Having just returned from Costa Rica, and nine days of ministry, I am back in my where-I-like-to-be-spot...on the couch in the corner in my pj's...with a cup of coffee. I'll need a few sitting-moments over the course of the next few days to continue to process what I just experienced. It happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
The Lord graciously used this retreat - We saw, right-before-our-eyes:
- Relationships restored
- Identities renewed
- Tired-bodies-and-minds rested
- Frustrations relieved
- Dried-up-spiritual-hearts refreshed (it always reminds me of how much better my plants look after I've watered them...sometimes, my poor plants are in such despair)
- Hair-cuts and foot-washings-plus-toe-nail-polishing acts of love rekindling spirits
- Friendships re-connected
- Daily panic attacks released
- Hope received
- Massages and creative crafts reversing tension
- A birthday party, complete with presents for each attendee, re-energizing
- Counseling (it's amazing what an hour can do) rendering hope
- ...and, THANK the Spirit of the Lord, messages reminding these women: THEIR STORIES MATTER, and they do not have to be LOST IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR MISSION.
To all this I say, "Me, too!"
The Lord even did a work of reminding me...and, I received a sweet lesson on HOPE from Him, right there in Costa Rica.
This week's thought is about having hope when right in front of you is nothing but hard...
When what you are facing is not easy...
When fear of what's ahead is crippling...
When it's hard to breathe deep, let alone breathe at all...
When your palms are sweaty, your heart is pounding, and your mind is in that crazy-cycle...
When looking down is easier than looking up...
When you're so focused on the journey ahead, you forget to marvel at the beauty-of-the-now in the midst of the journey...
This was a simple reminder.
I know these things.
In less scary moments, I can tick the points off in a list.
So, what the Lord reminded me is that I need to nail those points down in my heart and mind before I find myself on the precipice of a new, and difficult, moment.
Maybe you need them, too...
It's true, we need the tools in our tool box before we begin the work!
I went zip-lining through the Costa Rican rain forest.
My "people" talked me into it.
My husband said, "This is a great opportunity. You can't go all the way to Costa Rica and not experience this!"
My head was saying, "You know you want to, you know you do...get your brave on..."
My heart was saying, "NO WAY!"
Head or heart, that was the fluctuating on-going debate for about 24 hours.
Paying for this adventure was easy.
I had to do this the day before.
I just handed them my credit card.
Following the pay came the hard part...
...Taking the next steps:
Getting in the departing van at the hotel.
Dressing in the harness that would support me - "Would you check it again, sir, just to make sure it's tight?" "Maybe a third time?" "Ok, four's all you do...understood!"
Stepping onto the tram that would take us to the top -
Listening to my friends say, "Look at that creek down below..." and, being reminded just how high up I'd be, and how far down that creek I'd soon be flying over was... (Gulp!)
Before I knew it I was standing on the platform.
My apparatus was connected to a wire. Well, two wires. But, they weren't very big wires. My ring finger was bigger than the wires. I checked.
No, I didn't go first.
But, I didn't go last, either.
I put myself in the middle...
By the time I stepped up to the test...it was do or die. I'm sure I was sure that die would win.
I took a few deep breaths and trusted my harness, the people who put it on me, and the wires that held me. I jumped.
Here's what helps us hope, just for future reference. Title these points:
(Because in the hard, hope always helps!)Someone has already gone before.
They experienced it and lived to tell the story - Maybe I will, too. When I watched them do it, I figured, I can do it, too.
Someone, who was waiting at the other side, was cheering me on
...and waiting for me with outstretched hands and a huge smile on her face (that was Karla, the Costa Rican woman, who could tell I was the big chicken in the group). Knowing she was there, and seeing her smile, warmed and relaxed my soul. I just "fixed my eyes on Karla."
A good word.
You know what was going through my head as I zipped down that line to the other side, "Great is Thy Faithfulness..." I sang it all the way... Yep, I preached it in song to my heart.
An encouraging community. A community who poured out love on me in multiple ways to just say, "You and Jesus - you've got this!" Not to mention, they made me laugh. Remember that creek down below. At one point, on the tram, one of the gals in our group, who will remain unmentioned, Christina (if you're reading this), said, "A creep? What's a creep? I want to see a creep," as she leaned over the railing to look. The creep was sitting next to her (me), but the creek was down below. That popped into my head, as well, as I sped down the wire. Laughter is REALLY GOOD medicine. Besides that, my people gave me accountability - no way would they have let me get out of this - and were there to "spur me on," even if it meant they had to give me the first push. (Hebrews 10:25)
Doing the same thing again and again (practicing the steps). I didn't just do one zip line, I did ten! Everyone kept asking me, "Which one is your favorite? The longest? The shortest? The fastest?" I always answered, "Ask me again when I'm done." By the time I got to #10, I yelled, "My favorite is this one..." Karla laughed, and said, "Because it is the last?" Well...maybe...but by #10, I was in the rhythm. My deep breaths were shorter breaths; my jump-offs were quicker; I actually looked around a whole lot more and was in absolute AWE of the beauty; I finally felt free to fly through the trees without any sense of panic...
Moving forward in hope always requires trust.
Jesus knows it's a process, but by #10, we may just be enjoying ourselves in the HARD!
Right there, on a zip line (ok, it took ten zip lines) I was reminded of how to find hope in the hard.
Now, I pray you can find it, as well...