Gecko on the Promise Walk?

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Orders from the US Air Force

Keith stood in the doorway fidgeting. “Talked with a guy who was stationed at Clark AB. He told me what it’s like to live in the Philippines. Geckos live inside the house. Uh, there are flying cockroaches, and you have to watch out for cobras in your backyard.”

I threw myself on the bed and cried.

All alone on an island, no phone (before cell phones), no Internet (before the Internet), no family … all alone with geckos, flying cockroaches, and cobras! Over 8,000 miles from family. Just Keith, 18-month-old Kristin, and me.

Fear of the unknown and the little-known. We had a choice: Keith could go alone or take Kristin and me with him. There really was no choice. We had married for better or for worse. After six years of marriage, I thought I might get the “worse” out of the way early.

When we landed at Clark AB on Friday the 13th. We found geckos, flying cockroaches, cobras, and challenges, but we also found a land of beauty and opportunity.

Orders from God

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, … Genesis 12:1-4

Abram gathered his wife, servants, nephew, and possessions, and started walking.

Over 400 miles later, they ended up in Canaan, a land filled with people who worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth. Baal was believed to have authority over the rain, wind, and clouds, and Ashtoreth brought fertility to her worshippers. Cult prostitution was a part of their worship.

Alone in a strange land and evil practices. Alone with a promise.

“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7

Testing at Clark AB

The stories about the Philippines were accurate.

A captain picked us up to go to dinner the first night. I slipped into the back seat.

Yikes! A gecko on the hood scurried up the windowshield.

Jet-lagged and partied out, Keith unfolded Kristin’s rollaway bed. A giant cockroach shot from the bed. This was the biggest and strongest cockroach either of us had ever seen. Keith pulled off his size 11 shoe and pummeled the cockroach; it darted from corner to corner, Keith swung his shoe from side-to-side swatting the B-52 bomber. It landed on the wall. Keith hammered it, and it fell to the floor. It zoomed past his head. Five or six poundings later, Keith completed his mission.

That night, Kristin slept with me in my twin bed.

Cockroaches and geckos served as gentle, preparatory challenges.

Two kids from Oklahoma with a toddler on a sojourn.

Smiling faces emerging from Nipa huts.

Children playing with cockroaches.

Machine guns on every corner in our off-base housing subdivision.

Strip clubs and prostitution surrounding the base.

Sniper fire between our house and the base.

Typhoons threatening our sanity.

Off-base water unfit for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Broken marriages distressing families.

Testing in Canaan

God’s commands, the promise of blessing, and obedience brought testing.

Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. Genesis 12:10

In Egypt, Abram’s marriage was tested. Sarai was beautiful, and Abram was afraid that the Egyptians would see her beauty and kill Abram, so he asked her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister.

“When the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.” Genesis 12:15

Pharaoh blessed Abram with many riches because of Sarai, but God sent great plagues to the house of Pharaoh. Pharaoh learned that Sarai was Abram’s wife and that the plagues were a result of him taking Sarai into his household. He sent Sarai and Abram away with all their possessions.

Walking the Promised Marriage

This marriage that God had given us had its wanderings. God led the three us from the Philippines to the East Coast, West Coast, Italy, Mid-America, and again to the West Coast. Our extended family did not understand our lifestyle and what God was calling us to do. For that matter, I don’t think that we understood what God had in store for us.

Each place had its blessings and its trials, and with God’s leading, they brought us closer to each other and to God.

Walking the Promised Land

And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. Genesis 13:3-4

Abram and Lot, his nephew, were very rich in livestock, silver, and gold, and the land could not support all the livestock. Abram told Lot to choose the land that he would settle in, and Abram went the opposite direction.

Finally, Abram and Sarai were alone with God.

“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, … Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.” Genesis 13:14-18

God’s revelations to Abram and Sarai were gentle and sure. When Abram was 99-years-old, God changed his name to Abraham and revealed to him that he would be the father of many nations and that Sarai’s name would be changed to “Sarah,” for she would bear a child, Isaac, with whom God would establish an everlasting covenant, resulting in the nation of Israel and blessing many nations.

By faith, Abram and Sarai left their land, their family, their lifestyle, and trusted God to lead them into the Promised Land.

By faith, they walked the promise.

By faith, Abraham bought the cave and field at Machpelah where he buried Sarah.

By faith, Abraham and Sarah trusted God to bring descendants to Isaac.

By faith, Abraham and Sarah obeyed God and lived the promise

This week, take a moment to prayerfully share in the Comment Section your responses to these three questions:

  1. What are the promises God has given you?
  2. How is He leading you on the path to the promises?
  3. What are you learning about the nature of God as He leads you?

My Prayer

Father, thank You for the promises that You have given us in Your Word. Thank You for calling us to live differently and leading us in Your promises. Almighty God, stepping out of our comfort zone is difficult. We’re strangers walking this world, and sometimes, it’s hard to know if we’re really walking the path You have set before us. Take us by our right hands and help us to know that You are truly leading us towards the promises that You have for us. We love Your leading; we love You, Lord. Amen

 

 

 

What’s God’s promise for you … “so that”?

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And He brought forth His people with joy,
His chosen ones with a joyful shout.
He gave them also the lands of the nations,
That they might take possession of the fruit of the peoples’ labor,
So that they might keep His statutes
And observe His laws,
Praise the Lord! Psalm 105: 42-45

Psalm 105 retells the story of God bringing the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity, through the desert, and into the Promised Land.

Before they reached the long-promised land, they endured 400 years of harsh captivity in the land of Egypt.

Then Moses, an Israelite who had been brought up in the palace of Pharoah, and murdered an Egyptian, appeared from exile on the back side of the desert. Moses told the Israelites that he was back to lead them from Egypt to the Promised Land.

God was gracious to the Israelites as He empowered Moses to bring plagues upon the Egyptians but spared the Israelites.

Finally, Pharaoh released the Israelites but soon pursued them into the desert. Pharaoh’s army quickly approached the Israelites … the Red Sea the only barrier between Pharaoh and freedom.

Through Moses, God parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites crossed on dry land to the other side. They watched the Egyptian soldiers enter the dry land and the water walls crash over them.

Egypt and the Red Sea behind them, the Israelites stepped into the desert where they endured hunger and thirst to learn that Jehovah was their provider, their healer, their sustainer.

By day, God led the Israelites by the cooling cloud, and by night by the warming pillar of fire.

Psalm 105 recounts the trials that the Israelites encountered and how God brought them through the trials to victory.

Psalm 105:42-45 tell us why God was gracious … “so that” …

We sometimes forget that God brings us through the trials for a reason, “so that.” We forget that the miracles and promises are for “so that.”

In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:18

And what do the first fruits of God’s creatures do?

visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27b

What is the “so that” of the miracle or promise that is your heart’s cry?

My prayer for you:

Our Great Sustainer, You delight in promising Your children good things. Thank You for stretching Your children, so that we learn to depend upon You. Soften our hearts, so that we might recognize the reason why we are enduring trials. Show us the “so that” and empower us to accomplish it well.

What blessings do you possess?

Moses

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us. Ephesians 1:3-7

As children of God, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and Jesus has lavished the riches of His grace upon us.

Several weeks before her grandson’s 17th birthday, his grandmother looked through the years of photographs she had taken of her grandson. She chose five photographs that depicted the wonder of life, celebration of holidays, and significant growth. She designed a card and wrote about their adventures together. She uploaded the card and ordered it to arrive before his birthday.

On the day of his birthday, she called to sing him “Happy Birthday,” but he was sleeping. She told his mother that a card awaited him. Then she texted him. He texted her that he would pick it up soon.

Now there was a history that birthday cards contained money. A week went by. The grandmother called to remind him that a card awaited him. He said that he would make the 5-minute trip to her house soon.

Another week went by. No grandson.

The gift awaited him. A gift filled with love and creativity. A gift of substance and provision. Yet, he took 2 1/2 weeks to receive the gift.

Once he received the gift, he realized the love, the time, and the love that the grandmother poured into the preparation of the card. He was touched and blessed.

I wonder how many blessings Jesus has for me that I have not taken the time to come to Him and receive?

My prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, show us the blessings that we have not taken the time to receive from You. You have lavished every spiritual blessing upon Your children, and yet, we have not reached out to You to receive the blessings and to possess them. Thank You for Your patience and the blessings that You have created for us from the foundation of the world.

What blessings are you possessing? What blessings do you need to possess?

What’s your journey? Gratitude Adventure?

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I have walked Malaysian beaches, galloped through the woods in the Philippines, ridden an elephant in Thailand, dodged the traffic in Delhi, climbed the Great Wall of China, floated along the Venetian canals, skied the Italian Dolomites and Austrian Alps, wept gazing at the Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, pondered the graves of Arlington National Cemetery, kissed my husband atop the Taj Mahal, renewed my marriage vows in the Garden Tomb of Jesus, relished fireworks at the foot of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, slept in the hotel room that Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in, and enjoyed picnics under the Sequoias.  I have been to the mountaintop and to the pit of despair; and I have chosen to walk the path of gratitude.

This crooked, uphill, downhill, sometimes overgrown path that I have chosen as my life’s journey has taken me to many destinations; yet, it was the journey, not the destinations that helped shape who I am.

My journey is one of stretching, making myself a little uncomfortable, so that I am always striving for something beyond what I have proven I can accomplish, honing myself, and, at times, choosing to reinvent myself.

Reinvention and innovation. That’s the language of today’s business environment. It’s uncertain and uncomfortable. It takes purposeful stretching and flexibility.

In July, my wonderful husband of 41 years, Keith, stopped me as we walked Vatican City with a group of students we were leading on a study-abroad course, “Who would have thought that a poor Tulsa girl would be doing this?”

That poor Tulsa girl became a Christ-follower when she was about eight-years-old at Vacation Bible School.

I remember reading my Bible and trying to understand it. Oh how I loved the Lord. I basked in His creation and loved taking walks alone, so that I could talk with Him. The journey was a delight. He led me beside the still waters.

Jesus walked me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in my late teens. All the while, I felt His presence. God sent a preacher who had suffered from polio and was confined to braces and crutches to mentor me through the tough recuperation and to be an example of a Christ-follower whose joy in the Lord spills out onto others.

Keith and I married, even though he thought I would not live to be 30. The love of a man like Keith is far more precious than rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. He blessed me through his selfless, servant-leader approach to marriage.

Trials, challenges, and mountaintops have enlarged our borders as we have delighted in the ways of the Lord.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:5

What a precious promise! God has given me the desires of my heart as He has stretched and continues to stretch me into the woman who will accomplish the works He planned for me from before the foundation of the world.

I am grateful for this life’s gratitude adventure.

My prayer for you:

Father, You have directed our footsteps and lit our paths. May we bless You and point people to You as You pour out Your Spirit upon us. May we show forth Your great compassion, mercy, and grace. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Wishing you a journey of joy and adventure as you stretch your capabilities and impact others for good.