I told you there'd probably be more...
So, because of crazy suitcase and carry on weight regulations, I had to pack my Jesus Calling book in my suitcase and not carry it with me. My suitcase somehow got left in Frankfurt while Shane's made it to America with us just fine. I've been waiting for it for 3 days now. It's still not here. And I'm dying without my Jesus Calling book!!!
I'm embarrassed to admit that there are very few times in my life that I have actually THIRSTED after the Word of God. Reading the Bible has always been something I've known I need to do to grow in my relationship with the Lord, but I have not often NEEDED to read it like I need to breathe. This morning, I awoke at 5:55 (I'm not even sure what time my body thinks it is because we switched time zones so much last week) and HAD TO HAVE the Word. I asked Shane where he'd put my Bible after Sunday School on Sunday and he told me and I went and found it and asked the Lord on my way back to the bedroom where I needed to read to hear what He had for me this morning -- which I have ALSO done before and have ended up reading in Chronicles or somewhere that didn't make any sense to me...but I read it.
This morning I felt strongly that I needed to read in James (which is one of my favorite books, by the way) and I want to share with you what I found. First, I took a little detour as I was on my way to James and read the last chapter of Hebrews. Here are some of the verses that I've underlined at different times in my life from chapter 13:
verses 1 & 2 "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
verses 5b & 6 "never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, What can man do to me?"
verse 8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
verse 16 "And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
verses 20 & 21 "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
That spoke straight to my heart. Then I went ahead and read on in James, the next book, since that's where I was feeling led to read. Here's what it had to say to me this morning:
Ch. 1, verses 2-8: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
I will admit that I have been wondering "did we miss what you were telling us to do, Lord?" My answer came this morning in these verses and the ones following. We asked for wisdom and guidance (as I do every day in my parenting and life because I know on my own, it's gonna get messed up -- but specifically to this situation with Alex) and for the Lord's hand to guide us and to stop us if we were making a mistake anywhere along the way. There were MULTIPLE opportunities for the Lord to just let "circumstances" put a stop to us going. But instead of our passports not coming, or our documents getting "lost" as many do, or the doctors being too busy to get us in right away for physicals or a MILLION other things that could have gone "wrong" on their own to stop us from being able to get our paperwork in on the VERY THIN deadline that we were working against, the Lord threw open those gates and cleared the way for us to have time to spare with our deadlines and the papers arrived in plenty of time to be filed and for our trip to be underway. He could have stopped us at any time, but we had "green lights" the ENTIRE time. It is obvious that we were supposed to go -- these were not "just circumstances falling into place."
So there's more:
verse 12: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." We pray that we will persevere in whatever ways the Lord has for us to persevere with this situation.
verse 22: "do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
Then shortly after that verse, in the same chapter:
verse 27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
I kept reading in chapter 2 of James and, though I've always known these verses, I didn't remember that they were in James 2...they were exactly what I needed to hear:
verse 17-22: "in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (verse 24) You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (verse 26) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."
Reading this morning from God's Word was like taking all the time I wanted to drink from the purest water in a cool spring on a day that I thought I was going to thirst to death, until the thirst went completely away. I so desperately needed for the Lord to put this "band aid" on my wounded heart to help it begin to heal and to realize that we DIDN'T miss what the Lord was telling us -- we were obedient and followed through until He told us that it was over. We had asked last Thursday morning for the Lord to make it CLEAR to us what we were supposed to do with regard to staying in Ukraine. The answer came CLEARLY that afternoon from the mouth of our sweet Alex. He said it was time to come home.
We may never know why we went 1/2 way around the world for this boy to NOT accept our love for him, but we know that we did what we were supposed to do and extended it to him. My daily prayer for Alex is that the Lord will use that act to show His love to Alex and draw Alex to Himself so that even though we may not spend our days on earth with him, we might spend eternity in Heaven with him.