If you know my family at all you know that I am “Exhibit A” of God’s lavish grace. The fact that I out-married myself was evident long before the vows were exchanged. I still am amazed at God’s goodness to me in giving me Donna as my wife. My love for her has deepened through the years and been strengthened through the joys and sorrows of raising six children together. Sometimes when I look at my family and begin to trace the lines of God’s grace in each one’s life, I am overwhelmed. The only explanation is the sovereign grace of a God who delights in pouring it out on those who deserve the opposite.
It’s because I know this is true that I experienced such cognitive and emotional dissonance from what happened to one of my daughter’s more than four years ago. Sarah is my firstborn, and has been precocious from birth. When the Lord subdued her heart by drawing her savingly to Christ, He began molding and shaping her at-times-larger-than-life personality for gospel purposes. Five years ago, He began to lead her to go work among a Muslim people group. Four and a half years ago, after months of counsel by her elders and encouragement from her church, followed by intensive training, she got on an airplane in Ft. Myers, Florida and headed for the land that would be her home for the next two years.
After a two week stop in Dubai for arrangement of last minute details, Sarah boarded her final flight to the most spiritually oppressive city I’ve ever visited. Before that plane touched down she was sexually assaulted in flight by a man from the very people group among whom she was going to live. One of the most unreached people groups in the world. A people group our church had adopted for the purpose of working to get the gospel to them.
Today Sarah decided to start sharing her story surrounding that dark time in her life. By God’s grace, she has learned (and continues to learn) how to process it redemptively; that is, in the light of a crucified, risen Savior. It’s a process that her mom, dad and siblings have had to learn (and continue to learn) as well.
Sarah did not confide in me about what happened until many months after the fact. The depth and range of emotions that swept over me are indescribable. Sarah was 8000 miles away. The perpetrator was unknown and impossible to find. He belongs to a people group blinded by Islam. A people group I had been studying and for whom I had been praying. A people group to whom I had sent my firstborn for the sole purpose of making Christ known.
One of the best pieces of counsel I have ever received is not to doubt in the darkness what God has taught me in the light. God’s Word is still true when it doesn’t seem true. And God is still good when His goodness seems absent. He is “too wise to be mistaken and too good to be unkind.” All the time. Even when evil is unleashed on someone you love more than life and whom you want to protect but cannot.
I encourage you to follow Sarah’s posts as she takes the next few weeks to unfold gospel lessons the Lord has been teaching her over the last four and a half years. She is both a trophy and instrument of His great grace. Though my heart broke over what she had to endure, I’m rejoicing in the grace of God that is working in her life as she lives for him with growing passion and renewed freedom day by day.