Today, friends of mine took the last few things out of my apartment. I have a folding chair left. Even that will be gone before the day is over. But, the hardest part is coming to realize that it will be a very long time before I see these friends again. Tears were filling my eyes. It was a happy/sad moment. Even though I am looking forward to what God has in store for me, it is hard. Saying "good Bye" isn't easy. And I am sure for those I am leaving behind, the "Good Bye" will also be difficult. I am so thankful that these people are a part of my life. What a blessing! They have encouraged & offered direction. And now, I am going to miss them. We come and go. There are seasons of life. Things change. People change. Circumstances change. God is Faithful. He never changes! Praise God!
The theme for today seems to be "letting go." I packed up most of what was left in my apartment into my friend's van. She will store it for me in Erie. So, I let go of "stuff." I also "let go" of my car today, as I signed it over to someone else. It is their generosity that is allowing me to use the car until I move out of my apartment Sunday afternoon. I'm trying not to be a spoiled American. My apartment is pretty empty with piles of things here and there to give to a variety of people tomorrow. I'll be sleeping at my neighbor's house. And I'll be experiencing the bittersweetness of turning the pages to a new chapter of life. Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming, but that's OK, God will see me through.
Iron sharpens iron,and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (HCSB)
Did you ever notice that if you spend too much time alone your mind seems to get a little dull. The excitement of life seems to wan, and for me, I get tired & feel sleepy. This morning, I was reading in the book of Proverbs. Chapter 27 verse 17 says: "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." I know when I am involved with others, I am more alert, I learn from them, and, I grow personally. Case in point: last night I was at a friend's house while they were working on my computer. I was wide awake, until about 11PM. That is so unlike me! Yet, friends were around, conversation was good and I was learning about my new computer.
The same works in our spiritual life, too. When I am actively involved in a small group, in worship, with other Christians with whom I am able to talk and be accountable, my spiritual walk improves. I am closer to God. I don't panic right away when things go wrong, I take time to breathe and assess the situation and ask the Lord to lead me. When I take time to be with Him in the morning, I have a better outlook all day. Even when I don't think I have time, when I take the time to be with Him, He helps me through the day. Right now, I need His sharpening. And, I am not spending as much time with Him as I know I need. There is so much to do before Sunday, yet, that is no excuse. "Lord, forgive me. Let's talk, even now."
Sunday I worshipped at a church that I refer to as my "second" home church. It was communion Sunday. The pastor spoke about the ordinary wheat and grapes that together make up this holy moment for us as Christians. What he talked about was what happens to the wheat, what happens to the grapes to prepare them for use as the bread and juice used as the communion elements. The wheat is pulled, chaffed, ground, sifts as it is made into flour. he grapes are picked, crushed, separated from the skin, they go through a process as they are made into grape juice. And, even during the communion service, the bread is broken. Christ did the same for us.
As I sat in the congregation and listened, I reflected on my life. The struggles, the heart aches, the abandonment, the rejection. The times when I never thought I would never be able to handle another day. Yet, God took those moments that seemed to crush me, that seemed to put me in despair, that seemed to be victorious in my life and He used them, He redeemed them, using them to glorify His name. That Is why I am moving to Ghana. Not because I am someone special or extraordinary, but because I have been broken and then redeemed. May I live up to the task that He has set before me!
Up to this point in my life, whenever I went someplace, it was a round trip. I was always returning. I'd visit someone, then return home. I'd drive someplace, then return home. I'd go to a conference and return home. I'd go to Russia, Kaz, Peru, Ghana, Turkey, Costa Rica and I always had a return ticket. Now, I am flying to Ghana. But, this time it is different. I have a one way ticket. I am not returning home, I have no "home" to come back to. All my stuff is either sold or packed, I'm sleeping on an air mattress and using a borrowed chair and step stool.
When I fly out, I won't know if I'll ever see my family and friends again. I hope and pray I will, but that part of life is not as certain as if I were to stay in the USA. I may never worship at my home church again. Or go to the library or the local grocery store again. I may nervier see snow again, although right now, I'm ready to leave snow behind. There are a lot of people that I love to whom I will be saying "good bye" to. I know I plan to return in 2 years or so for a visit. But, things just seem a little more uncertain when you follow God's call in the way that I am following.
Am I hesitant? No. Scared? No. A bit apprehensive? Somewhat. But, I am ready to embrace what God has in store for me. Are you seeking Him and embracing what He has in store for you? I can guarantee your life will never be the same if you are!
The countdown is on...10, 9...only 9 days left before I fly out of the country on a one way ticket! Life has been pretty hectic for me recently. Errands, phone calls, travelling, collecting documents, packing, repacking, making choices on a variety of levels. I can't believe the time is actually near! I often have wondered if the time will ever come. And, now that it is so close...I am overwhelmed at the grace of God. He is so faithful! He knows what is best for His children, He knows what is best for me.
I spent the last 2 days in snow country, in Corry, PA, with friends that are like family to me. I worshipped with them, enjoyed their company, just "hung out" with them and was spoiled by them. The sermon was one that was perfect for the day, for my life and a reaffirmation of what God has been doing in my life. I was truly blessed while there, even in the -11 degree F weather. God has been so good to me.
Now, it is time to tie up some more loose ends. And I know God will be with me all of the way. He has already gone before me, finding me a house to make into a home that will glorify Him. It is so much more than I ever hoped for or dreamed of, yet He knew what I wanted, what I needed. I know that He will continue to be faithful and I pray that I will continue to be a faithful to Him.
Have you ever played a new game with children? Or a game in which they aren't doing so well? Sometimes they ask for a "do over." Older kids and even adults ask for a "do over" from time to time, too. A bad mark on an exam, a child who got hurt, an illness, divorce...there are a lot of circumstances in life that happen that we wish would have never happened. It would be so nice to have a "do over," wouldn't it?
The good news is that we can have that "do over" whenever we want it. When we ask Jesus to live in our hearts and ask Him to be our Savior and Lord, we have new life, a "do over!" We make a bad choice and need to ask forgiveness, "do over!" We need peace in our lives instead of chaos, "do over!" Our lives have taken a turn for the worse because of choices and God redeems those lives and uses them for His glory, "do over!"
The Bible says in Psalm 30, "You have turned my mourning into dancing for me..." "Do over!" In Lamentations 3 it says, "His mercies never end, they are new every morning." "Do over!" We can have a "do over" whenever we need it, not just at New Year's with a New Year's Resolution. All we have to do is go to our Heavenly Father and talk with Him. He will hear and answer and He will give you that needed "do over."