Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sheep and Streets

I awoke, not to the call of an alarm clock, but to the bleating of lambs.  They were what my sister-in-law called 'bums', lambs being weaned from milk to grain.  The cry was pathetic, urgent, authentic.  And in that moment my heart surrendered to what lay ahead.

It was like God was saying to me, "Stop begging for milk.  Accept what I bring and just chew the grain, because it will cause you to grow.  Where is your faith?" 

Only the day before, I had ventured out on a journey to my brother's wedding having a vacation mentality.  Surely, after the events of the past month, I deserved a break.  With only my college daughter for company, I expected to do whatever we wanted.  This would be a trip bathed in comfort. 

So when we received a phone call only minutes away from Boise, I did not receive it well.  My daughter's best friend from college was flying to Alaska and had a 24 hour layover in Seattle.  It happened to be on the very day we planned to be there.  Could we meet for lunch?

Normally, I would jump at the chance, but I had already planned my route in order to avoid driving through the city.  Truth be told, I was terrified of city driving and now I would be required to drive smack dab through the middle of it.  Furthermore, I would need to find a parking place downtown in the city center. 

All the way from Boise to eastern Oregon, I resisted and fussed.  Why did our trip have to be sabotaged with this stress and discomfort?  While I wanted to meet her friend, I didn't want the sacrifice to make it happen.  Finally, I told my daughter no, justifying my decision on the basis of not  needing to please people.  It was okay to have boundaries.  But whenever our playlist arrived at this song, I felt God's conviction.

Let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You're made of
How you lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice...

If I sing but don't have love...
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say... 
 (Lyrics by For King and Country)

I had made my decision on my own comfort and on what was easiest for me.  As I pondered these things, God began to unmask my total selfishness.  This trip was not about me, but about ministering to others.  Here was an opportunity to live by faith rather than fear, to know God's sufficiency in my weakness, to demonstrate love for my daughter, and to practice what I preach.

Enter . . . the lamb's cry.  Okay, God, I surrender to Your way, but I'm desperate for Your enabling.  I cannot do this on my own.  Prepare the way.  Go before me. 

The day was beautiful.  (And that's saying something for Seattle!) We were wowed and awed by the grandeur of the city, but most of all by God's sufficiency.  There was no long wait in traffic, but rather, we sailed right through, taking only one wrong turn.  But with Heather's friend and her mom both in the car with us, it was a silly girlfriend adventure and we got right back on track.

God showed Himself strong on my behalf, providing more than I had asked for in friendship and fun.

After a delicious lunch in a French bakery we said goodbye to our friends and I faced my next challenge--riding on a ferry across the bay.  Though excited, I was also afraid, for it was something I had never done before.  Again, God came through and wowed us with His glory.

Of course, we had to ride at the front with the wind in our faces and the view spectacular, ranking the day right up there with some of the best in my life!   I was so glad that I did not let fear determine the course of the day!  Yes, there were times I was afraid, but faith moves forward, even with trembling, and as a result, Seattle became "our new favorite city".

God used this experience to make me stronger, for when it was time to return home, we left later than planned and hit Portland in the middle of evening rush hour.  Normally this would cause great panic, but I had "the peace that passes all understanding."  I knew that all I had to do was follow the road (and the signs) and God would bring me to the other side.  I figured if He could get me through Seattle, surely, He could handle Portland as well. 

I recently received a marker which I keep in my Bible.  It has lambs lined up eating grass in the pasture.  Somehow, after all of this, it holds deeper meaning for me.  I treasure its significance as a reminder that when I am afraid, I can cry out to Jesus.  He never fails to come through for me and is my constant companion.

Next challenge?  Chicago!  I can't wait! 

p.s.  Thank you, Heather's friend and friend's mom, for providing such a day for me!  Loved it!

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