“Dear Friends: God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper. But do not worry about the wrappings for you can be sure that inside He has hidden treasures of love, kindness and wisdom. If we will simply take what He sends and trust Him for the blessings inside, we will learn the meaning of the secrets of His providence, even in times of darkness.” A.B. Simpson from Streams in the Desert
This is exactly what I experienced today….a “Stream in the Desert” (Isaiah 43:19) in a most unusual place through a most unusual man named John.
It was time for my first ever lymphatic drainage massage which I had heard could be quite invading and somewhat uncomfortable. I still have not been able to find an infrared sauna which is a very important part of my treatment. I just continue to pray that I can find one in this unfamiliar town. I left an hour before my appointment to make sure that I could find the Massage Institute that boasted on the internet that they specialized in this special type of massage therapy. As I drove up to the building, I immediately became anxious and uncomfortable. Let’s just say that it was not in the best part of town. Some would even describe the neighborhood I was in as “The Hood.” The building itself was made of dark, dingy, dirty metal, not at all like the white, crisp, shiny, clean image that I had in my mind.
I was rather early. So I circled back to a parking lot on the more visible and less threatening main street. I began to pray, “Lord, lead me. Lord, protect me. Lord, is this the place? Lord, warn me if it is not. Lord, I’m trusting You!”
Still needing to wait another fifteen minutes, I decided to check my emails on my phone. My daily devotion from Rick Warren was waiting in my inbox. As I read the opening sentences that said, “Life with God is an adventure. All we have to do is TRUST God,” I literally laughed out loud! I thought to myself, “This is an adventure, for sure!!!” Since I had just said those exact words, ‘Lord, I’m trusting You,’ I knew I had to go with Him on this adventure!”
As I cautiously walked in, I was greeted by John who I learned would be my therapist. Again, John was not the very in shape, fit, young woman in a white uniform that I had pictured in my mind. Instead, he was a middle aged, not in great shape MAN with a braid that hung down the middle of his back to his waist. I VERY cautiously followed him into the treatment room. I nervously sat in the old, dark room and answered each and every question about my illness, treatment to date and my expectations for this appointment. I wanted to whisper to John, “This is not anything like I was expecting!”
Then John, in his very quiet and calming voice, began to tell me about himself. These are the words that I will always remember him saying, “I love the Lord with all my heart, and I hope that He will use the gift of my hands to help heal people!” Did he just say what I thought he just said? I immediately knew…This was exactly where I was supposed to be. John was exactly the person that would help me heal, and he was my “gift wrapped in unattractive paper!”
John spent almost two hours gently and meticulously massaging all the many, many lymph nodes in my entire body and patiently made sure to do perform the treatment just right with the exact amount of pressure for the best healing results. Again as A.B. Simpson so wisely describes above, John was a “hidden treasure of love, kindness and wisdom.”
Half way through my treatment, John asks if I have ever considered using an infrared sauna to help with the detox of my body. I told him that I had looked and looked and looked but had not been able to find one. Again, in his very calm and soothing voice, he replied, “We have one here you can use.” My eyes popped open and my mouth almost hit the floor. It is not like every business on every corner just happens to have an infrared sauna lying around. As a matter of fact, I had searched and called about twenty who had not even heard of such a thing. Again, it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that inside this very unassuming building that the world would discount as nothing, God had sent me an amazing “gift of blessing” and taught me a lesson about “His providence, even in times of darkness.”
But then again, isn’t that always His way!