“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
– Romans 8:26
From 1990 – 1994 when I was working full-time in Youth Ministry, we took 15 or more High School Students and their advisors on a mission trip to Mexico during every spring break. Those were some of the most enjoyable times in my life when all of the preparation and hard work came together as students engaged in construction projects, led Vacation Bible Schools, conducted worship services, and met some very practical local needs. But they weren’t without their challenges and obstacles.
One year as we were traveling south on Interstate 5 near the Gorman exit, already 3 hours from home with many hours left to reach the Mexican border, I looked in my rear-view mirror at one of our vehicles that was following behind me. It was a virtually brand-new Chevy Suburban. What I saw in the mirror next did not look good. A large puff of blue smoke blew out from beneath the engine and the driver-owner named John, pulled the vehicle to the side of the road. Shortly after I got my vehicle off at the Gorman exit another one of our vehicles pulled up that had been following the Suburban to tell me that the transmission on the Suburban was blown. There was no way this vehicle was going to get us the rest of the way without a week’s worth of work in the shop.
After a number of phone calls we found a friend in the Los Angeles area who had an extra vehicle, a Mercedes Benz no less, that we could use for the rest of our trip. Wow, when God provides, he provides with style! But as we stood in a circle now to pray before we continued our trip, the driver of the Suburban said he would need to stay back to make sure his Suburban was properly fixed during the week we would be in Mexico. That was not what I wanted to hear. But here is the back story.
He had come to Christ in the last couple of years after a long time in the drug culture. He in fact had been a user and also a drug dealer. Coming to Christ for him was a wonderful story of God’s work and redemption. And I knew that he really needed to see all that God was going to do around him and to him and through him during that week in Mexico. I was devastated that he would not be continuing with us.
During that time of prayer, he was the person to my left who was holding my hand, and in a rare and mysterious moment, without any forethought of my own I said to him, “No John, you are going with us. God can take care of your vehicle. You are needed in Mexico.” Now John was very fond of his Suburban, so I was very surprised when he said, “Ok. Although I’m really worried about my vehicle, I’ll trust that it will be taken care of while I’m with the team in Mexico.”
I didn’t know what had thoroughly convinced him so quickly and easily to leave his truck and “follow Christ” into Mexico until our next stop at the Magic Mountain exit in Valencia where we picked up our extra vehicle. John came up to me there and said, “Pastor Ken, did you know that when we were holding hands and praying back in Gorman and you told me that I was going with the group and not staying behind, that your hand in mine was absolutely red hot when you said those words? I was blown away and had no choice but to follow your instructions, God’s instructions.” I had no idea that God had moved not only through my words, but also through a ‘red-hot’ touch.
The Lord totally fulfilled his plan for John during that week, and almost every time I looked in his direction there was a great big huge smile on his face.God had worked in and through our weakness, a blown transmission and blown plans, to fulfill his own plans in John’s life and ours, in amazing ways.Thank you, Lord Holy Spirit, for working in and through us at all times, but especially when we think everything has been blown apart. Instead, you are working everything out in your own perfect ways!