I mentioned that rainy season was about to begin here, and last Sunday that was proven correct in classic style. It was raining hard for the second day in a row with a chilly wind. Rainy days are always low attendance days at church. Who likes to get out of bed to trudge somewhere through the rain and muddy roads? We always hope that our church members have grown enough in grace that mud and chilly wet will mean nothing in comparison to being with believers and submitting themselves once again to hear the Word, but every rainy Sunday is another test.
This Sunday we had especially hoped for good attendance, as we were hoping to try a new tactic in the war for souls. We have several regular visitors who haven’t committed to following Christ, so we decided to start a 5-week prospective members class in the Sunday School hour just to target these folks and present salvation, baptism, and our church covenant in a clear manner. We had about ten people lined up for the first class, but our spirits were dampened by their apparent drowned attendance.
Then the other family (we only have one family besides our own in our church that includes husband, wife, and kids–and a car!) got their truck stuck in the mud on the road to church. It took an hour and a half to extract them. The situation became even stickier, or should I say muddier, when we noticed that they had brought first-time visitors with them on this rare Sunday. They were discouraged to have such a setback on the day their visitors came with them. We were worried to start a new class without all of our beloved prospects attending. And all the men were wet, cold, and muddy when we began the service.
Ita vita African. This truly could be an apt description of normal life in Africa. Some discouraging setbacks just when you were hoping to make a good impression; poor attendance for weeks at a time in the rainy season. But God was working all of those seemingly bad events to ordain a private evangelism meeting between me and one of the children in my Sunday School class.
When Mr. N__ got stuck in the mud and all the men and boys went to help, I (with my kids) was left alone with one sweet neighbor girl who has attended my S.S. class and Seth’s neighborhood Bible club all year. As I fiddled around setting up church stuff, she came to me and asked shyly, “How does a person go to Hell or to God?”
Because of the rain and the car stuck in the mud, I was given an uninterrupted fifteen minutes to show a tweenage girl The Great Exchange from 2 Corinthians 5:21. I love this verse. In English every word but one has one syllable. Yet it encompasses so much with those little words.
For he hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Praise the Lamb slain for sinners! Praise the Creator of the rain and mud who kept distractions away from a child He was busy pulling from the filth of a life lived for sin, at the same time as Seth was pulling a truck out of the mud. She seemed to respond to the Word in faith.
Obviously the mud didn’t save her. But in one sense, it did. God used it as a means to give this shy child one-on-one time with her teacher so that she could ask a very important question! Last Sunday, a child was saved by the blood, by the mud.
Seth and I also were saved by the mud in a sense. We were saved from discouragement and ingratitude over the lack of optimal conditions that day. We were reminded that God doesn’t need dry roads to do His work and that His plans are wiser than ours.
Once I heard a sermon by R.C. Sproul on 2 Samuel 6 when God struck Uzzah dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant so that it wouldn’t fall from the oxcart. I’ve never forgotten how Sproul mentioned that Uzzah’s error was in thinking that his hands were cleaner than the dirt. He thought it would be better for him to touch the ark–he, a sinful creature–than for the ark to fall in the dirt. But the dirt was doing what God made it to do. I thought of that Sunday–the mud was doing what God made it to do. I couldn’t be mad at the mud or at God for letting it rain on Sunday. He had a plan even for the mud; and it did what He made it to do, even being an instrument in God’s plan of redemption for a child.
When Mr. N__ finally arrived at church, embarrassed and a bit careworn, I greeted him happily. “You may think this was a bad day,” I said, “but I am glad you got stuck in the mud!”