Jun 5, 2008

God and the US Postal Service - Part Two

If you missed Part One, check it out here.

Fast forward several months. Since Studly's business is home-based, he was often able to invite Jeff in for a glass of iced tea when he'd see him out on his route. We'd also occasionally see Jeff at church - not that he was only occasionally there, but that we go to a BIG church, and it's easy to miss seeing friends from week to week, especially if they attend services at a different hour. When we'd see him, we knew he was struggling. Depression was nagging at his heels, and he missed Melanie terribly. He was fighting the urge to fall into old patterns of behavior. He was in a great class, surrounded by believers who loved him, encouraged him, and also remembered sweet Melanie. He found solace there.

One day, Studly Man went to the mailbox in front of our house. We don't get much mail there because the prison system strongly suggests never giving one's home address as prisoners WILL come visit you upon release. We have a post office box for ministry, and we use that for personal bills, etc. for the additional safety and prevention against theft of credit card or banking information. So our home mailbox usually only takes in birthday or Christmas cards from family or very close friends or sales circulars from local businesses.

Imagine Studly's surprise when he found an envelope addressed to Faithful Friends, our street NAME, but no house number, the city and state, but no zip code. There was no return address anywhere on the envelope. A note in Jeff's handwriting was attached to the front. It said:

"Les, if anyone else had come across this letter, it would have ended up in the dead letter file. I am your FAITHFUL FRIEND in Christ, Jeff."

The implication was that there is no "faithful" ANYTHING registered on our residential street. Another mail carrier would not have been able to put the pieces of the Faithful Friend name and our street name together to know its intended destination. But GOD ordained it for JEFF to be the one who sorted mail that morning, and the letter found its home.

What was IN that letter you ask?

A check to the ministry for over $11,000 and a beautiful, affirming letter from a precious couple who desired not only to be obedient to God in their giving, but also to support the work of Faithful Friend Ministry. Studly was blown away. That was the biggest donation we'd ever received with the single exception of a grant from a non-profit foundation, and it came at a time when we'd been asking the Lord whether or not we were to continue in prison ministry. What a confirmation!

When Studly was finally able to catch his breath, he decided to call Jeff to tell him what was inside the letter he had worked so hard to deliver. Studly called Jeff on his cell phone as it was only about 4:00 in the afternoon, and he suspected Jeff might still be on his route. He was right. Studly read the letter to Jeff and told him about the check.

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

Jeff had pulled over to the side of the road to regain his composure.

After a long moment, Jeff said, "I needed that today. I REALLY needed that. I don't know if you realize what the date is, but tomorrow is the first anniversary of my wife's death. It has been a really hard week. I didn't want to go back to my old bad habits [drugs and alcohol] to help deal with the pain. Instead I'd been thinking about killing myself. I needed to hear that God has me right where He wants me and that He can still use this broken, hurting man. Thank you. Thank you for calling to tell me what was in the letter."

Who says God isn't in the details? He is intimately acquainted with all our ways, and He loves us. He loves us more than we could ever imagine, even when He seems so far away. And He knows our needs. He is never late and never too early in delivering exactly what we need.

Jeff's life changed that day. So did the way Studly and I look at the gift and responsibility of ministry.

If THAT were the end of the story, it'd be a good story wouldn't it? It isn't! There's still more... all tied to this letter and how an all-knowing, omnipresent God IS in the details. Come back tomorrow for part three!

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

First of all, I said yesterday that there better not be a part 3, but...that is FANTASTIC. God amazes me over and over. I will be back tomorrow.