“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
The past few months have been some of the most challenging I have experienced in a long time but with the straining comes strengthening.
When I arrived in Texas I didn’t really know what to expect. I was afraid I would lack community and not get along with my roommates however many that turned out to be. I was afraid of the heat and isolation of east Texas. I was afraid for things I couldn’t even put into words then or now.
However, when it was all said and done it was an amazing experience with too much to share so here are a few photos of my time in Texas…
For now, I have picked my most meaningful highlight from my time in Texas to share with you….
The second Saturday after arriving our group went on a silent retreat to a local state park to get away from life and distractions and just be still before the Lord. We left early in the morning and I could not be more excited to get off the cow pasture and into the woods to see what the Lord was going to teach me. I had all, yes there were three, of my favorite study Bibles. I thought I was going to have a few hours to just dig into the Word and study scripture. Well as he often does the Lord had other plans for our time.
I began to wander down a path trying to find a good spot to sit and meet with him. No matter where I stopped there always seemed to be something wrong – too many bugs, too many people, not enough room to spread out. I started praying for God to lead me to the perfect spot and what do you know he did. I wish I could send you a photo but as it was a silent retreat my phone was left at home so I am left with the words that will probably not do it justice.
I came around a bend in the path and before me was a bridge. To the right of the bridge was the lake and to the left was paradise. Jutting out into this paradise was a stone something, I don’t actually know what it was but it got me off the dirt away from the bugs and there was enough room for me to spread out and lay down if I wanted to. When I think about it, it was probably more of a marshy swamp than a paradise but in that moment it was perfection. The sun was shining bright and reflecting beautifully off the water; dragonflies and butterflies were dancing about through the sky landing on flowers, tree limbs and cat tails. There were no mosquitoes and the ants seemed to be diverting themselves around my blanket. I sat there with my back to the path and ear plugs in and was in awe of the creation God had made.
I prayed and just thanked God that this spot existed. I thanked him that there was nobody else already sitting there and relatively nobody in the surrounding area either. I was getting ready to open my Bible and begin reading his word when I just felt him say, “No, not yet.”
Okay, I’ll sit here a little longer. How much longer do you want me to sit?
“Just sit, I’ll let you know”
Over and over, I heard God telling me “be here, be now.” I was seeing Matt 6 (quoted above) lived out in front of me with the Creator of all things providing and meeting all the needs of his creation and how much more will he provide for me, his child. It was incredible.
After an hour or so I finally felt the Lord was telling me to go ahead and open my Bible and open it to Jeremiah 17. Now, I’m usually skeptical about this sort of thing. Previously, when I have felt “led” to a certain passage it was just me opening my Bible and seeing what was on the page and nine times out of ten it wasn’t very applicable to that specific moment.
Let me share with you what Jeremiah 17:7-8 says
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”
Yeah, that was the verse God gave me as I sat there panicking about life in Texas and life on the ship; as I sat there panicking about life in general; as I sit here panicking about the upcoming responsibilities of my new position as Senior Lab Tech or the fact we still don’t know where the ship is going….TRUST. BE HERE BE NOW. TRUST ME
I came away from that morning feeling so at peace with God. I had reveled in his presence and just let him take away my concerns and fill me with his peace which transcends all understanding.
For the rest of my time in Texas, my two weeks in Haiti and even here my first week on the ship I keep coming back to that phrase – “Be here, be now.” God is eagerly waiting for me to just stop moving, stop telling him the plans and just let him lead. Let him fill me with joy. Let him meet all my needs. Let him be God, Creator of all things and Creator of me.