“Angels Unawares”!

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2

Who are the “strangers” the Bible is referring to here? A Biblical stranger is any person – apart from yourself – who has a need. It could even be your next door neighbor. But primarily, here, it refers to people that we do not know or whom under normal circumstances we could hardly care about.

Our key scripture above refers, chiefly, to the account, in Genesis chapter 18, of how Abraham entertained total strangers who just happened to be the LORD Himself and two of His angels. Let us look at this account up close.

“1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.”

In this account, we can clearly see Abraham’s attitude to strangers in the way he treated the three men. Abraham had a heart of mercy. He lifts up his eyes and sees three men standing outside his tent “in the heat of the day”. This little detail – “in the heat of the day” – indicates that the men were tired, exhausted and in need.

Abraham does not know they are angels. The LORD was not wearing a three-piece suit, nor did He roll up in a private jet. He came on foot and He looked tired and hungry.

Clearly, the men have come a long way and they probably have a long way to go. Abraham decides he cannot let them pass. He must do something for them! His heart trembles with mercy – and generosity.

But first, he must get their permission. Abraham has a servant’s heart. Just because he has something to give to these men, Abraham does not walk up to them with his hands stuck in his pockets and tell them, “I can see you are hungry. Now, sit down and let me see what I can do for you. And don’t make noise. I don’t like noise around my house.”

Bless the Lord, no. Abraham does not talk or behave like that. Instead, he tells them:

“3 My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”

Abraham calls himself their servant and deliberately makes these strangers his lords. To which they replied,

So do, as thou hast said.”

Abraham springs into action. Abraham has a large heart. Without thinking, his heart knows exactly what it needs to do to refresh these exhausted men. The rest, as they say, is history. The “morsel of bread” that he sets out to prepare for them turns out to be a banquet!

It could be that Abraham did not prepare a good and tender calf for every stranger who passed by… or, it may well be that he did. After all, not many people passed through the dry plains of Mamre in those days and Abraham’s heart was able to take care of anyone who had a need. But, whatever he did or did not do, Abraham’s heart to strangers, or people in need, is clearly revealed in these scriptures.

That is unlike so many of us. Many of us have an ‘accountant’ mind where keeping an account of the things we own is of more importance to us than helping someone in need. To many people, a stranger – or a needy person – is an intrusion into their lives! But it was not so with Abraham.

Has anyone passed by your house or your place of work lately, whom you felt was not deserving of your attention? They probably did not meet your (worldly) criteria of someone you needed to do a favor to.

Most people will bend over backwards to extend their warmest welcome to people they know or to people who look important – or to people they want to help – but not to “other” people.

But God comes incognito. When the Lord decides to visit you in person He does not send a celebrity your way. Nor does He send your best friend around. On the contrary, He will send a type of person that you couldn’t care about – or the kind of person that you loathe. That will be your angel. God knows our hearts and He knows all the pride and selfishness in us. This is a test that He therefore sets before us. Being the God of heaven, He is not going to give us kindergarten stuff. God will give us something that will test us to the core, for He longs to mature us in the Spirit.

But this test comes with a blessing. According to His good purposes, God sometimes does bless us materially to the extent that we do the same to others. But it is not the material blessing which we are to seek after, and that is why it is not a law for God to bless us in that manner. It is the fruit of the Spirit that is God’s true blessing to us. The Bible, in Luke 6:38, says:

“30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:30-38)

That is God’s character. But, again, notice God’s many promises to us when we “entertain strangers”. And God is faithful, which means He will fulfill every promise of His.

It all hinges on the heart. Do we have a loving, tender heart? Or is our heart hard and selfish and judgemental?

I thank God for the many men and women of God the world over who have exactly this heart. I personally have had the honor of coming across some of them. They are not necessarily the people who can preach the cross very well. But they are brothers and sisters who can live it.

God will bless these people with a heavenly blessing.

 

Christ Crucified – A Heavenly Visitation

10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 1 Pet. 1:10-12
One day, my wife and I were recalling a certain man of God, well known the world over through his ministry who, a few years back, had graced our annual CTMI (www.ctmi.org) conference in Mauritius.
My wife asked me, “Did you ever hear of that man again?”
I answered, “No.”
“You mean he never came back again?” she persisted.
“I think so”, I said.
The significance of what we had just spoken sank deep into us and we both fell silent. It dawned on us that this man had been unable to grasp the import of the gospel of the cross. It dawned on us even further how difficult and, in some cases, how downright impossible it is for the great men of God in this world to see in the Spirit “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”.
Scripture tells us that the prophets of old “enquired and searched diligently… of the grace that should come to”… us!
The prophets of old were great men in the Spirit. They saw and heard in the Spirit that “which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:4).
Moreover, these men performed great and powerful miracles in the Name of the Lord. These were truly powerful men in the Spirit. Also, they underwent some of the most severe sufferings in order to bring God’s vision to fruition in our lives. And yet these men and women were denied the right to understand or experience the grace that is ours today. What a powerful realization!
But that is not all. God’s Word tells us something even more awe-inspiring about the grace that is ours today:
“…which things the angels desire to look into”.
Angels are heavenly spiritual beings. They are unparalleled in power and might and wisdom. But here the Bible declares that they long to “look into” the grace that we are experiencing today.
What does scripture mean by “angels desire to look into”?
It means that God’s holy angels desire to understand, or experience the grace that can be found in the crucified life. This understanding makes us to realize that the crucified life the highest manner of life that can be lived on earth and in heaven. That is why Jesus is so exalted, because He was able to live the crucified life.
The revelation of a crucified life is the privilege that God has reserved for all who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an indescribable privilege to be able to understand “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” Herein, in the crucified life, lies the measureless grace of God in its entirety, and God’s glory also (1 Pet. 1:11).
That is why the Apostle Paul declares that when he went to the Corinthians, he “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
Why should he? Paul had seen in the Spirit the glory of this privilege, and he was not about to play games with it.
But this is also a glory that has bypassed the great men and women of God in this world. For only the humble in heart can experience the crucified life and the grace and the glory to be found therein.
The Apostle Peter therefore shows those of us who have seen this glory of the crucified life and who have allowed themselves to be under the hand of God the great responsibility that we have:
“13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:13-17).

image13684

Of God’s Grace And Strangers

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2

God sets incredibly high standards for us as His children! But again, such stringent standards are almost nothing compared to the responsibilities that He has reserved for us in heaven. Amongst them, the Bible says, is that we will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Now, we would hardly expect a person who will judge angels in heaven to be someone who does not care about the attitude of his or her heart – or his actions. That is why when such a person momentarily loses their faith and becomes careless in their actions, like Abraham did with Hagar, the repercussions reverberate far beyond anyone’s realm of sight. They are beyond catastrophic.

But, anyway, back to our subject.

Right at the outset, notice that this scripture is tied in with the exhortation to “Let brotherly love continue” (v.1).

A brother is someone whom you know, someone close to you. A stranger, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He is just that… a stranger. He is someone you do not know. In today’s violence-prone atmosphere, we could even fear strangers. But scripture here firmly instructs us that, while our first priority is to uphold brotherly love, yet we have a responsibility to those who are outside our fold. That’s a Godly charge. As people who have God’s nature in us, we should not only minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to strangers. There are believers (and church communities) who live such insulated lives they spend all their energy on themselves and their close ones.

But the Bible here tells us to “be not forgetful” because you can become so inward-looking that other people become of little value to you. You become insensitive to people’s needs, people’s suffering.

Hebrews 13:2 refers specifically to Abraham, among others. Abraham was a man such as you and I, but he entertained angels unawares. Now, you would expect that when angels visited men they would come in all their glory, trumpets sounding and golden wings flashing. But these came to Abraham’s tent in the form of strangers. Flesh and blood, tired strangers. Abraham’s story is well-known.

Here is the account in full:

“1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” Gen. 18:1-8

It is clear from this account that Abraham did not know that these men were angels (and the LORD was among them!) Abraham just saw three men approaching his tent “in the heat of the day”.

Under such hot conditions the men must have appeared tired and worn out. Upon looking at their dust-covered feet Abraham knew they must have travelled far and that they were hungry. And Abraham pleaded with them to accept “a little” generosity from him. The “little water” and “morsel of bread” that Abraham prepared for them turned out to be probably the biggest feast of their lives, and the service they received from this dusty nomad and his wife far exceeded what any modern man would receive at the top Hyatt hotel.

“A morsel of bread”! God’s people are incredibly humble!!

It was not like Abraham spent all his time seated outside his tent forcing any Tom, Dick and Harry into his house to eat and wash their feet. But he knew when a man was in trouble, and he spared no effort in making them feel welcome and comfortable in his house. The heart that Abraham carried was what mattered.

When we are taking up our cross and following Christ, we will do the same. A stranger is someone who in a sense is at our mercy. A stranger is a man or woman who has a need. And he does not have to come from our denomination. The Bible is actually talking about people who are not our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we have the heart of Christ, who died for us while we were yet strangers, all because of mercy.

Meeting such a person’s need, therefore, requires a heart of mercy. May we not harden our hearts. Some, the Bible tells us, have entertained angels unawares.

In the final analysis, I wonder what a full, contented angel would do by way of thanking us? No doubt, much more than we could ask or dream! Such was the blessing that befell Abraham.

[Abraham took a heifer “tender and good” – the best – from his herd and prepared it for total strangers]

Image6515

God Regards the Humble In Heart

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Lk. 2:8-14

Imagine: it is late at night; everyone is deep asleep – except the night watchmen. Have you ever seen a night watchman? I am not talking about a Marine, no; just a plain night watchman. A night watchman job is not anyone’s idea of a job. Night watchmen jobs are the most menial of jobs. Some people have a romantic idea of a night watchman because they read of it in the Bible; but there is nothing romantic about staying awake out in the cold at night. No one would not want to be in their warm beds in the middle of the night. Whoever accepts the job of night watchmen accepts it only as a last resort.

In my country, night watchmen are the lowest-paid and they have the most wretched lives among the entire working class spectrum.

In a sense, shepherds are also just like these night watchmen. They have to stay awake at night to, as the Bible says, “keep watch over their flock”. And in Middle Eastern countries it is extremely cold at night, therefore this is not a job that one would willingly take up. By any standards, a shepherd is a very lowly occupation.

But it was to just this very group that God sent His angel to announce the news of Jesus’ birth. And you have to wonder why God would send His angel to break such important news to mere shepherds.  I mean, there were far more important people He could have informed first. There were kings, there were noblemen, there were high priests and all the high-profile men of God.

What’s in a shepherd, anyway? What is he worth? Much nothing.

And as the poor shepherds stood there trembling at the sight of this one angel, God “upped the ante”, as they say. In other words, God increased things, His blessings, upon these lowly folks! The Bible says that “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

All of a sudden, a whole company of angels appeared from heaven and, together with this angel, they began praising God. These angels sang to God in the presence of the shepherds!

I can assure you, angels are not Mariah Carey. What these shepherds heard was not anything that can be found in this world. These shepherds heard the sweetest tones in the world, tones that no other man in the world will likely ever hear. Not even a king.

What a blessing! Sometimes you have to wonder who the true kings in this world are!!

I do not intend to say that we should all become shepherds. But the lesson here is clear, that God is with those who are lowly of heart. Probably many of us need to come down from our high horses and lower ourselves a little bit more. And then we have the guarantee of receiving the true blessing from God, just He did to these humble shepherds.

[Below: There is no class difference with God]

Image5581

We Bring Life By Suffering – Part 2

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 11:30

At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus held a conversation with God that went like this: “God, I know you can do anything. Nothing is impossible with you. Please, Father, if there is another way that you can use to accomplish this without me going to the cross, please do it.”

You see, Jesus was as much flesh and blood as you and I, and the thought of hanging on that cross till He died was physically too much for Him. He knew the pain would be unbearable. The Bible says that He underwent such physical and emotional trauma that angels had to come and minister to Him.

But God’s answer to Him was typical: “My Son, it is true there is nothing that I cannot do. But this is the way that I have chosen. You have to suffer and die for the sins of my people. That is the only way acceptable to me.”

Now, the way we are, we want to know the ‘whys’ of things: ‘Why should this be this way?’, ‘Why shouldn’t it be this way?’ ‘Why, why?’ etc. Sometimes God provides us with answers, sometimes He does not. But that is not the important thing. The important thing is that if God has required something of us, we ought to obey because He knows what is best for us. That is faith.

When Jesus came to earth “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me”.  Heb 10:5.

A body. That is what God has prepared for us also. God has given to us a body to sacrifice. We are to give out bodies as a living sacrifice. It is a painful thing, but it is what we are called to. That is why we should desire the grace that God gave to the Early Church, which enabled them to endure that kind of sacrifice, because it is the only sacrifice acceptable to God.

We see that in the suffering of these men, the life of the Spirit came upon the Church. The Church shook the world. One of the most telling statements about how the Church affected the world then is found in Acts 17:6: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”!

We, too, will affect the world spiritually one way or another when we accept the sufferings of Christ in our lives. That is the grace we should desire and pray for.

I know what I am talking about because there was a time I used to spend hours praying for material blessings. I did not know God’s plan and purpose then. Now that by the grace of God I see (albeit dimly), I know what is God’s most important requirement for me. It is to desire His grace in my life.

Paul reached a place where he lived, not because of anything of this world he had, but by the grace of God alone. He says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

This was the result of someone who had accepted to suffer in the flesh. May the Lord help us also in this generation. The materialistic gospel being preached today is destroying all this, but the Lord will touch and raise the few who will accept to suffer and bring true life to the Church.

Abraham’s Instant Obedience – Part 2

We can also see Abraham’s heart when the three men, the angels of the Lord, visited him. The Bible says about Abraham that he was sitting outside his tent. The Bible does not say that he knew they were the angel of the Lord; all he saw were three men approaching. But it was what followed that shows us the character of a Godly man.

Let’s try and see what went on here. I imagine that Abraham saw some very tired-looking strangers passing by his home and his tender heart was touched. They certainly were not walking with ‘Angel of the Most High God’ written on their blazers. Abraham saw these men and he purposed to do something about it. But imagine this man, 99 years old, running to invite passersby, literally forcing them, to accept of his generosity! Abraham had a generosity that would leave many of us reeling with disbelief.

The Bible says that Abraham ran and that he and Sarah personally ministered to these visitors; and it was not your ordinary “Another cookie, please?” Back then, what he and Sarah prepared was a 5-course meal.

(With regard to this, I have a few families to thank. I wouldn’t forget my wife).

God is looking at the condition of our hearts. God is interested with the ease with which we can keep our hearts pure and holy before Him. Christians are forever harping about how God is interested in many other things in our lives. True, yes; but first things must come first. Mind you, God could give us those ‘other things’ without necessarily being pleased with us. But we are interested in what pleases the Lord.

Only by obeying God as Abraham did will we become towering men of faith and mature in character as Abraham was.

And, pray, what price are we willing to make that happen? What price are we willing to pay to make sure our hearts are pure before God and man, especially in today’s world with its many stumbling blocks? Once God grants us to know the price we need to pay in order to live that kind of lifestyle, then we will have known the true price of Christianity.

It is truly sad to see how proud Christians are today. They do many things, but they are not ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a given life. We must be willing to die to our pride and to ourselves!

And we must be swift to do it. We must be swift to release, quick to let go the things in our hearts that hinder us from pleasing the Lord.

Of necessity I find I often have to hit out at myself, “Don’t be stupid!” when I realize that my heart is deceptively moving towards a certain direction.

I want to run a different race. I want to run with father Abraham.

Recently a brother from a distant town called me on the phone and he began telling me about the problems that he has been having in his marriage. It was not the first time for me to hear about that particular couple; I heard about their troubles a long time ago and, being far, I had assumed everything worked out well eventually. Now he was telling me that nothing had changed and that, if anything, things just got worse between him and his wife.

This time, I knew exactly what to tell him. I felt he needed to hear the really Good News. I said, “Brother, if you are having a problem with someone, then the problem is not the other person, but you. Had you determined in your heart to not harbor problems, right now there would be no difficulty in your marriage regardless of what your wife is doing against you. You are taking too long to obey God!”

I assure you that I spoke those words with all the grace that the Lord had given me at that time.

We all have our job cut out for us.

I have a prayer in my heart. Maybe we all need to make this prayer. “Lord, deny me everything, but give me the swiftness that you gave to Abraham in heeding to your voice. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(You have the liberty of making this prayer without including the “deny me everything” part. That was just for me).

We Must Leave Our Comfort Zones!

When I was in Mauritius a few months ago I met – or, rather, I saw – a couple in church, a blind couple. I saw them in church one day from afar, wearing heavily dark glasses, and I felt threatened. I was glad I had spotted them from a distance and I purposed to keep it that way. I did not know what I would do with two blind people, so I decided the safest thing was to keep my distance. Whenever I walked into church I would keep my eyes peeled, just so I would not bump into them and be forced into a very compromising situation, and in church I always made sure I located them first so I would sit as far away from them as possible. Inevitably I would breathe a sigh of relief whenever I saw them safely packed into a car for the trip back to wherever they were staying.

God is merciful, and in His love He always takes us back to the Cross.

One day, a car stopped outside the house I was staying in. I was in my room upstairs and when I glanced down whom do I see being helped out of the car but the two blind folks! I stood frozen at the window, thoroughly petrified. I just could not believe it! My mind hurriedly told me they must have come for a quick lunch; but the thought was immediately snuffed out when I saw the couple who had brought them take out bags from the car boot. With a sinking feeling in my heart, I knew they had come to stay.

A nightmare of the worst proportions was unfolding right in front of my eyes. I seriously wished that that day should have been the day of my flight back home!

I stayed in my room for as long as possible; but soon enough I had to go down for lunch. Now, my host’s wife happened to be one of the best cooks I had ever met and meals in this house were something that I always looked forward to. She had introduced me to so many specialities. I especially enjoyed the dessert, which much of the time was chocolate ice- cream.

But on this particular day, my stomach felt tight and I did not feel hungry.

I sat at table with the visitors and my hosts. The man had removed his dark sunglasses and I could clearly see that he was totally blind. His partner wore hers and she appeared to be staring straight at me. I shifted uncomfortably on my seat, sure that she was looking straight into my rotten heart.

The lady of the house, the most cheerful woman I had ever seen, stood and made the introductions.

“Zakaria, meet Patrick! Meet Gina! These are our brethren from Reunion.”

Then she spoke to them in French, which I supposed was my introduction. They were looking my way and all of a sudden, they both flashed the brightest smiles I had ever seen. I smiled sheepishly back, not really understanding that they were seeing absolutely nothing. We shook hands and sat down for our lunch.

For many weeks I stayed with this blind couple. I slowly came to realize that these people were as normal as anyone else. In fact, we developed such an intimate relationship that whenever I would go to church, coming from wherever I had spent the day, my first thing was to seek them out and go greet them.

I would holler out: “Patrick!”, or “Gina!” (I could not speak any French, and Patrick and Gina hardly spoke English. Names were the only things we could properly do with each other.)

They would holler back, “Zakaria!”, all the time sporting their larger-than-life smiles. Then we would hug or shake hands. These were always intensely intimate moments.

Patrick knew a little English, though, and we used that to share our experiences. Whenever we were at home, Patrick loved having someone to talk with, and I was always willing, although it was very difficult. I came to know about his life, and even how he and Gina met.

Sometimes I would find one or both of them seated quietly on the sofa. After the customary hollering of each other’s names, I would ask them what they were doing.

“Just resting”, they would reply. “And listening.”

“Listening to what?” I would ask.

“To God.”

One day, I saw them both walking in town, just the two of them. I could hardly believe it! I had always thought they had to be driven to town, if they ever needed to go there. I watched in amazement as they walked closely bunched together, their white sticks hitting the concrete ahead of them. Curepipe is a pretty big town and I was simply unable to comprehend how they could know their way about, let alone avoid the traffic.

In the evening I asked Patrick all about it. He told me, “Zakaria, we always know where we are going. Today, for example, when you saw us, we were going to church; and we went and came back without incident. I know the direction to church and I simply follow the road.”

He then told me something very profound. He said, “Zakaria, I see things. I see on the inside. I can tell, for example, that such and such is a linen shop; or even a jewellery shop, without anybody telling me so. I can also tell exactly the distance a car is from where I am and even the speed it is travelling.”

Then he said, “I have had many experiences of real angels ministering to me. There are times when I want to cross the road – all is calm and I am sure there is no car coming – but suddenly I feel Someone physically holding me back. Then, just when I would have been crossing the road, a car comes roaring past; and I realize an angel of the Lord just saved my life.”

Soon – all too soon – the time for my flight home arrived. By then I had moved to another friend’s house, so I went to say goodbye to Patrick and Gina. It was an emotional farewell. We had become intertwined in our hearts. Poor me, I had not thought of leaving them a souvenir; but Gina walked purposely into her room and came out with possibly her most treasured possession – a bar of rare chocolate!

She said, “Zakaria, this is for you!”

Curepipe is damp and wet during winter. This incredibly wonderful blind couple had provided much of the light and warmth for me during my winter stay in Curepipe.

They had also taught me a valuable lesson. We love the comfort zone, but we will never know true comfort until we learn to lose our lives for others.Image