LOST IN VERONA, ITALY
STEPS LED OF GOD
By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
God has burned this word into my heart and spirit today. It's a bit long, but read anyway.
I’m notorious for getting lost. Yes, I’ve done the corn maze. I got lost in there, too. Go ahead, laugh at me.
When I’m outside the country, I like to blend in. I can see you rolling your eyes, those of you who have traveled with me. I can hear you even through social media, “Seriously? Give it up, you will never blend in!” Hey, I still try.
Regardless, I’m constantly getting lost here and abroad. Furthermore, I rarely take tours. I love the adventure of finding the sights on my own. It's a bit challenging when I don’t speak their language, but someone is always ready to help me.
Yes, people, I got lost in Verona, Italy. I wanted to go to Juliet’s Tomb. Juliet’s Balcony was challenging, but Juliet's Tomb took a couple of hours of walking to find it. But, I found it! I love the thrill, and so the more challenging, the better.
On my way to find Juliet’s Tomb, I saw countless churches. I couldn’t go by. I stopped at every single church there was. Yes, dozens. I went inside every single church, not just in Italy. Then I came to the last church before Juliet’s Tomb. I walked in, but this time, I went to the altar. I sat on a pew and spent some time in prayer as my colleague waited patiently at the back for me.
I was praying for a while like I had forgotten my mission of going to Juliet’s Tomb. Then as I went to leave the altar, my eyes fell on this gentleman sitting in a pew to my left and praying. I felt God tell me to go tell him something. The words He gave me didn’t make sense to me. I was arguing with God in my mind, “God, I don’t know what this word that You're giving me means. I don’t know this man, I can’t just walk to him and say that. Please, send someone else.”
I just kept on walking until I got to the last pew. Then my legs began to hurt. I couldn’t walk anymore. I had no choice but to sit at the last row, I couldn’t walk. I kept trying to get up but I fell back down. I got a bit nervous. I was asking myself "What is going on?" I wasn't kneeling at the altar. I had just been sitting there. Since there was nobody in the church, I was sitting very comfortably. In other words, my legs weren’t crossed. There was no reason for this to happen.
In my spirit, I kept hearing, “Go to that man and tell him what I told you.” My response remained the same, “God, I don’t know that man, he will think I’m crazy. Please don’t make me go.” But my legs wouldn’t allow me to get up to walk. Finally, I said “Ok, God, I will go deliver this message. But, I beg you, please, please, please don’t make me look crazy.”
I got up and this time my legs were normal. So I knew God wasn’t going to make me leave that church without talking to that man. My legs felt like running over to him now.
I walked over to him. My heart beating so fast, I had to take deep breaths when I got there. The man had his eyes closed. He never saw me coming. In fact, I stood there for a few seconds before I tapped him on his shoulder. He opened his eyes, startled. He just looked at me. I spoke to him in Italian. I asked if he spoke Italian, too. He gave me a strange look like: we are in Italy, what language do you think I would speak? His eyes were so intense. I knew I had disturbed his prayer. But, I ignored that. I had a message and I had to deliver it. Even if I had no idea what it meant.
I told him, "Please do not think I’m crazy, but God will not let me leave this church without telling you this. I literally cannot walk. I tried to leave but my legs became paralyzed. God just isn’t going to make me leave until I tell you what He told me to tell you. I don’t know what it means, but here is what He told me to tell you." I told him the message, and his entire face became white, his lip began to quiver, and he began to cry.
I stood there in shock. I wanted to cry. My crying though wasn’t because of pain. Rather from embarrassment before God. I was asking God for forgiveness for disobeying Him, for trying to leave when He told me to do something.
I didn’t ask any questions. I delivered that message, turned around, and left the church. I don’t even know that man’s name. To this day, I have no idea what that was all about. However, his face I will never forget. His intense look into my eyes as I spoke those words, and the tears streaming like a river coming down his face. The man thanked me. He composed himself enough to say, “Sei un Angelo, Grazie.” (You’re an Angel, thank you.) This scene is permanently engraved in my mind.
"Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?"
This verse speaks something important. Let me explain. What jumped up at me was, “Man cannot understand His ways.” You see, we don’t understand our own way, period. It’s hard and humbling to admit and acknowledge that we aren’t not always understanding everything. We don’t always know upfront why God is leading us to certain people and places. But, I promise you, it’s with intent and purposes. If we say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” This means we must move out of our own way and be led of God.
We must understand that it is wisdom that acknowledges His sovereignty. God is omniscient and omnipresent. Mind-blowing as it is, it means He knows everything. From beginning to end. He is certainly aware of the past, present, and future. We have no idea about the future. This is why we feel lost at times. We want to know about tomorrow, and what will happen five years, ten years, or twenty years from now. We cannot know that information. We must trust God to work every single situation for our best and for His glory.
We must clearly understand, God orders our steps. Our footsteps are preordained. There are no accidents. Our steps have purpose. They have meaning. They have destiny. This trip came up on Facebook memories today. I was reminded of my Verona, Italy trip again. This time in a different way.
In my sense of adventure to find Juliet’s Tomb, my steps were led into that church because there was a man in there praying. He was asking God for something. God, for whatever the reason, used me to be His mouthpiece and deliver His special Word to that man.
God, by his grace, stopped me from leaving that church without accomplishing the reason why he had brought me there to begin with. It was none of my business to know what the word meant. I only had to obey and deliver it.
Trying to find Juliet’s Tomb was difficult. It wasn’t on a well-traveled road. I had to go behind alleys and streets that were untraveled. I had to go behind the major highways and well-accessed streets to get to it. But, on this road was that church. On this road was where I was needed.
Most importantly, it was on this road that God showed me that He wasn’t going to tolerate disobedience. Today, I’m ordained and licensed as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine if God allowed me to walk out of that church. I would not be fit for the Kingdom of God. It’s that simple, it’s that true.
In closing, there’s another story of another man who was told where to go and what to do. Please read it with me. "Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Here I am, Lord.' So the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.' Then Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.' But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.' And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.'" -Acts 9:10-18
Do you still think that God doesn’t lead people? God leads. As scary as it must feel or seem, we must always obey. The supernatural doesn’t happen in the comfort and pleasant zones. The miraculous, incredible, and unbelievable happens only in the steps that are ordered by God that are scary, uncertain, and less traveled.
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