...Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...

Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Journal Entry from Dingle

A few weeks ago I took a little break from everyday life in Dingle, County Kerry. I can confidently say it is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I found myself a "spot" where I sat every day to talk to God, read the Word, and just be. I wrote this journal entry within the first hour of being in Dingle. While its quite personal in content, I believe it carries a few lessons that are good for all to be reminded of. I pray it blesses you as my time in Dingle so greatly blessed me. I pray you find joy and contentment with wherever you are in life.

I'm sitting here looking out on Dingle Harbour, taking in the majesty that is God's creation. There are no words. I've never choked up at being somewhere new. But tears prick at the back of my eyes as I look out over the calm water and green hills of this place. The Kerry mountains loom through the fog to the south as sheets of rain move out to sea. Mount Eagle basks in the sun to the north, the light and shadow exaggerating every ridge and crevice. Seagulls call out as they swoop over the water, and then all I hear is the quiet lapping of the current, the water slowly making its way out to sea.
I don't cry because I'm traveling alone and would love being here with my lover. I don't cry because I may never see this place again. (Although those would both be sufficient reasons to cry). I cry because I'm so full of joy for having been able to see this place, to have this experience.
I cry because God has revealed an inch of His beauty in creating this place, and He has allowed me to see it. He has chosen to put me right here to be with Him and have a glimpse of His glory. That is worth all the tears in the world. Tears of joy, gratitude, and awe. Tears you cry when you're so in love that you think your heart will burst if it gets any fuller.
I wish I could say that all that love is for God. But I must admit that some of it is for this land. As much as I adore Eire and wish I could stay forever, that is reason enough to go. I cannot let this place become my idol. I must praise God with my whole heart.
I don't want to go. But God knows the plans He has for me. He will use me wherever I go. If I'm meant to come back, He will make a way.
But for now, I will resolve to soak it all in - not just Dingle, not just this country, but my God. I will soak Him up, breathe in His Holy Spirit, and be filled with my Lord.

Just one incredible view from my "spot"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A "Brother Andrew" Moment

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows." 
James 1:17

My friend Sarah recently lent me a book called "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew. Its a true story of how a Dutchman smuggled thousands of Bibles behind the Iron Curtain through God's guidance and provision. There are many accounts in the book of times when Andy needed money or supplies and no way of getting it. In every one of those instances, God provided. In the Christian community we hear stories like that all the time: "I needed $17.35 and there was exactly $17.35 in my bank account where before there was $0!" or "My car died and so-and-so gave me their car for free!" After hearing several of those stories, its easy to think to yourself, "That's really cool that God's providing!" but we don't let it affect our hearts or the way we live our lives. And then this happened to me...

Monday morning, I was in the kitchen making a batch of much-needed coffee after a long weekend at the CU Annual Conference (which was amazing, by the way) when my doorbell rang. My initial thought was that it must be the postman with a package I'm expecting. Still in my pajamas, I answered the door to see an elderly woman who I didn't know on my doorstep. She smiled and said, "Does an American girl named Sam live here?" Thinking that maybe she was a neighbor who got my package on accident, I replied, "Yes, that's me." She took my hand in both of hers and said, "I'm sorry its not in an envelope" and walked away with a wave and a smile. I looked in my hand and there sat a crumpled 20euro note. I stuttered out a "Thank you" as she walked away, then closed the door and immediately started crying like a baby. 

Any little annoyances in my life at that moment seemed so insignificant and trivial. I suddenly had real, tangible evidence of God's provision. He has been providing for me throughout my entire life and that provision has been most obvious during this Relay year where all of my living and ministry expenses are coming from God through my supporters. But here was tangible evidence of the way God speaks, ordains things, intertwines peoples' lives, and works out all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). I don't know who this woman was, how she knew my name, where I lived, or that I needed money, but God knows all of these things and He must have made the way for all of this to happen. Perhaps God spoke to her directly, maybe he used another one of His children to tell her. But whatever the means, God made it happen.

God's provision is just one of the many lessons I've been learning on my Relay year, but its also probably the most significant. My things are not my own (Psalm 50:9-12). Everything comes from God and belongs to God (James 1:17). He provides for His people exactly what they need (2 Kings 4:1-7). We are to live in light of those truths by using our money, possessions, and resources for the good of God's kingdom. Furthermore, we should always listen for God's voice and follow wherever the Spirit leads us no matter how seemingly scary or uncomfortable. He has a reason and purpose for everything, even if you cannot see or understand the effects your faithful actions may have.

I pray that this story doesn't result in an apathetic response on your part but that it does indeed affect your heart and the way you live your life and spend your money. I also pray that I would never forget this incredible moment or become discontent with the things God has so generously given me.

"I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 
for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 
I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. 
If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." 
Psalm 50:9-12