Listening to God

Do you sometimes wonder what God is thinking?

Of course, He's already told us a great deal in Scripture. But, on a day-to-day basis, we may still run into situations that confound us. The apostle Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face-to-face."

One of our ministry staff recently found himself wondering what God had in mind.

inmates in prayer lutheran indian ministries

It started with the urging to visit a Native man incarcerated at the nearby prison. Simple enough. Except this wasn't just any common criminal. This man had been convicted of murder and a particularly brutal one at that.

Our staff member ministers to prisoners on a regular basis, leading Bible studies and sharing the love of God with men who often feel forgotten. Most days, he doesn't worry much about his personal safety, but this was no normal day.

As prison guards kept watch, the two men sat down on opposite sides of the table. On one side, the man with the Bible. On the other side, the hardened, expressionless man in chains.

On this first meeting, our staff pastor wanted to simply make a connection. But what could he say? 

These two men come from similar backgrounds, raised in their Native culture and victims of abuse, but their positions on this day, and the choices made to get there, couldn't be more different.

Finally, our staff member said, "There are people who care for you."

No response.

The pastor reminded himself that the table between them was bolted down and the man across from him was handcuffed to it. A good thing.

In the anxious silence that followed, he sensed God telling him to touch the man.

holding hands lutheran indian ministries

"Touch him?" he thought to himself. "Lord, why? You must be kidding!"

It was certainly not what he had in mind walking into this stark, concrete room. But sensing God's direction, he reached across the table and rested his hand on the arm of the prisoner as he said gently, "Jesus loves you... We're praying for you."

At his touch, the rage in the man's face melted, and he burst into sobs. 

Any threat of violence, whether real or perceived, immediately faded. God provided entry into the man's heart and conscience, and, after a long talk, the meeting ended with both heads bowed in prayer.

What's true in life is true in ministry: a small action, urged by God, can move mountains.