Have you ever watched the teeming crowds of people at a popular tourist attraction? From Disneyland, to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, to London’s Trafalgar Square, to countless other destinations?
Or, have you ever been stuck in traffic for hours on end wondering where in the world all of these people could possibly be going, and what drama was playing out in each of their lives?
Does it astound you that God knows each of those individuals intimately—right down to the number of hairs on each head? Or that there is nowhere we can go that He is not present?
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:7-12
There are concepts that should astound us—truths that should revolutionize our lives. How often we forget that the Creator of all that is stands ready to help us, and he knows our issues before we even think to ask.
Even before a word is on my tongue behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:4
Throughout the journey from Brussels to Rotterdam Darlene continued taking authority over the fear that kept trying to overwhelm her. As she focused on the LORD and listened for his voice, she heard Him say over and over, “When you get to Rotterdam I will be a shield around you,” and he instructed her to “Go quickly to the first hotel you see.” Arriving at midnight, and making their way through crowds of people who appeared to be strung out on drugs, the friends were grateful for His promised protection.
The next day, arriving in Amsterdam, they went immediately to the phones to call YWAM, where lodging arrangements had been made. Joan had difficulty with the phone and ran out of change, so she left to get some while Darlene watched their luggage. A young man exited the next train and approached the phone where she waited—a young man quite different than the two thugs who’d attacked them the previous day. This one, a guitar slung over his shoulder and dressed all in black, looked like he had just stepped out of a magazine advertisement in his turtleneck, leather pants and boots. He had trouble with the phone too and, as he moved to the next one, a second man approached him. Darlene’s immediate thought was “drugs,” and she wanted to warn him but heeded the LORD’s still small voice saying that he could take care of himself; so she quietly prayed and observed. There was a brief interaction in which the young man related to the other with a kindness such as Darlene had never seen, smiling at him and even shaking his hand as he moved away.
She felt impressed that it would be safe to talk to this man, and he seemed to be having some difficulty reaching someone, so she said, “Nobody home?” He just smiled and answered that he was trying to contact his business partner. Further conversation revealed that his name was Marcel and he had recently closed down his furniture business in Canada, where his family still resided—he even confided that his family was dysfunctional. Being of Middle Eastern/European descent, he had returned to Europe and had been vacationing in Spain; but due to an airline strike, he was stranded for awhile, ran out of money, and ended up having to sleep out on a beach with some other guys the previous night. Somehow he’d managed to get to Amsterdam, and said he wouldn’t mind staying there for awhile. Darlene mentioned that the man who’d approached him could have been dangerous and warned him to be careful. Again he smiled, and reassured her that he knew what these guys were all about. She then suggested that he could earn some money singing, and he responded that he wasn’t worried about the money.
Joan returned, and eyed Marcel suspiciously as Darlene introduced them and suggested that perhaps he could help them find the place they were supposed to go since he seemed to be familiar with the area. He knew exactly where it was and walked with them, carrying Joan’s luggage for her. At one point Joan needed to do another errand and Darlene was waiting with Marcel when the LORD prompted her to tell him what had happened the previous evening. Initially, she resisted because she was still trying to process her feelings. But God can be persistent, and finally she turned to Marcel and asked if he if he was a Christian. He became animated at that and replied, “Yes, and God has delivered me from many things.” Then he began explaining to her the love of God and she was amazed at his knowledge and maturity. When she complemented him he said that his father had taught him, and that he had been invited to minister in many places around the world. When she told him of the assault in Amsterdam he expressed concern and inquired about their well-being, and then added, “Possibly what Joan has experienced and learned will be necessary for her for another time.” He then said emphatically, “Faith requires application!” But then it suddenly seemed as if he was in another place as he said, “Yes, I remember one time when there was a crowd and my life was in danger, so I just pushed my way through the crowd and walked away from them”. Darlene asked if he’d been afraid and he replied, “No, because I put my eyes on Him and they couldn’t touch me.”
When Joan returned, the three continued walking along together. The conversation flowed easily and Marcel paid a lot of attention to Joan, encouraging her as she recounted her memories of the attack. When they finally reached YWAM, Joan went inside to make the arrangements, and Darlene realized she was very hungry. Taking out her granola, she offered him some to Marcel and he gratefully accepted, saying he hadn’t eaten since yesterday. He then added that he’d shared God with the guys on the beach, but they wouldn’t listen—they were just into partying.
Joan returned and told them they were staying at the other YWAM base, so they walked on, still accompanied by Marcel. Along the way, Darlene heard the LORD say, “I want you to give him some money.” Not a prompting she was comfortable with—“Uh, Lord, I don’t give men money.” But He was persistent, “I want you to give him some money. Give him whatever Dutch currency you have. And don’t worry; I have more where that came from.” Finally arriving at their destination, they checked in and Darlene fumbled through her bag to get her money out. As she handed it to him, the lady at the desk looked at her like she was crazy but she said “Here—the Lord told me to give you this.” He insisted that it wasn’t necessary but she told him that she knew what it was like to be without, adding that the LORD had taught her how to walk in faith and had prospered her so she could bless others. He kissed her on both cheeks, saying “Thank you. You are very blessed, and if you no longer need me I’ll be on my way.” As he turned to leave he assured them both, “You are safe here.”
As the ladies went to their room they marveled at the encounter with Marcel. Darlene couldn’t comprehend how he could sleep on the beach and still look like a fashion plate with shiny boots and expensive clothes. She said to Joan, “Who was that guy?” And Joan replied, “I knew there was something strange about him; but something extraordinary.” Darlene added that as Marcel left the building she’d felt led to go look out the door to see which way he was going but he was gone—nowhere in sight. And immediately she remembered the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus who were talking to Jesus but didn’t recognize him.
To this day Darlene is not sure who the LORD sent to them that day, but she and Joan often reminisce saying; “Did not our heart burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32)