares of her time working in a small village in Morocco. Each week she’d invite the ladies of the village to come to her house for tea and fellowship, and then she’d share the gospel with them.
One older lady, the village water carrier, came every week, enjoyed tea, and then promptly fell asleep when the bible message began. Her snores were very disruptive, but PSJ let her sleep, knowing how tired she must be from her hard daily work.
One day this woman stayed awake for the message. She seemed happier and less bowed under the weight of her buckets. “What has happened?” PSJ asked her.
The woman replied, “I heard the message you spoke for me last week. The one where your Jesus said, “come to me all you that labor and are heavy laden.” You were talking to me. I am the one who is heavy laden with these buckets of water. And all the next day I kept saying Jesus’ name over and over as I carried those buckets, And they didn’t feel so heavy. He helped me.”
PSJ smiled in wonder at the goodness of God.
This woman had heard the words Jesus spoke and then she fell asleep and didn’t hear the rest of the words PSJ had spoken. PSJ went on further to share that the heavy burdens Jesus took from is were our sins. He carries them from us and for us.
But this woman didn’t need to hear that. She needed to know that there was a God who cared for her physical burdens. A God who would meet her simple, physical needs.
She didn’t theology or doctrine.
And God knew that.
He met her where she was.
I love that so much.
Because I have been there.
God has met me in the shower, where I hid my tears from my kids, and cried out my broken heart after a miscarriage and over a broken marriage.
God met m in the pages of The Chronicles of Narnia, where He showed me how much He loved and cared for me through the character Aslan. And what grace and forgiveness look like through the characters of Edmund and Eustace.
He met me as I read through the Jesus Storybook Bible with my kids, crying through every story that showed the mighty, healing, grace of a Savior who forgives.
He met me in a hospital room, in the gentle touch of a nurse, who washed blood from my legs and let me cry over a lost baby.
He met me atop a mountain, in the form of a hawk, hovering just over our heads for many minutes. Aaron and I were broken, bruised, and healing, and that hawk spoke to us a message of hope. He reminded us of a God Who brings miracles of beauty and grace, when it doesn’t seem like they could possibly be there.
None of these moments were in church, or came from deep, theological discussions.
They were, however, very much what I needed at the time.
God met me where I was,
He knew exactly what I needed from Him.
And He gave it to me.
I love my church, my pastor, and the way God ministers to me through both of them.
But I also love the way God knows me so deeply and personally that He brings me His love in many, many different ways.
He knows us.
“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
Psalm 139: 1-12
If you are feeling weary and burdened, weighted down with care like that woman in the village, may you know the deep, abiding, caring love of God today.
You only need to call His name.
And remember, books change people.
The Good Book, and also so many others that God uses to speak to us.