God bless the dirty roads…

Standard

Jesus was about to stoop low… and become a servant to His disciples… and was their feet.

Until I did missions in Guatemala, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania Africa-this verse didn’t fully make sense to me.

“When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!””

John 13:6-9 NLT

The majority of all roads (other than the one main road) are not paved like we have in USA. They are deeply rutted, dirt roads… often muddy in rainy season; or very dusty and sandy in the other seasons…

Animals roam freely, no fences keeping them separated from traffic.

Children are among those who walk everywhere, often bare footed, or wearing sandals.

The roads are long, bumpy, dusty, dirty… and feet very quickly get dirty too. It’s the way of life for most cultures.

Most don’t possess shoes for their feet- and for those who have shoes, often they are open shoes, like sandals.

The primary mode of transportation was foot- walking. People of all ages walking everywhere.

There’s a variety of animal dung everywhere- sheep, goats, cows, chickens and more roam free- and many steps that occur during foot travel incur stepping in yucky stuff… at times, it’s unavoidable…so you can see now how filthy the feet easily became.

It was customary to have the lowest of servants stoop low, with a basin of warm water, and wash the feet of guests, and more so people in a higher stature.

I’ll never forget how incredibly humbling and moving it was the first time that my feet and hands were washed when a guest in a home on missions… I WENT TO SERVE THEM… and yet, through this simply, profoundly moving act, they served me.

It was life changing.

Now read this passage again.

Once Peter heard Jesus say ‘unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me’, Peters answer changed from ‘No! You will never ever wash my feet!’ to ‘then wash my hands, and my head as well, Lord, not just my feet!’

God bless the dirty roads that leads us straight to You.

Peter didn’t want Jesus on Sunday mornings only, Peter wanted Jesus on every day, and every moment of every day!

May our prayers be like Peters… in all the filth of our sins… let us cry out:

Wash ALL of me, Jesus!!! I want to belong to You FULLY Lord!!!’

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

John 13:14-15 NLT

Jesus gave us an example to follow, and told us to do likewise.

We must become servants. Church, let’s get busy!!!

Life’s a Journey

Standard

Life is a journey…

Made up of peaks and valleys, many roads-some long and narrow, some bumpy, some treacherous, some winding, and some seem never to end!

Many times, we start on our path, believing we know the destination-but as we go-we realize each curve in the road, each intersection-is more challenging than the last.

All the variances and places in between ‘here and there’ in the roads we travel in life are being used by God in shaping us, molding us, into His image.

Sometimes, we set our cruise control, sit back, and enjoy the beauty in our surroundings!

Sometimes, the scenes are splendorous and breathtaking!

We travel through so many different sceneries!

The snowy peaked mountains, rolling hills of countryside, changing fall colors, the plains…

Miles of corn fields, and wheat farms-sometimes even alongside the oceans… sweet fragrances to enjoy, and we reflect on Gods beauty everywhere.

Not every road in our life’s journey offers beautiful scenery-

Not every stretch is pleasant…

(Or enjoyable.)

Sometimes- when we are traveling, we get stuck in traffic.

It’s NEVER convenient. NEVER planned. Just as we thought we were making progress…bam!

In one hundred degree temperatures.

Sometimes, the air conditioning stops working-and life gets sticky, unpleasant.

Sometimes we have to roll our sleeves up, and our windows down.

Sometimes, instead of the enjoyable fresh country air, and sweet aromas of honeysuckle- instead, is the stench of cow manure from the dairy farm, or from the garbage truck next to you!

This IS life.

God will use each part- every mile of our travel, especially the little side trails where we wander- and will use them for His glory.

It may not ‘make sense’ to us-and may not always ‘feel’ good…

Sometimes, part of our ‘journey’ seems as if we are stuck in a tunnel for miles and miles…with very little light surrounding us to help navigate clearly through.

Yet, as the song ‘Waymaker‘ goes-

‘Even when I don’t see it, He’s working-

Even when I don’t feel it-He’s working-

He never stops-never stops working, He never stops! Never stops working!’

God takes the little things we don’t usually understand and works them out for our good.

Listen-

Hear His voice, the still, small voice on the inside-

Rest in Him.

Trust in Him.

Do what is right, even when it’s hard.

Don’t compromise.

When the rose bush is being trimmed, the pruning process is painful at the time-but it’s so necessary for the growth and blooms about to follow!

When God’s doing the pruning, He will make it right.

I read a devotion this morning that made me think along this lines, ‘Simple Living’ (TearFund). Here’s an excerpt:

God is in the business of taking small, tiny offerings and using them to create a huge impact. The small, smooth stones in David’s sling. A little boy with five loaves and two fish. The tiny mustard seed. A widow’s last few drops of oil and flour for a final meal with her son.

We often think of what we lack. The problems are too big; the world is too broken. But God is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine. He’s blessed us with creativity, ingenuity–and each other.

In considering the small things we can do and when we are uncertain of the way ahead, we can be encouraged that God takes our small steps–and our offerings along the way, inadequate though they seem–and breathes His life through them for His glory.

Chew over the words in Psalm 84:5 and thank God for the blessings He gives to those who set their hearts on pilgrimage.

God is for us! He is with us-through every step of our journey. He is faithful, and will never leave us or forsake us.

It’s easy to enjoy the enjoyable seasons of our lives… trusting God during the difficult times is where we see our inner character outwardly.

When we are stuck in a season when everything seems to be crumbling around us- the spotlight highlights us in moments of raw transparency-

Remember… the journey of life continues… this particular ‘mile’ will fade., bringing us closer to our destination.

Like a road map, so are the days of our life. All have meaning and purpose.

Hope arising-Sunflower miracle

Standard

Every time I see a sunflower, I smile.  It reaches deep into my soul, and takes me back to a time where I was filled with despair, heartache, and anguish over the death of my beloved Great-Aunt Zippy, but how faithful is my God who hears and heals the brokenhearted!    What does this have to do with a sunflower?  With Hope arising?  With a miracle?

I’ll tell you.  Growing up the oldest of three, and the only girl, and as a military child was difficult for me.  My younger brothers had each other as playmates regardless of where we moved to, but I never seemed to fit in.  My Aunt Zippy, who lived in Charles City Iowa, had a soul connection with me.  Though I didn’t get to see her often, the times we did get to visit were so instrumental and profound, the memories of our visits boosted me.  She always had a way of making me feel special, even long-distanced.  She seemed to read my mind, and know when I was struggling.  Sometimes, I’d get a letter in the mail from her, in her curly old-fashioned handwriting; always ending with “Aunt Zippy loves you!”  Other times, I’d get a phone call from her, with her saying “Aunt Zippy just needed to hear your voice dear. Is every thing OK?” And all of my troubles would spill out into her listening ear.

Well, the day came when she passed away.  When my mother called me, and said she had to tell me something that was going to upset me, suddenly in my heart, I knew.  “Is it Aunt Zippy?” I asked.  And mom confirmed.  A part of my heart stopped beating at that moment, and I fell into a depressed, numb shock. NOOOOOOOOOO!  I screamed silently.  It couldn’t be true!  I wasn’t ready for her to die!

We weren’t sure how we were going to afford driving to Iowa for her funeral.  Our available cash was non-existent. At the time, I was selling Longaberger Baskets, and had a large amount of the collector baskets, and a few avid customers who loved deals.  I decided to bundle a bunch together and offer a grouping too irresistible to refuse, and was soon able to exchange a truck load of baskets for the cash we needed, and we were on our way, with our 3 children in tow.

We were asked to sing at her funeral.  Our son plays the guitar and sings, along with the rest of us.  We decided we would sing “I Can Only Imagine”.  I couldn’t imagine being able to sing, when I wasn’t able to talk without crying, and breathing was difficult.  I kept praying for the Lord to give me strength.

Aunt Zippy’s favorite flower was the Sunflower.  Due to a drought in the area, it was difficult  finding sunflowers for her funeral.  Her son, my cousin Paul, was able to get a few ordered for her casket.  Seeing her like that was the hardest sight I ever witnessed.  I missed her so much!  I was consumed with the deepest anguish, and struggled to find peace.

You see, only a few weeks before her fiftieth wedding anniversary, her husband, my Uncle Red, passed away following complications with heart surgery.  She was so angry at God!  She felt cheated.  When I would try to talk with her about it, she’d clamp up, and I sensed the bitterness that was settling in, mixed with her heartache.  I knew she was raised in a church, and knew she was a member of the local church in fact; but didn’t know for sure she’d given her heart to Jesus, and received Him as her personal Lord and Savior.  The uncertainty of her eternal rest was eating away at me, and was the source of my agony!

Desperate to know, I cried out to God.  On our return trip home, still numb with grief, still in shock, still searching within, I asked God “Father God, You know where she is.  You know how much she means to me, and how much I am hurting.  I know all things are possible with You.  I ask that You show me a sign dear Lord, that she is with you in Heaven.  I need a miracle dear Lord.  Please let it be, In Jesus Name, amen.”

My head against the window, looking out at the roadside, tears streaming down my face, Iowa corn fields passing by us as we traveled, all of a sudden, I see the most amazing sight!  There on the right side of the road growing wild were several beautiful, tall sunflowers!    I jumped up, and exclaimed to my family “Look!  Did you see that?  There were 2 or 3 large sunflowers right there!  I know God placed them there as a sign for me that Aunt Zippy is alive in heaven with Him!”  My husband laughed and teased me, “Mommy must have had a dream kids” he said.  They laughed a bit too, while I insisted I wasn’t dreaming, and that I knew what I saw. I even suggested my husband turn around and go back to see it himself, but he didn’t.

I guess I must have dozed off, but shortly after I was awakened by my children hollering “Mommy!  Look!  Look!  Look out the window!  Look at all of the sunflowers mommy!”  I looked and couldn’t BELIEVE what my eyes were seeing!  The entire roadside for about a mile or so was FULL OF SUNFLOWERS!  Amazing!  I couldn’t believe it!  They were soooo beautiful!  God is so good!  He answered my prayer, and tears were flowing, as I was knowing…my aunt Zippy was in heaven!  God is faithful!

I called my cousin Paul and shared with him.  I just wanted others to have the peace that was flooding my heart in knowing she was with God!    He seemed subdued, and a little skeptical, but was happy for me.  I can’t describe to you the depth of my joy!  I was thrilled my children and husband witnessed it too.  WOW GOD!  And just like God, when we finally pulled into our driveway of our Virginia home, after 2 days of driving, guess what was there at our front door, welcoming us?  Yep.  You guessed it.  The biggest, largest sunflower bloom you ever saw, growing in our flower garden next to our front steps, with its petals wide open.  I’ve never planted sunflowers there before.  It wasn’t growing when we left.  It was heaven-sent, with arms wide open, welcoming us home.  Our sunflower miracle!

Image