There are moments in your life when you just know God is speaking directly to you. Moses was at the office (a field full of sheep) and saw a glowing bush. After he took the time to “turn aside to see”, God spoke to him. Not to anyone else – just to Moses. Moses wasn’t praying. He wasn’t at church. He wasn’t even looking for God. God had something He wanted to tell Moses, so He found a way to say it.
Well, I am certainly not Moses, but I had the honor of God speaking to me a month ago. Not through a burning bush, but through a gentle, retired immigrant man who drove me (and my new friend Rod Hairston, chaplain of the Baltimore Ravens) from the St. Louis airport to the church where we would both have the privilege to speak the following day.
Konrad was making small talk with us (family, career, etc.), when I asked him about his unusual name and where his family was from. That simple question led to an amazing story of immigrating to the U.S.with his family at age 11. Not knowing any English, except “yes” and “no”. Being called a Nazi by elementary kids who probably didn’t know where Austria was, and how truly poor his family of five was when he was a child.
I complain when my hotel mattress is too hard, or too soft, or if they don’t have a pillow suitable for my needs. Konrad shared that his family sewed potato sacks together and filled them with hay to make their beds. With a smile on his face he added how thankful they were to have fresh hay and that “God always met our needs”. He was deeply grateful for God’s provision and the deep faith his parents had instilled in him and his siblings.
A moment later he shared about working for the railroad his entire career, marrying a lovely lady and raising children of his own. In almost the same breath he then told Rod and me about his beloved daughter dying suddenly last year. She left two young children and a devoted husband. I said that must have been terrible, and he again gently, but confidently said, “yes, but God was gracious; He always provides and knows what is best”.
As he continued I knew for certain this was a “God moment”. He was giving me a living sermon illustration of what pastor Bill has been teaching over the past few weeks on “contentment”. Bill is a fabulous orator, and does a fabulous job of getting God’s heart across in the message. But this time God allowed me to experience a real-life illustration. Konrad had walked in God’s contentment all his life. He was truly happy and thankful for a couple of potato sacks to sleep on. He was thrilled to be living in America, even though he was bullied for his heavy accent. And then, my heart sunk as he shared how thankful he was to Jesus that he beloved daughter was now with Him in heaven and how confident he was that God was going to be good to her children and husband.
“He is always enough”. “He has always provided” “He is a good God”. Konrad’s message seared into my heart on a 40 minute van ride from the St. Louis airport. I said goodbye to my new friend when we arrived at the church, but i will never forget his stories of true contentment in Christ, nor God providing me a “burning life” through which to speak in a way no sermon can.