It has been a humbling day for me as I have gone back and re-read many of the blog entries and the comments you all left during our crisis just a little over a year ago now. I have shed many fresh tears today.
I have to wonder “Was this really happening?” or was it just a grand hoax not unlike the conspiracy theorists who believe that the first moon landing was a staged thing.
But then I step back, take a deep breath, feel the top of my skull with three large divots still there, the permanent scar that runs down the middle of my chest, and look at the pictures and it is undeniable. But from my perspective now it seems like an out of body experience.
Karla and I were on autopilot. Thankfully we had an excellent Pilot who navigated us safely through to the end…of that particular trial anyway. Oh there will no doubt be other trials, but this one was a severe test. All the things we had believed about God prior to this trial were proven true in the furnace of affliction. And our faith was deepened…not merely because things ended up going in our favor, but because God is God and He does all things well…even tailor making, and fashioning, and appointing the trials in our lives. The sovereignty of God has been my comfort throughout this entire ordeal. Like 18th century theologian/pastor/philsopher Jonathan Edwards I too love to ascribe to God absolute sovereignty.
The reason I was going through the blog entries is because I have been asked to come to Romania to preach in a church in Craiova Romania on Sunday May 2nd,2010, and also a retreat for the American missionaries in Romania through our denominational missions program. I will be traveling with four other folks from Johnston E. Free Church who will be providing the musical expertise to lead in worship. Johnston E. Free has invested much time, personnel, and finances toward the propogation of the Gospel in Romania.
I will be speaking seven times during the retreat, and I will be telling/sharing the story of God’s faithfulness toward us through the trial. I will be using various texts of Scripture that point to the purposes of God in sufferings and trials. We don’t have the corner on suffering but we have a little better understanding than we did prior to going through this.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
That’s what I hope to accomplish in these 12 days away from home (leaving Friday April 30 and returning on May 11). If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in traveling to different countries in South America and Europe it’s that people are pretty much the same wherever you go. Children are resilient and happy and laugh at the same silly kinds of things everywhere..and adults everywhere have similar aspirations, concerns, and tribulations.
That’s why I trust and hope that the messages I bring in these next days will be a stunningly clear reflection of Jesus Christ, who said in John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Life is sometimes difficult, but God is real…He is here, there, and everywhere. He was in the past, is in the present, and already knows the future…because He has always been there as well. And God is always good my friends…always! So take heart!
Taking our story of God’s faithfulness on the road,
while still wiping away fresh tears of grattitude,