Feb 14, 2012

Speaking of love...

Many times, God uses the "not so great" moments and situations that happen to us in life to get our attention and focus our eyes back on Him...the Scriptures are clear, that He disciplines His children because He loves them, just as any good father would do.  However, we should never forget that Romans 2:4 tells us that it is actually through the KINDNESS of God that we are brought to repentence.  Sometimes God blesses people in such a large way that it is bigger and better than anything they could have mustered up on their own, and the magnitude of the situation brings their focus back to the only One who could have been big enough, smart enough and creative enough to design that moment or situation.  This is the kind of experience I had yesterday on my journey of traveling back from the East Coast to California.  

This past weekend, I had the priviledge of leading breakout sessions at a Mother/Daughter retreat in North Carolina.  Now, part of my story, is that the week before my fourteenth birthday, my mother passed away from a brain tumor that had gone undetected. And so, today, at 28, I am no longer a daughter to a biological mother, and I am single with no children, and yet I continue to get invitations to join in on mother/daughter retreats and conferences. HA! The amazing thing though, has been to see God use my story to help these younger girls see what a special time that is with their moms and to not take for granted those moments with them.  Normally taking part in these conferences doesn't conjure up any saddness about missing my mother, actually I take great joy from being around so many moms and their sweet baby girls and seeing their interactions...but for some reason, maybe even due to my tiredness by the end of it, this retreat did have an effect on my emotions.  I spent some time on Sunday reflecting on it, and by Sunday night as I lay down for bed, I had come to even feeling a tinge of discouragement.  And so, as I turned out the light and lay in the dark, in the last moments before falling alseep, with tears in my eyes, I simply prayed and asked God if He would encourage me in ways within the next day that would be unique to me and that I would know were from His hand.  God did nothing short of BLOW ME AWAY with His response:

Flight 1 (Raleigh Durham, N.C. to Nashville, TN.):  I was seated in the last row in the back of the plane (yeah, you know the location, the one by the bathroom), and not long after I sat down, a guy that also looked to be in his 20's sat down next to me.  It wasn't long before a conversation between us began, and come to find out, he was also a Christian.  And as we began exchanging stories of how God had worked in our lives and also on travels we had taken, etc., he mentioned that his mother had died when he was ten years old.  I asked him to tell me more about that part of his life, and after he shared, I revealed my story to him about also losing my mom at a young age.  WOW!  Not only were our stories very parallel, but the descriptions of our childhoods and even our mothers were strikingly similar.  He was such a kindred spirit, and it took everything I could do to not cry as he shared about his life, and how it resonated with mine.  Someone gets this, gets was a moment of being truly understood, a healing moment really.  At one point, he said, "I never talk about this stuff..." I said, "Me either," and we both agreed that it had been a good conversation for the both of us to have.  When we arrived in Nashville, he had to get off while I stayed on the same plane to head to my connection in Phoenix from there. I was blown away by the encouragement I received from our conversation, and praised God that He had answered my prayers in that way...oh, but silly me to think that was the end of the encouragment that was coming from Heaven...  

Flight 2 (Nashville, TN. to Phoenix, AZ.):  While on my second flight yesterday, I began to think about two people who have become very dear to my heart.  They are Drs. Chuck and Rhonda Kelley, the president and president's wife of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where I received my M.Div.  Though I know that they would have been fantastic parents, the Lord chose not to give the Kelley's children of their own, but yet has given them hundreds of students to love and care for.  I have this theory that as much as I know kids need to be loved by parents (and loved by people who are like parents when theirs may be absent for whatever reason), that parents also need to be loved by children.  We are designed for this exchange of love!  And so, often my prayer for the Kelley's is that God would use the students of the seminary and others in their lives to love them as parents should be loved, and that they would experience that kind of unique joy.  And so, as they came to my mind during this flight, I began to pray for them.  By the time we landed in Phoenix, the thought of them had become so strong, that I was was beginning to worry that something may be wrong.  And so when it was clear to turn on my phone, I pulled up Facebook and went to Dr. Rhonda's wall, to check and make sure no prayer requests or anything had been posted.  Nope, no prayer requests, nothing wrong...the only thing her status said was...THEY WERE ON THE WAY TO PHOENIX!  No way.  With a three hour layover ahead of me, I checked out flights coming in from New Orleans, and there was only one.  And so, I texted Dr. Rhonda to tell her that I may be at their gate when they land, still not certain that this was all really coming together.  And wouldn't you know it, an hour before I had to catch my next flight, they stepped off of theirs and we got to give big hugs to one another and visit for about 20 minutes in the airport!!!!  WHAT?!  Did that all really happen?  Remember how I had asked God to bring encouragement that was unique to me? He couldn't have made it much more specific that this.  The visit with them was so good for my spirit, and then Dr. Chuck even blessed me with money to buy my dinner that night!  BLESSED I tell you...just blessed.

Flight 3 (Phoenix, AZ. to San Francisco, CA.):  In short about this flight, from take off to landing I got to talk all things theology, ecclesiology, politics, etc. with the man sitting next to me. The conversation was exhilerating, challenging and a joy all in one. By the time we got to the baggage claim together, he told me that it had been a pleasure and that as a person, as a woman, I was a "force of nature to be dealt with."  HA!  Maybe so, maybe any light, I may get together soon again with he and his son to talk more theology! YAHOO! :)  

As I rode back to school on the Marin Airporter last night, I was just speechless before my Maker.  This speechlessness carried over into today, and truly His kindess has overwhelmed me and brought me back to my knees in gratitude to the Almighty.  I mean, c'mon...He is God, He has A LOT going on in this great big world in which He not only created but also owns, and you would think that He wouldn't have time to concern Himself with my small voice, my one heart in the sea of millions of others...But this is who He is and what His Spirit does in the world and in the lives of believers. But it's not just for me that He does this...ALL can come to Christ, ALL are welcomed at His table...and His ear is turned down desiring to hear from you today.  Don't give up on Him or your prayers today, for it may be right around the corner when His timing and will align to bless your life more than you could have ever dreamed.

"You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways..." (Ps. 139:3)