4:00 a.m. — Wake up, get dressed, finish packing.
4:45 p.m. — Pray with the girls for our trip.
5:00 a.m. — Pastor Ed shows up with bad news
5:30 a.m. — Back to bed
Today was supposed to be the day that my Pastor, two of the teenage girls from the church and I travel down to Nassau, Bahamas for a short mission trip. Pastor Ed is on the board of the Adventure Learning Centre where some of the church missionaries work. He was traveling down for board meetings while the girls and I were going to work and help out around the Centre.
The ALC is a ministry to Bahamian school-aged children. They teach the kids about God’s creation and work the gospel into every nature presentation they give. They have quite the setup down there, complete with animals, nature paths, a planetarium, etc. They’ve also recently started a “camp” for churches to come in and use their facilities for retreats and such. AND they’ve just started a discipleship program for college-age folk called Patmos: Reality Discipleship. It’s an incredibly busy ministry and it seems to be growing every day.
So we were going to go down and help out for a few days. Mainly, we were going down to broaden out horizons and views of the world. The girls have never really experienced a culture outside of upstate NY, and I’ve never been overseas. We were very excited to see what the Lord had prepared for us to learn down there.
The Lord, however, had a different lesson for us to learn over these next few days; one that didn’t involve international travel. Tropical Storm Noel seems to have parked itself over exactly where we want to fly and all flights into Nassau have been canceled for the next 2 days. Since we were just following our pastor down who was going to board meetings, all we can do now is wait and see how the board reschedules. There’s a possibility that we could go down in two weeks; the other possibility is to go in January and I guess a third possibility is to not go at all.
The lesson: God’s Sovereignty. We know that he holds the weather in His hand, and that His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. We know that He works all things out for our good and that His will for our lives is our sanctification. However sanctifying a trip to poor, deprived Nassau would be, God knew that staying here would sanctify me more.
The past two Sundays in church Pastor Ed has been pleading with us to find our joy in Christ and the gospel, not in the world. We are to find our joy in the only thing that will not falter in trial: the promises that God makes us through His word. The declarations He makes about Himself, the promises of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the inheritance we share with Christ. That is what I should be finding my joy and peace in, not in the sunny skies of the Bahamas in October.
Yesterday, I got extremely frustrated and stressed out about packing. The last time I had flown, my mother had done all the packing for me, so making sure my luggage was the right size and weight while trying to carry on an expensive camera was a little more than my nerves could handle. Last night, while sitting in Bible study, I noticed that my Christ-focused attitude had slipped and I had all of a sudden become very self-focused and downcast. I realized then, that I was going to have to fight and fight hard against my flesh that night. And as I lay in bed, I spent time repenting of my sin and reminding myself of all the promises I can hope in.
I would be telling falsehoods if I told you that I saw this lesson coming. I knew about the storm and I knew we would probably get held up at some point in time, but I was naive in the severity of the storm, I suppose. So when Pastor Ed walked in this morning sharing the news of our chance to exalt Christ in Speculator for the next few days, I wasn’t necessarily surprised, just disappointed. I had been anticipating this trip for two months and I had seen the Lord provide in ways I never dreamt imaginable.
I guess this is where the lesson comes in. God knew that amidst all his provision for the trip, that we wouldn’t be able to go down there today; He knew that from the beginning. His ways are better than mine; man’s wisdom seems folly compared to His. I know all of these truths, but today I was given the chance to live them.
As of right now, I can sit before this computer and tell you that I am trusting in the Lord and His wisdom. BUT I can also tell you that it is not easy. I can feel my flesh tugging on self pity and misery with every thought. I can feel those thoughts of entitlement wanting to push through. Even confusion, I can feel, is trying to push me towards sin. Living the truth of the Lord’s sovereignty is not easy and I am fighting extremely hard for it. The amazing thing about this struggle is that I have all I need to overcome those temptations. With the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me, I have the power to not sin.
I will sin, though, and have. That’s where grace comes in. My sins have already been judged on the cross and I need not try and justify myself any more. This is where I find myself tonight, at the cross. Humbled and pulled toward Christ. It is a good place to be no matter where on this tiny Earth I am.