It's a small world. We hear that phrase often but are still surprised when confronted with the reality.
On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I had one of those experiences. I was at a coffee plant in city of Jarabacoa, in the middle of a country where I had never been, and I ran into someone I knew. We had a good time catching up. I was surprised to say the least. It was odd to run into a church connection when I was in a place I had never visited, a full day’s travel from the United States.
For me the event was a reminder of how big God is. No matter where you go or where life takes you, God is there. You may think you can get away from everything when you get away but God is with you always. It's a small world after all.
Moses said to the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” —EXODUS 14: 13–14
I am waiting on Thee, Lord, to open the way. —J. HUDSON TAYLOR
Rule #5: Stay calm and confident and give God time to work.
We hear the phrase “leave room for the Lord” relatively frequently. The phrase is not just about leaving room for Christ’s presence in our lives but also about leaving time for God to work. This endeavor requires patience which is not always easy. We live in a world that tells us to be proactive in everything. If you’re not doing something to actively resolve the problems you are facing, then you aren’t doing anything. However, as we learn from the Israelites facing the Red Sea, waiting on the Lord’s timing is the best action you can take. The Israelites had every reason to be afraid and try to flee in their own direction, but they also had every reason to trust that the God that had brought them out of Egypt would not abandon them. They waited, and God provided the way out in his own time. Many times there are circumstances that we cannot change or control, and, in those moments, we must turn it over to God and wait for Him to reveal the next step forward.
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” —EXODUS 14: 15
It was a path where faith alone could walk, and step by step in faith they trod it until the other shore was reached. —JOHN RICHIE
Rule #6: When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.
Have you ever had a problem so huge, so daunting, that you just wanted to ignore it until it disappeared? The best way to handle this type of problem is to considering what small step will move the project forward rather than thinking about the larger issue. Many of life’s issues work out this way. The end goal might seem unclear or unreachable, but the next step is something obvious. Faith works this way, too. Following God means taking one step in the direction he is leading and then taking the next. Each step requires trust that God will provide for you without worrying about what the end result might be. Do you trust in God’s plan for your life and take each step trusting that God knows the larger plan even when you don’t see it?
Running toward God
A couple of years ago a friend asked if I would run a half marathon with her. I thought how in the world was I going to run a half marathon when I couldn’t even run down the street. I literally was running on empty. Physically empty, emotionally empty, and spiritually empty. My children were little and taking up a lot of my time. My marriage was in shambles. I wasn’t taking time for myself. I was a mess and had quit talking to God. I was trying to do everything myself without Him.
With the encouragement of some very dear friends I started running. First it was just around the track, then three miles, 6 miles, 10 miles, and finally 13.1 miles. I enjoyed the fellowship and accountability with these buddies. We talked about life and our relationship with God. I began to eat a more healthy diet and began to sleep better. Most importantly I started talking to God again. I wept and ran. I laughed and ran. I smiled and ran. People going down the road most likely thought I was crazy. I didn’t care. I ran with my arms wide open to the most loving Savior. I started reading the Bible daily again.
One day while I was in the church library (Go there..it’s great!!) I picked up a study on Hebrews. I took away so much from this short study. One of my favorite verses was Hebrews 12:1-2. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. “
I had gone through a really tough time but what a blessing God had placed in the midst of that storm. He had walked me through it. He had placed people in my life that had kept me going. He brought complete strangers into my life that are still holding me up today. I’m so humbled and thankful for the journey because I’m a completely different person because of it. God did that. Jenni did not.
Is life easy and perfect? No. Do I do what I’m supposed to everyday? No. I’m still a sinner. I know that God forgives me. I know that life will continue to have times of trouble but I know who to run to when they do.
I did run my first half marathon. It was awesome! I prayed for one person each mile of the race. I prayed for myself the last mile. I prayed that seeking God daily would always be number one on my to do list. At the end this verse came to my mind. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:10) He is what I need the most. No matter what I know that God is for me and he wants us to live joyfully for Him. He is enough so that we don’t have to be because we never will.
Armed to Serve
While my memory isn’t always the best, I do remember that fateful day in preschool when the teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It will probably come as no surprise that my response was police officer. The crisp uniform, the handheld radio, and a car with flashing lights that had the ability to stop law breakers were just a few of the attractions.
The Lord has called me to into this profession by reminding me on a daily basis that I have a duty to protect and serve others and that, by doing so, I am serving Him. Paul wrote in Romans 13:4: "For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." Metaphorically speaking, police officers are generally thought of as sheepdogs. We guard the herd from the wolves and punish the wolves in hopes that they won’t return.
During my sixteen years with the Chattanooga Police Department, I have witnessed far too many tragedies, made multiple arrests, and impacted countless lives. After pursuing violent criminals and being in life or death situations or rescuing victims on the verge of death, police officers are expected to go home as if it were just an ordinary day. Over time, so many difficult experiences build up, and I am reminded of Romans 5:3-5 which says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Each day that I go into work I put on two uniforms. One is a polyester shirt and pants with leather gear and boots, and, of course, a Sig Sauer P220 45 caliber pistol. The other is the “Full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10). “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:14-17). Both uniforms are essential in order to be safe, helpful, and faithful. Without His words and directions, I would be lost. I know that no matter how tough a day I have had, He is there walking beside me and guiding me along the way. In fact, there have been several times where He has had to carry me.
Everyone suffers in life, but if dealt with properly by living a Christ-like life, challenging times will produce perseverance, character, and hope. And although most people won't need to pack a Sig for vacation this summer, wherever you go, you should always wear the "Full Armor of God" so that you are ready for anything that comes your way.
Hi I’m Abby. On Friday I graduated from GPS and am going to Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio next year. When I started going to youth group in 7th grade I didn’t really know what to expect. I went on Sunday nights mainly because my parents wanted me to. Once I got in high school, youth had become more important to me than I ever expected. I wanted to be at youth every chance I got. Through youth I have grown so much in my faith, have amazing friends and mentors, and probably the thing that has impacted me the most is helping me find a love for helping others. A big part of what Signal Crest talks about, both in church and in youth, is not only growing in our own faith but sharing that faith with others. This can happen in many ways but the way I feel I can best share my faith is through service to others. For the past two years, twice a week after school I have gone to Glenwood Community Center to help tutor elementary school children. Most of the kids at the community center don't know that I'm a Christian. Tutoring there allows me to share my faith with them through helping them and showing them selfless love.
Last summer for the high school mission trip we went to Washington, D.C. to work with a group called Team Effort. Each day we were there we worked at a different location doing different sorts of activities. One day we went to a farm. The next day we did yard work for elderly people yard who were unable to do it themselves. Another day we played with small children at a summer camp and led a Bible lesson. The last day we were in D.C. is the day that has stuck with me the most. That morning we woke up and split up into groups. Each group was given cups, a pitcher of water, and a bunch of hotdogs. Our job was to go to different parks around D.C. and hand out hotdogs to the homeless. As we walked around and handed out hotdogs and water, we had conversations with several different people. I still think about one of the men we talked to very often. As we were packing everything up and getting ready to leave, a shirtless man in tan cargo pants came up to us and asked us for a hotdog. As he stood there and ate his hotdog he talked with us. The first part of this conversation is what stands out the most about our whole trip to D.C. The first thing he did was ask us who we were and why we were doing this. We shared that we were from Tennessee and just like helping, but I have thought about this question a lot more than just during that conversation.
As I thought about all we had done that week, I asked myself why I was doing it. Why had I chosen to come on this trip to D.C., and what had I wanted to get from it? Part of it was that I love my youth group and wanted to hang out and grow with them through this experience, but the main reason is that I truly love helping others. Not only did he ask us the question of why were we doing what we were doing, but he asked us about us. About where we went to school, if we had any siblings, and what we like to do when we aren’t at school. After we had each shared about ourselves, he told us that before he had become homeless he liked to travel and visit museums. He told us that if we had some time that we should go to the zoo and the Smithsonian. He said he liked them and that they are free. Through this conversation, I realized that not only did our group care about helping others, but that this man cared about us, too.
As I look back on our trip to D.C., and as I am volunteering, I often ask myself why am I doing it. Am I trying to do it for me, or am I doing it for a bigger reason than that? God has given me more than I could ever ask for. I feel the way I can share that with others is through service. I hope that through what I do others can see the love I have for Christ and can share how much He has done for me and can do for them, too. Matthew 5 talks about the salt of the Earth. Salt is used to add flavor, whether it is good or bad. As the salt of the Earth we must share the flavor with others. By doing good in the world around us, whether big or little, doing good helps us spread a good flavor everywhere. Jesus is the light of the Earth, and, as His followers, we are supposed to reflect that light. We can show people the light in us by the way we act and treat others.
One of the opportunities I am looking forward to the most at Wittenberg is working with the promise neighborhood. A new neighborhood in downtown Springfield has partnered with Witternberg. Students (and the community as a whole) have many different roles in this neighborhood. They have started a community garden which environmental science students are using to teach the residents how to take care of a garden and harvest the food for their neighbors. Some students work with children, helping them with their school work and playing games with them. Through work with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood, I can combine my love for environmental science and service to others.
As I leave Signal Crest and youth for college next year, there is a lot I am taking with me, but the most important thing is the love that I have found for serving others.
Thank you all who find this testimony worthy of your time!
I am older than dirt, and encounter God daily, though my vision can be blurred and dusty. Sometimes my GPS is providing clear communique, and other times I take my own route.
I was baptized, raised, and confirmed in the United Methodist Church. I attended Sunday School and youth. College was a religious detour, but I resumed attending church intermittently. I was not attending church when we moved from Michigan to Signal Mountain because of my husband’s job. I was deeply grieved by the move. I left family, friends, and a successful sales career behind, and what I refer to as my "desert" period that lasted approximately a year.
But, oh the plans God had for me!
One of our movers introduced me to Moody radio. I was hooked and in the Word daily, but still not attending church. About a year after we moved, I was invited to Signal Crest for a baptism. As I departed, I thought, "I need this church and this church needs me!" With time, participation, and education, God, Signal Crest and I have walked, and continue to walk, the road of a growing friendship.
God's GPS and mine were on different routes nearly twenty two years ago, but God knew the Signal Mountain route was the GPS for my recommitment to Him. It took me drowning in grief to be resurrected in life with Him. Since I can be directionally challenged and try to control my own route, I ask God to GPS me back to His route on the golden road to the pearly gates.
The journey can be a challenge, but there is no other route for me. I thank Him for His sacrifice, love, and forgiving grace. I ask to continue to be guided to grow not only into the Christian woman He created me to be, but to be His humble disciple.
It would be an honor to share your journey -- let's travel together.
Amen and Amen
Each year our youth group has the privilege of going on several different mission trips in summer. To name just a few -- the Appalachian Mountains, Washington D.C., and Mexico. This summer we have students serving on Middle High Mission Week at Camp Lookout, in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, and in Mexico.
My favorite was last summer’s trip to Washington D.C. Instead of going to the Appalachian mountains as in years past, this was a new experience, and I was excited. It was also the first time I had ever seen the city.
When we got there, one of the ministries we were a part of was taking care of the kids at a community center in a low income neighborhood. Each one of the people from our group was assigned to look after the kids of a certain age, and I was assigned the eight and nine year olds. There were three of them, and they were as sweet as could be, but were also some of the sassiest kids I’ve ever met. We played inside for a while, but the girls decided they wanted to wait for their turn in the pool outside on the picnic table.
Since it was summertime, it was bright outside, and I was wearing my sunglasses while I waited with them. I was sitting at the table with these girls when all of a sudden the oldest stops talking and scoots over towards me on the bench. She got really close to my face and loudly exclaimed, “Why you wearin’ those?” talking about my sunglasses. I was caught a little off-guard, but I told her that they were to protect my eyes from the bright sun.
She kind of shakes her head and says, “You see, you gonna develop a dependency.” Then she gently takes the glasses off my face, folds them up, and puts them on the table. She patted my shoulder and said matter-of-factly, “See, I told you you didn’t need ‘em,” and that was that.
It was only a minute or two, but that experience with that little girl made me realize something about my own faith. I had been hiding behind so many pointless things that I was shading myself from God’s light. All I needed was someone to take the sunglasses off.
Through these trips, I have been able to both experience, and share, God’s love and grace. I was able to learn about myself, my team, and about the people we served, all while growing closer to God. Thank you for all you do as a church to support our youth in serving others.