Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I should be in India, but...

I should be in India right now.  It's been the plan for many months.  God clearly called me to join this mission team. 

However, on Friday night, we discovered that my passport had disappeared!  It apparently escaped from the top left drawer at church, abandoning its teammates (everyone else's passports) in pursuit of a solo adventure. 

I'm thinking while being in that drawer, it must have overheard lots of conversations and been privy to some pretty cool info about upcoming youth events.  You know like the next "DESTINATION UNKNOWN" event!  (Our youth leaders plan a fun outing for the students, but the students have no idea where they are going until they get there.) The excitement and anticipation must have been too much.  Unable to contain itself, my passport decided to leave the comfort and safety of that drawer and head for "Destination Unknown" a wee bit early.  If only it had left a trail or a few clues behind.  If only...

But then I would have missed all that God is doing through this circumstance! 

Let's start with a true confession.

For over 12 years, I've been praying for joy, and the Lord has faithfully & abundantly answered. True joy cannot be contained. It's demonstrative and must be expressed.  Personally, when I'm filled with joy, I cannot help but be (spiritually) sensitive and attentive to the people God puts in my path because I want them to experience His joy (along with His love, forgiveness & peace) too.  Genuine joy opens my eyes and heart and allows me to see divine opportunities all around me and to make the most of them.

But when joy is absent, selfishness is there to take its place. 

For nearly 2 years now, the enemy of my soul has been in hot pursuit of my joy.  Indeed he comes "only to steal and kill and destroy" John 10:10.  Unfortunately, he has gained more ground than I care to admit (in regards to my joy.)  It's been a real struggle. A fierce battle at times, especially recently.

BUT GOD has used my passport situation to regain an abundant measure of my joy! ONLY GOD!

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are My ways higher than your ways
    and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

To some, what I'm saying must sound crazy.  Actually, without God, it would be crazy.  Really crazy.  But with Him, it's real and it's amazing!

AMEN! - Toby Mac posted this on Facebook Sunday and it just made me laugh!

I have been OVERWHELMED by God's presence and peace these past few days!  Oh and the prayers!  Powerful and persistent prayers!  THANK YOU PRAYER WARRIOR FRIENDS for all of your prayers!  What strength, peace and joy they have brought.

It's not possible for me to share every single thing God has done and revealed since Friday - it would simply be too much.  So let's see if I can make a list that makes sense (without writing a novel!)

1)  I got the call about my missing passport around 9:30pm Friday night.  As I am processing and praying, there is a knock at our door at 10:42pm.  When I opened the door, there stood our neighbor, exhausted & on the verge of panic because he had lost his cell phone.  I just laughed!  The Lord has such a sense of humor!  He sent the lost cell phone to seek help from the lost passport!  ONLY GOD!

Our neighbor was so distraught because he had an 11 hour road trip in front of him and really needed his phone.  Shawn & I were able to help him find it.  Then God gave us the opportunity to pray with our neighbor before his trip! This is HUGE!  We have been praying FOR our neighbor for 5 years, and here we were holding hands in his front yard praying WITH him!  A divine appointment orchestrated by a lost cell phone.  The Lord's lesson:  He uses lost things to save & redeem things, to answer prayers, and to impact eternity in ways we could never imagine!

2)  As soon as I knew my passport was missing, I reached out to my prayer warrior friends. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for these women who encourage me and pray God's Word specifically for me!  And there is nothing more true than God's Word.

3)  With lots of initial thoughts, emotions & possible scenarios to sort through on Friday night, I stayed up really late talking to the Lord.  I prayed very specifically about my passport at 2:00am and was about to turn off my computer when I felt prompted to check Pinterest for a few minutes before heading to bed.  When I clicked on Pinterest, this is what I saw...

That pretty much sums it up!  ONLY GOD!

4)  In preparation to minister in India, our team had to be able to share 3 Bible stories in detail, from memory.  As a team, we practiced doing this with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego.  For my other 2 stories, the Lord impressed upon me to study the woman at the well and the woman who washed Jesus' feet with perfume so I could use them to reach out to women.

Friday afternoon before I knew about my passport, I was praying for our trip and asking God about specific ways I could minister to my team and to the people we would meet.  He overwhelmingly revealed that He wanted me to reach out to women and how. 

Saturday morning (after I knew about my passport), we had a conference call for our upcoming Uganda trip.  Our team leader Kim shared some of the ministry opportunities that she is working on for our team.  Several of them include working with teenage girls & women! And some of the specifics she shared were EXACTLY what God had laid on my heart the day before!  What I thought was for India, God was actually preparing me to use/do in Uganda!  As well as RIGHT HERE AT HOME THIS WEEK!  ONLY GOD!

Saw this on my cousin's fb page on Sunday too! It put a smile on my face :)

5)  At church on Sunday morning, Pastor Jeff told us to turn in our Bibles to Ephesians 2.  When I grabbed my Bible, it opened to Daniel 3 - the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!  Instantly, the words of these 3 godly men came to mind..."the God we serve is able to save us....but even if He does not...."   That's right!  The God I serve is able to reveal the location of my passport so I can go to India.  But even if He does not, I will trust Him and accept His sovereign plan! 

"And without faith it is impossible to please God...."  Hebrews 11:6

6)  It has ignited an intense time of prayer for me.  All weekend long, the Lord continuously prompted me to keep praying and not give up.  He called me to fast & pray and keep looking for my passport.  On Saturday night when my faith was starting to waiver, the doorbell rang.  God sent Susan Habbick to my house to pray with me (even with her van full of groceries that needed to get home!)
Don't you want this Praying Princess Warrior on your side??!!!

7) The Lord used my missing passport to inspire me to blog again.  It's been 2 years since my last public post.  He began giving me the words for what I'm writing now on Sunday morning.  As I thought about blogging again, I thought about the title of my blog and what it truly means to be an "oak of righteousness" that displays His splendor. 

At lunch on Sunday, Shawn read this quote to me from the Coffee News..."When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that OAKS GROW STRONG IN CONTRARY WINDS and diamonds are made under pressure."  Peter Marshall 

So I'm choosing to believe that my missing passport is really a growth spurt for this ole' oak in pursuit of righteousness!

8)  When I walked out the door to go to church Sunday morning, there was a PRAYING MANTIS on our front door frame!  Of course there was!!!  Talk about being covered in prayer!  Too funny :)

9)  If I really believe that God is sovereign, then my actions will reflect my belief. From the moment I learned my passport was missing until we dropped the team off at the airport, I sensed the Lord wanting me to be completely packed & ready to go as if I had my passport in hand. He wanted my actions to match my words. 

It’s one thing to know (intellectually) that God is sovereign.  But it’s another thing to live like you believe He is sovereign in the midst of unexplainable circumstances. The God I serve is ABLE to reveal the location of my passport so I can go to India. But even if He does not, I will trust Him and accept His sovereign plan - with my bags packed & ready to go.

10) "What ifs" can drive us nuts if we let them.  We want to know WHY.  We want things to make sense to us.  So when I think about the details surrounding my missing passport and the timing of it all, a litany of possible reasons why God may have stopped me from going to India on Sunday come to mind.  Initially, my thoughts centered around protection.  But pretty quickly, they turned to other things, positive things, bigger things, kingdom things. 

What if it was for the people I’ve had to talk to while trying to get a new passport?  Sharing Jesus with them flows right from how my passport was lost.    

What if it was so Johnny, our senior youth pastor, would be prompted to check his own passport on Saturday, only to discover it had expired back in April?!!  Now he has time to renew it before leading a mission trip to Costa Rica in a couple of weeks!  ONLY GOD!     

What if it was so I could be with Tanner this morning when he got his braces off after 3 ½ years?

What if it was to increase my desire & determination to go to India and minister to the people there – at a different time, on a different trip? 

What if it was for all of these things and many, many more?  Only the Lord truly knows the reasons.  But here’s what I do know for certain…the Lord is calling me to trust Him and to walk in complete faith and obedience according to His Word – with JOY and with or without answers - wherever I'm at.

On the way to the airport with the ladies on the team (minus Faith - she's at home with me :)

And make no mistake about it, I'm still a part of this India team.  I'm just playing a different role now.  While my teammates' feet are on Indian soil, my knees will be on American soil covering them in prayer.  It's a win/win :)  God is good and ALWAYS faithful!

P.S.  I cannot believe I forgot to mention this.  Thankfully, the Lord brought it to mind this morning (6/25.)  After we dropped the team off at the airport, I was a little emotional.  I got back in the van and told Shawn I was not going to cry because I had to go take a picture for my new passport.  But then, at that exact moment, the Lord played a very special song for me on the radio..."How He Loves" by Dave Crowder!  Such a precious, precious gift to me!  Oh how He loves us!!!  And yes, I did cry - humble, happy tears.  I will remember this gift from Him every time I look at my new passport picture :)

Loving HIM with all my heart,

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