Oct 3, 2011

THE CROSS BURNING VICTIM

          Psalm 121:8 "The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore."(NKJV)

One late afternoon, as I tidied up our little apartment, I turned on the television to listen to the local news. Right away, a particular story caught my attention. A local woman had sadly become a victim of a hate crime. “The devil is working overtime,” I thought.
I sat down in front of the television and began to watch the reporter share the awful details. Four young men and one woman who identified themselves as “skin heads” had stolen an eleven foot wooden cross from a local Lutheran church. To frighten the woman, the group had hatefully burned the cross on the front lawn of the African American woman’s home.
My heart filled with compassion for the victim. Perhaps she was fearfully experiencing darkness. “Maybe I should share my story of hope with this woman?” I thought.
I decided to go to the local bible store to purchase the woman a small blessing to encourage her. I knew just what I was going to say in the card I planned on including with her gift.  “God is with you in your darkest hour.”
Then, while in the bookstore, I asked the clerk for help in picking out the perfect gift. I said, given the circumstances, I don't think I should buy her a cross or a candle. She shook her head in agreement and began to wander the store for a gift that might speak to her heart.
My hope-filled deed must have caught the ear of another customer. Because the man spared no time in walking straight to a wall plaque with Psalm 121:8 written on it.  Then, he approached me with the plaque. We began to read the words together out loud. "The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." (NKJV) The gift was perfect! God knew just how to touch her soul.
Next, the man and I began to talk for awhile. I shared with him my testimony and he shared his. "I was a Jew,” the man said. “But, an unfaithful one,” he added.  Then, he told me about the day Jesus grabbed hold of his heart.
I enjoyed listening to the man as he worshiped the Lord with his words.  His devotion to Christ was captivating. At one point I even felt myself getting lost in his steadfast sense of direction.  So, I shared with him my confusion about spreading the Gospel with others. I said, “I wonder if I am doing enough. I just wake up in the morning and wait for direction from the Holy Spirit.  Maybe I am supposed to be working with a ministry instead. Do you think God would rather me work with an organization?’
 The man simply smiled and softly said, "Just keep doing what you are doing and don't worry about what comes next!” Had God orchestrated that meeting to assure me that I was doing His will? Filled with excitement, I walked out of the Christian bookstore overjoyed and committed to demonstrating God’s love for the afflicted woman.
When I returned to my car, I paused for a moment realizing that I didn’t have an address to locate the woman’s home. I asked God, “How will I be able to find the correct address Lord?” Suddenly, the picture of the woman’s home from the news broadcast flashed for a moment in my mind. Unbelievably, I was able to recall the name of the street. I started my car and drove to her street. As God would have it, I found the house right away. It looked just like the picture from the news!
As I anxiously pulled my car to the curb, my hands began to shake. They became wet with sweat. I signed the woman’s card and began to walk up the path to the front door. I knocked on the door for several minutes. I could still smell gasoline and charred wood lingering in the air.
Finally, the door slowly opened. A young woman poked her head out to greet me. I felt bewildered when I noticed that she was Caucasian.
Confused, I asked, “Is this the home where the cross was burned?” The woman quietly shook her head ‘no’ from side to side. She replied, “They meant to hurt the woman next door. We just happened to have more space in our yard.”  I shared with her my intention to speak with the woman next door.  Then, she said, “They may not even be home. I think they moved this past weekend.”
Still, certain that I was supposed to leave the gift, I walked next door and knocked on the woman’s screen door. Sadly, no one answered. So, I placed the gift bag against her screen door and walked back to my car.
As I drove away, a song began to play on the radio. I burst into tears as the artist sang, “I will rise, out of these ashes rise, from this trouble I have found and this rubble on the ground, I will rise.” God was in fact confirming that I was in the right place and that I had done His will!
       

         
   Shawn McDonald-Rise 
 


Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise...

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And, to read more about how God first changed my heart, please visit: 

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