Final Preparations

What has seemed like more of a dream than a reality for the last several months is now finally becoming real. 

The emails from our group leader have been more frequent with constant reminders to practice walking, use the stairs, drink your water and conserve on water while showering and doing your morning prep.

We have been receiving pictures of people and places that we will be experiencing for ourselves once we get there. We have been given little notes of encouragement and a number of challenges and tasks to fulfiill before we take off . 

We have been provided a list of supplies that have been requested from various families and ministries of which we will meet and share our lives. I adopted a number of

 these requested items and have packed what I am calling my Mission Suitcase.

I attend a wonderful small, country church that sits along the highway just north of the town in which I live. I asked my church family to be a part of this journey. I told them of some of the things I needed to pack in my Mission Suitcase and gave them opportunity to provide those items. It was absolutely no surprise to find that every item I asked for has been provided and in abundance.

Today is my last Sunday before leaving town and meeting up with the group. I asked my pastor if I could bring the suitcase and show everyone what we had collected. I requested that she offer a prayer for all the supplies the whole VIM group will be providing. I asked for prayers for myself, our whole group, and for those with whom we will be sharing our lives. She was excited about the opportunity to do just that.

In our worship this morning she asked me to offer a brief explanation of the Mission Suitcase, the work of our VIM Team and some personal expectations for this journey. She shared with me the good wishes of my church family and gave me an additional gift that I could share with others while on this journey in any way I see fit. It was a generous gift.

I am realizing today this journey is really going to happen.  The Mission Suitcase is packed and already in the car.  My church family has prayed for me, and over me. That means more than you could ever know.  To hear today their good wishes and words of encouragement felt so good. Although none of them are physically going with me; I felt their hearts were joined with mine in this journey. They are a part of this journey.

This is what has made the dream come to life. As has happened in my life so many times before, has once again renewed a since of being in the Spirit of God and truly a part of a family that goes beyond flesh and bone. 

I think I have been keeping this journey at arm’s length. The changes that have occurred in my life this last year (I retired and relocated after 40 years of full-time ministry last July); the price of the Pandemic in my personal life and in my ministry; and, the absence of travelling to Israel and Palestine for the last four years, have made experiences of the past seem like such distant memories.  What has been a constant source of strength and affirmation for me was fast becoming nothing more than a faded memory that I was not sure I was ever going to get back.

Today, in our worship, I once again felt it and heard it.

I have carefully been preparing for this journey. I've made sure to do all I could do to provide whatever has been asked of me to provide. I have made sure I have all the resources I need to make this journey happen with ease and comfort.

Yes, I still need to do my last load of laundry and pack my own suitcase. Yes, mother, I even cleaned the house before leaving it to get dirty again while I am away. The car is gassed up, The mail is on hold. Someone is looking after the place while I am away. All of that is done. Those preparations have been long in the process and are being taken care of for this moment.

But today, I realized the most important preparation, one I have been silently working on with God, has been me. My spirit has so been longing for something I have been missing for too long. Long enough that a part of me was afraid it would never be there again.

Today God reached out, one more time, in words, smiles, heart-felt generous gifts, and, in presence of love, grace, and spirit, and said to me go forth in my name, know that I go with you.

So I guess the first lesson learned, and I hope you, the reader, can take with you is to never give up hope. God has promised to never leave or forsake. We can wander and even at times feel like we have abandoned. God always remains steadfast.

Are all the preparations necessary and important? Surely, the answer is, yes...well maybe not the clean the house before you leave thing...but the rest I can truly buy into in order to assure ourselves of success. However, do not get so caught up in the outward preparations that you do not first and foremost prepare yourself from the heart to be open and ready for God to do great and mighty deeds in and through you.

Today I am really and truly ready to go.

Thank you, God; and church family, for renewing my spirit. Amen.

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