Meeting the General

The challenges of doing God’s work meet the rewards of seeing Him work.

I started my morning with a much longer prayer time than usual.  After meeting many difficulties in applying for our residency in a Middle Eastern country, my wife and I had been told that it might be possible for us to apply that day for a six-month temporary residence card if we presented ourselves at the immigration office.

But our situation was uniquely complicated; we knew that a technicality on her passport would likely deny any request my wife made now for residency. Our stay in the country was at risk. I didn’t know where to turn except for God’s direct intervention.

At the immigration office, we carefully filled out all the paperwork and waited nervously.  The lady behind the window who finally called our number was efficient.   She quickly processed my request.  But she hesitated when she picked up my wife’s passport.  As we feared, none of my explanations satisfied her questions.  She waved us away with a mumbled, “You go see a general.”

It was just what we had hoped wouldn’t happen.  My heart pounded.  I breathed a quick prayer.  Someone showed us to a back office at the end of a long hall where I found myself hesitantly greeting a rather young man sitting at a large desk.  He smiled and confirmed,  “I am the general.”   As he took our passports, he cheerfully told us he was studying English and hoping to serve soon in the Peace Corps.  He didn’t ask why we’d been sent to him.

After a few minutes of paperwork, he stood up and announced “It’s all done.  Come back tomorrow for your residence cards.”  Even in the midst of my surprise and relief, I felt a nudge by the Holy Spirit.  Without saying anything, I quickly wrote down my number on a scrap piece of paper and handed it to him, telling him that if he ever wanted to meet and practice English, I would be more than glad to visit.

Later that same day he messaged that he had finished our residency cards early and we could come immediately and pick them up.  The relief that had replaced our frustration and worry gave way to our amazement.  God had smoothed the way, and so quickly!  What’s more, we soon realized He had even more in mind than our own problems.

The general and I have kept in touch.  We talk often and have met together several times as well.  We enjoy conversations about life and the values we share.  As his English is improving, our friendship is growing and God’s opportunities are unfolding before me.

But those are small benefits next to the privilege of watching God use every circumstance to accomplish His purpose.  We had approached Him with our great need because we were blocked by the challenges of doing His work, and in answering our prayer He connected us to the very purpose of our work.