Jun 4, 2008

God and the US Postal Service

Ever wonder if God still wants to be intimately involved in every detail of His kids' lives? Sit back and relax, and let me tell you a story.

Studly Man and I met while working with a juvenile prison ministry. Later, the Lord blessed us with a ministry of our own, and since that time, we've been on one. amazing. journey.

One of our sweet volunteers was sitting behind a couple in church one particular Sunday morning. Angela recognized something in the wife of the couple that tugged at her heart strings. Melanie was quite obviously suffering the effects of chemotherapy and was likely in the battle of her life. Angela's mother had suffered this way years before, and the memories were painful. After the service concluded, Angela tapped Melanie on the shoulder and introduced herself. In the months that followed, Angela ministered to Melanie and Jeff, her husband, and their two teenaged daughters in ways few would have thought to employ. Jeff's job with the US Postal Service provided good insurance, but it wasn't enough to meet all of their expenses. The tangible help Angela gave them was secondary only to the spiritual encouragement she lavished on them.

Jeff and Melanie were deeply in love, and their marriage had weathered many storms, including Jeff's addiction to drugs and alcohol. Melanie's condition was terminal, and Jeff was struggling to find meaning in what God was allowing to happen in his life. He hung on every word he heard at church and from new friends who loved him with the love of Christ. Melanie's faith was strong, and her witness to her husband was powerful.

After months of fighting, Melanie went home to be with Jesus. Jeff was devastated. Lost, really. Angela continued to encourage him. One day she told him she thought his testimony would be a powerful tool of the Lord to minister to the young men (and women) who were incarcerated. He listened with interest as she shared of her experiences inside the prison walls.

A few month's after Melanie's death, Jeff planned to join our team and go into the local prison with us. Because training is required for every new volunteer, Studly made plans to meet with Jeff at the church to conduct the training. The meeting went well, and Jeff was ready to go.

Even with Melanie's passing so very fresh, he stood before those young men and shared his story, his heart, and his tears. They listened to every word with respect and compassion (an unusual occurrence with incarcerated teens) and clapped with enthusiasm when he finished. One by one, they filed by to shake his hand, share their condolences, and thank him personally for coming - in the midst of his grief - to minister to them. He was moved, and he was encouraged.

At the end of the event, Jeff walked over to where Studly stood with Shiloh. Jeff studied her face carefully and then looked at Studly. He said, "You live on 'ABC' Street, don't you?" Studly was shocked. "Well, yes, I do. How did you know?" he asked. With a huge grin, Jeff said, "Your dog barks at me every day. I'm your postman." Studly called me over, and we all laughed at how God weaves the threads of our lives together for His purpose, even when we're completely unaware.

If that was the end of the story, it'd be a pretty good one. It isn't the end. It's only the beginning. Come back tomorrow for the next installment. You'll laugh out loud or maybe cry with how amazing our God is and how He much He cares about us.


Paula (SweetPea) said...

Oh, you rotten girl you. What a cliff hanger. I am so touched by this story. Wow. Wow. To be in the depths of pain and to minister to others in deep need. Wow. I'm sure the rest of your story shows again how He has blessed Jeff. I can't imagine the swelling of Jeff's heart in the midst of losing his wife and being used by the Holy One.

Thanks, Jenn.
Can't wait until tomorrow.

Sheryl said...

Oh I hate it when people leave me hangin'! I will be back and there better not be a part three.

Somehow I missed your story on your previous post about losing your button. Too funny!! I'm thinking that your husband intentionally overlooked those safety pins!!