Alright... it's been 3 weeks since my last day in Texas and I HAVE to get this post written! I'm sorry if you don't want a long post - because this is going to be long. (Again.) (Did you miss Part One, Part Two or Part Three?) Well, Saturday night after a refreshing and renewing and relaxing day, I ended up back at my hotel room knowing I needed to get packed and ready to be up early to catch my 8:55 flight home. I was trying to figure out how to get from the hotel to the freeway and back to the airport. Looked at my maps. Tried google maps and mapquest and was pretty sure neither of them were giving me the best info. Called the front desk and got some partially good advice from the guy there. THANKFULLY I had been driving around that part of Houston enough that weekend to know that when he said "turn left when you leave the hotel" that he really meant "turn right." The rest of what he said was good, but I realized that was another lesson: Be careful who you get advice from! It may or may not be all good! When in doubt, FOLLOW THE MAP!
Before I tell you about the end of my trip, I want to remind you of something I wrote back in November... You can read the whole post if you want - but I was talking about how I had been feeling like I had been spiritually asleep and thought it was time to wake up. I said, "But I think my winter is almost over. I've started feeling more and more like I'm wrestling out of a cocoon or trying to wake up from a long nap - not fully asleep or fully awake yet. This week I found Ephesians 5 (as if for the first time) where it talks about living as children of light and the light making things visible and it reminded me of what I was praying about (and wrote about here) about Creation and the light and when I read Ephesians 5:14 it was as if God was whispering in my ear "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!" Yesterday I listened over and over to a fairly new song by Matt Maher called "Alive Again". (You can watch/listen to Matt explain the story behind the song HERE or you can listen to the song HERE.) It expresses so well what I'm feeling... or what I'm starting to feel... waking up, coming alive again... the light on the horizon when the sun's about to rise..."
OK. Do you see those words????? Ever since last March when I memorized Genesis 1:1-4, LIGHT has been a symbol of God working some things out in me and bringing order into the chaos there is in my life. I've been praying and working and trusting Him to "let there be light!" more and more in how I manage my days and hours and minutes and my home and my children. (In other words... how I manage ME.) I've been waiting for the sun to rise. And I just needed to explain that so you'll know why everything else I say in this post was such a big deal to me. : ) Here is what I wrote in my journal on the flight home about my drive from the hotel to the airport early Sunday morning...
"... it was so exciting to discover I was going to get to actually see a sunrise this morning!!! Just the anticipation of it made me cry as I was driving down 59... Lord, I love your ways!!! The songs on the radio made for the perfect worship time as I was driving - it was overwhelming. What's funny is that I was a bit concerned about missing the actual sunrise (if I got to the airport first and couldn't see it.) How silly - yet how predictable. :p So as I was driving, wondering if I would get to really see the sunrise or not... all of a sudden I realized why I kept feeling like I was watching a sunset instead of a sunrise. I had my internal directions completely flipped upside down. I KNOW the sun rises in the East. I knew from the map I was supposed to be on the 59 North, but I could not shake the feeling that I was driving South! I knew I had to be going the right way, but it FELT completely wrong. I started sort of desperately looking for a sign that would say 59 North so I'd know I was not only on the right road, but going in the right direction! : ) I was VERY relieved when I saw the signs - so I just kept following the signs and the MAP, even though it FELT COMPLETELY WRONG. I don't know yet what life is going to look like in these next months, but I DO believe Your Word is going to be my MAP even when it doesn't feel right. I'm so grateful that this morning even when I didn't "feel" it, I KNEW I was in the right place and on the right path. So comforting. "
This reminds me of when we were getting ready to go to Thailand to bring home our little guy and I was SO scared. My brain kept saying "THIS IS CRAZY!" But I KNEW we were on the right road... So glad we KNEW. More in the journal:
"So as I got closer to the airport, I started to see even more light starting to shine on the clouds and I listened to You - or felt Your leading more than heard it - almost like a silent usher : ) - to the end of the rental car structure where I had the PERFECT spot to STOP (alone) and watch one of THE MOST glorious sunrises I've ever seen in my life. I just stood there in wonder and cried. After all these words and thoughts about sunrises and the light... I just can hardly stand it. You are just so extravagant Lord. Oh, and for a while when I was driving it also sort of seemed like maybe the sun wasn't ever going to actually rise. Silly and illogical as that was, it actually crossed my mind! But that time You SAID, "the SUN ALWAYS RISES! And the SON always rises!" You can't not rise upon Your children! You can't not shine on Your children because You can't turn Your face away from us! You can't abandon Your own! : ) You will complete what You start. Today is a new day, Lord." I was OVERWHELMED.
And remember the story back in Part 1 about getting lost when I was leaving the airport on my way to the conference? Here's what I wrote about that: "I was a bit baffled by getting lost even when I was trying to follow - but I get it now. You wanted to be sure I know that when I DO miss Your leading, when I do lose my way, You will still be with me and You'll stop me - help me know I'm off track - and You'll lead me back. It might take help from others, but one way or another, You'll find me and lead me home."
I started crying again right now as I read/typed that. I think that was perhaps the most precious lesson of all. Fitting, too, considering that the lessons about Psalm 119 were intended to help us identify with the Psalmist's longings and loves. The whole Psalm is big and triumphant and frustrated and full of commitment to follow and obey God's commands and His pathways. Man, that is my life! Full of commitment to follow, and stumbling along - sometimes victoriously, sometimes NOT... But the Psalm ends on such a different note... "I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands." (verse 176) I've always wanted to follow God's direction - in the big and little things - and have wondered "but what about when I don't hear right? What about when I'm trying to hear You and think I hear You and it turns out I was wrong?" The temptation is to stop trying to listen for fear of not hearing right. But that can't be right. Instead God sweetly reminded me in such an unforgettable way that He will always be with me and when I stray (because I will!) He will still be there and as long as I want Him to, He'll find me and lead me home.
The End. : )