I had planned to wrap up this journal yesterday at 6:00AM at the Houston airport. However, after staring at my coffee and exclaiming, "THEY GAVE ME A LEFT-HANDED MUG!!" and then face palming hardcore once Papa Don reached over and turned it 180 degrees... I decided I'd better wait until my mind was properly functioning.
It's been hard to think of a way to wrap up this journal that does some justice to the incredible experience that this trip has been. Trying to look back on the past 12 days and searching for something to cling onto has proven impossible. There is too much.
I spent this morning reading through every entry from Day 1 to Day 12, and I was flabbergasted at just how much has already begun to fade from my memory. My joys were rekindled, and my sorrows were brought back to mind. Reflecting over all the lessons that The Spirit of God has been administering to my heart has been a beautiful process, and one that is not even close to being finished. Correcting my spelling and grammar from midnight postings, I noticed something today that I had not noticed before.
God has been teaching me something deeply profound since before we left. I wrote about it on Day 1, and did not remember until I read over it again, today. Here's a throwback to February 4th.
'"Apart from me, you can do nothing. Without my inspiration, your journals will have no worth. Without my motivation, your service will be empty. Without my presence, you will return feeling dissatisfied, and hollow. In these last five yours, it's time to re-center. It's time to hand over the reigns, hand over the pen, and hand over your so-called "preparations." Get your eyes off the work of YOUR hands, and focus on BEING the work of MINE." By the end of these twelve days, I want to have a journal filled with the evidence of God's mercy. By the end of these twelve days, I want to have documented every blessing, every miracle, every sorrow, every joy, every test of faith, and every Godly reward.'
God has granted this desire. He has filled my heart so that it is now overflowing with awe, wonder, gratitude, and new insight. He has used Colombia to open my eyes to the spiritual bankruptcy in my own home. He has used the people I've met to teach me a new way of living. He has used this entire experience to show me the benefits of living by prayer, and by meditation on His Word.
The lessons I learned every day can all be traced back to a brand new understanding of the importance of abiding in Him. The stories of the miracles, the answers to prayer, the power of the Bible, and the possibilities that faith bring have convinced me that I can never go back to reading the Bible out of guilt, or praying out of obligation. The past 12 days have taught me that I can never go back to apathy, laziness, or ignorance. After seeing what I've seen and hearing what I've heard, to go back to the way of life I left on February 4th would be to throw away the thousands of dollars and the months of preparation. To return to the idea that devotion to God is a side-hobby rather than a daily necessity would be to have traveled 6,000 miles for nothing.
We may have signed up for this mission trip for different reasons, but I believe that God had one specific reason for calling us. He showed us that we are capable of being His vessel when we rely on Him. He taught us that we can make a huge difference in people's lives just by imitating the love of Christ. He proved to us that we matter in the Grand Scheme of the Kingdom of God. He told us that if we would simply abide in Him, we could experience the same power of His work HERE, as we experienced in Colombia. It is His desire to perform miracles, speak audibly, and display His might. We need only to turn away from our selfish lifestyle that we have grown so accustomed to.
There is no reason for this amazing encounter with God to remain as a 12-day High. There is no reason to leave the awe and wonder back in South America. We have the ability, the opportunity, the time, and the reason to get on our knees, open our Bibles, focus on Christ, and then watch His story unfold before our eyes! In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman,
God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
I understand that this means giving up time on my phone for time with my Maker. I understand that this means giving up time in the media for time in the Word. I understand that this means giving up time in bed for time on my knees. I understand, and I accept.
I know that my teammates and I are praying that landing on Canadian soil will be the beginning of a truly glorious unfolding of a story that our God wants to bring to our lives, our homes, our school, our town, our country, and our world. I'll take the sorrows.
I'll take the pains. I'll take the mercies, the joys, the spontaneous interruptions, and the unexpected encounters. I'll take it all for the sole purpose of being a living testimony for Your Power, God. Here's my heart, here's my life. Do with it what you will.