Peter Stone : May 2004 Prayer Letter

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“Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear”

At 7:30 a.m. I was some how early enough to find one seat left in the back row of the bus that headed away from Bogota toward my school. I squeezed my way through the center aisle, and as I approached the back row I saw him sitting just in front of my seat on the opposite side. It was a vivid image of humility.

He was a poor man. At his feet was a sack of belongings. He wore a pale green, shabby, polyester coat. Fuzzy little balls covered it due to heavy wear. He wore a dirty baseball cap pulled down low over his brow. His scraggly black hair poked out from beneath his hat like straw sticking out from a scarecrow. He tilted his head back to see through his thick glasses. Deep grooves lined his weathered, leathery brown face. His hands impressed me the most. They were like leather gloves. His thick fingers were dried and cracked. They were scarred from years of extreme labor. However, the image was not only humble. It was also tender.

The hands that had endured such extremities were gently placed on the slight shoulders of his boy who sat on his lap. The boy must have been only 5 or 6, and the two parallel ligaments that run vertically from one’s back to one’s head protruded sharply from his thin little neck (notice them the next time you see a slender little boy sitting down). I imagined the early hour when the father wakened his sleeping son. The father dressed his son in the dark and led him to the bus stop. In the son’s drowsiness and vulnerability, he did whatever his father asked. As they waited for the bus that went out of town, I imagined the sleepy son leaning his head against his father’s waist. The boy trusted his father, and believed his father knew what was best. The boy was willing to wake at that early hour and do what his father asked of him. There could be nothing in the world, I thought, that was more sure than that little boy’s confidence in his father. And as I watched the father resting his hands on his boy’s shoulders, I was sure there was nothing in that man’s life that rivaled the treasure he found in his son.

I savored the picture from my seat. I was pondering a number of different spiritual applications represented by that scene as the bus bounced and rumbled down the highway, when suddenly the boy leaned back against his father, grimacing. Hurriedly the father pulled out a plastic bag. He held it up to his son’s mouth with two hands. The son vomited in the bag. When the son finished, his father held the bag closed with one hand and held his son close to his chest with the other. Tears streamed down the boy’s cheeks. It happened again. Then again. Then again. I counted five times. Each time, the father opened the bag and held it for the son. And each time he leaned over his son, who sat in his lap, and he whispered quietly in his son’s ear. With his thick, tough hand, he gently stroked his son’s head, back and shoulders. In between episodes, the son would lean back despairingly on his father’s chest, miserable and helpless. The father would kiss his son’s head and place his arm around him, wipe his mouth, and hold him close.

The image of that father and his son was shrouded in intimacy, vulnerability and trust. The son belonged to the father, and he trusted him. He went where his father asked him to go. He did what his father asked him to do. He acted according to the leading of his father. In his weakness, and in the midst of his miserable circumstances, he was content to sit on his father’s knee, confidently respond to his father’s simple instruction, and rest himself against his father’s breast.

The father, for his part, knew his son very well—well enough to understand his son’s tendencies and weaknesses. He was intimately acquainted with his son’s ways. There was a first time when there was no bag. And the father had to clean his son, and suffer the mess he made. But every time thereafter, he was prepared to give what was needed for his son.

There is no greater security than that of being known and intimately understood by one who accepts us unconditionally. There is no deeper love than when the beloved is known in his or her most undesirable moment, and yet still treasured and beheld as lovely by the lover. I was impressed by this reality as I watched the father care for and love his son.

How wonderful it is to be searched and known by Almighty God, as Psalm 139 teaches us, and still be chosen in spite of what He found in me. He watched with joy as I was forming inside my mommy. He easily discerns my every thought and intention, and is more familiar with all my ways than I am. There is nothing in me that is hidden from his eye. And so when my worst tendencies manifest themselves, and my greatest weaknesses seem to abound more than my will to obey, how great a gift God has given me in the assurance of his love! I Jn. 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment…” Could I dare see that father’s tender care for his despairing son as but a faint, distant shadow of the Heavenly Father’s profound love and care for me? Would I dare lean against His chest as He holds the bag, and let Him wipe my mouth and whisper lovingly to me? Do we dare to risk living honestly before God, in belief that we will still be loved? And do we dare to believe that His love is powerful enough to change in us that which is most unlovely? We must, for there is no other path to true obedience. “We love because He has first loved us.” –1 Jn. 4:19.

PRAYER POINTS:

* God is giving me tremendous opportunities for the Gospel with many different people. Please pray for grace to speak the Truth effectively.

* Please continue to pray for intimacy with the Father. Nothing else will sustain me as I struggle with adjusting to this new life and learning this new language.

Note to Supporters:

Please make support checks payable to NEM, write Peter Stone on the memo line, and send them to:

NEM
10600 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33165

Peter Stone
1803 North Hills Blvd.
Knoxville, Tn 37917
peterpaulstone@hotmail.com
(865) 522-2585

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