I used to believe in mentorships. That developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. I had such a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I relied upon this bond to teach me, protect me, and guide me at all times.
As a missionary, I was forced into being the mentor. Before João, I had seen how the Lord prepares those who are ready to receive Him, readying those who are waiting. I had already felt how the Lord had often seeded, watered, and cared for the field before my arrival. I was just the harvester.
But João was different. He was waiting, but he wasn’t ready. The steady smoking had bound him to a wheelchair years previous, the creaking wheels a constant static to our visits. The acrid stench of smoke persistently hovered in the air and nostrils, leaving a stale tang in my mouth. I watched as the light refracted from his tear-moistened eyes as he explained how he could never abandon cigarettes.
“I wish I could, but I’ve tried to quit before,” he stroked the yellow tar stains in his otherwise gray-streaked white beard, “it never made any difference.”
My tongue faltered. How does someone respond to something like that?
Drawn into his eyes, I pleaded with the Lord to touch his understanding. Please, change him. He wants to change. I needed Him to act on my behalf—to teach where I was afraid to.
But God is in His heavens, and I was the one in front of João.
“But this time, God sent us to help you.”
God couldn’t walk the two miles to his house. But I could. He wouldn’t plan steps specifically tailored to help João succeed or daily require an accounting. But I would. H e couldn’t hold João’s hand as he lay in a hospital bed suffering the effects of withdrawal at age 65. But I did. And I saw as the Lord slowly reached into his heart, softening it into acceptance of my actions.
Father taught me in my youth so that one day I could work with Him in bringing balm for His children’s suffering. Although I couldn’t work the miracle, I could be a means whereby it was performed.
Partners are people who agree to share responsibility for achieving some specific goal. Instead of working through me, the Lord worked with me to carry forth His plan.
I used to believe in mentorships; now I believe in partnerships.
~ Rebecca Wadsworth, Orem, Utah