This post is dedicated to all those who prayed for us prior and during our holiday. You know who you are. Thank you and God bless you!
Let me share with you some of the wonderful things we have experienced during our last holiday as an encouragement to you of how God loves to engage with us through the personal little details of our life, and to show his love for us by reaching down to us in weird and wonderful ways.
Our adventure began from the very moment we got on the plane. For days prior to our departure, I had been nagging my husband to arrange the start of our monthly sponsorship of a child in the Kibera Slum, which I had felt the Lord put on my heart ever since I watched the Comic Relief Program all those weeks ago. There was something in me that felt stirred to have this organised before going off on our holiday. We so nearly didn’t do it, because we were so caught up in leaving all our workload in order and in making all the preparations for our holiday, but I kept on at my husband and finally, the very day before we took off, we did it: the first payment of our sponsorship for this child went through. What was our surprise when we got on the plane to discover on the pocket of the seat in front of us a little card with the words “Comic Relief” on it and the picture of the very celebrity whose testimony of his time in Kibera Kenya, brought me to my knees. On the card it said: “Sponsor a child, save one life at a time”. (http://donate.ba-flyingstart.com/funraiser/NeilWalker/). I cannot tell you how that made me feel. A shiver run down my spine at the thought of how God directs our every step, though we may feel we are ultimately in control. It felt like God was smiling at us for acting on His prompting to rescue a child from misery, abject poverty and possible death. The thing is that despite having flown repeatedly as a teenager, even to the other side of the world, I have grown increasingly nervous and anxious about flying over the last few years, and the thought of 9 hours stuck on a plane was not the best start to my holiday. Having children sure changes your perspective on things. I had however specifically asked many people for prayer about this, and finding that little card the moment I sat down before take off, reassured me that regardless of how I felt, God is always in control and all I have to do is put my trust in HIM. A few days into our holiday, I checked my emails and there it was: a picture of our sponsored child. A beautiful girl called Mercy. My name is Mercedes which means Mercy. How about that for a special touch from the Lord himself? Call me crazy. I know what I see!
It was our second day in Florida. Once we had got over the jet lag and we were ready to attack all the theme parks, we opened the front door of the house we were staying at expecting to experience new and exciting things, knowing that we were covered in prayer not only for a safe journey but in my prayer requests to my friends I had specifically asked that opportunities would arise during our holiday to experience the presence of the Lord in new and special ways, and so we did! As I walked out of the front door on the morning of our second day there, my eyes immediately took to the sky. I often look up being fully aware that we spend our lives looking down, somber and burdened with the worries of the day. I like starting the day looking up. It is amazing the things one sees when you search with all your heart, mind and soul. What was my surprise to see this little plane writing letters in the sky. At first I thought : “It must be one of those romantic souls in love declaring his affection for a particular lady”, but something in me held me still on that very spot whilst my husband and the kids were getting in the car. After a few minutes I asked my husband to take a look and suddenly, we both saw it: The word “JESUS” written in the sky at the very moment we were getting out of the house. How about that for encountering God in an intimate way? As we left very early every morning to avoid the mad queues at the parks, there was not a soul in our street. I wonder how many others were out and about looking up at that very moment. What are the chances of that? AMAZING! But it did not end there. We hanged around and eventually the plane managed to write in the sky the words: JESUS LIVES. By the time the second word was written, the smoke forming the first word had dissipated and so we decided to just take a shot of the word JESUS.
One day we visited Seaworld and the first thing we did there was of course go and see the killer-whale show. As soon as we sat down, I was struck by the following:
When you look at the center of that picture, you can see the word “Believe” which had been the name of the Killer-whale show for quite some time. A few days after we were there, a new name was given to a brand new performance. The Show “Believe” ceased to exist. Again, what are the chances of that? But here is how reading that word as soon as we sat down spoke to me. I have had my blog now for 3 years. For half of that time my blog was called “BELIEVE” but a year ago or so I felt I had to rename it and so went from “BELIEVE” to “The Truth will set you free”. To the average reader this coincidence may seem very far-fetched, but I know how seeing that very word and the message put across by the whale trainers throughout the killer-whale show spoke into my heart about God and where He is leading me right now. If you look today, you will see that I have changed the name of the blog back to “BELIEVE”. I feel it is important to make a point of remembering daily those special moments when the Spirit of God speaks right into our life and situation.
Another wonderful moment during our holiday when we felt so close to God was when we visited the Kennedy Space Center. It is one thing to hear about a shuttle going into space or about man landing on the moon. It is quite another to actually stand on the very place where much of it got started and continues even today, though due to budgetary cuts may cease to develop. An unforgettable moment was watching a 3-D video of the adventure of man’s travels into space. There is a point in the video where galaxies, planets and the formation of stars is explained, and you feel like you are literally floating in the middle of space witnessing the universe forming and evolving. Tears streamed down my face as at that moment I felt it was just me alone with God. It suddenly hits you how breathtaking, inexplicable and wondrous is God’s creation and how it is nothing short of miraculous to have a planet amongst the vast expand of the universe with the perfect conditions for human and animal life, and more than that, a paradise that is a delight to the senses and a privilege to live in, a paradise which we are slowly but surely destroying. I refer you to an old post of mine entitled “Stop Press!! This will blow your mind” (https://mercedesphere.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/has-the-global-crisis-got-the-better-of-you-yet/). It is not as good as being at the Kennedy Space Center but you will get the idea.
The wonderful God-encounters continued right throughout our holiday, but without a doubt the highlight for me has to be my dream of encountering dolphins in the ocean coming true. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have dreamt about being in the water with dolphins, not just because I have always wanted to do it and it is a thought which has often occupied my mind, but because there was a spiritual significance to that dream becoming a reality. During our second week we travelled to the Florida Keys. Nothing prepares you for the beauty of those islands, of the abundance of marine and bird life and the colours and shades of light reflected on the vegetation, the sky and the water. There are very few places which I have visited that I would repeat again, but the Florida Keys is without a doubt one of them. The house we rented for our vacation was just by the edge of the water in a secluded bay and so it was imperative that at least for part of our stay there we hired a small boat to explore and move around the area. First day out on the boat, fifteen minutes into our outing, my daughter spots a pod of dolphins just a few meters away from us. The reality of seeing these gracious and unique animals in the wild surpassed my dreams and expectations a thousand times. As they swam in different directions looking for fish, we were able to turn our engine on and off and follow them around, but I was torn between the need to capture the moment on camera and my even greater urge to actually make time stand still to take in every second of that experience. Eventually, I put the camera down and just watched in awe and utter delight. After an hour of following the dolphins around, they began to head out to sea again, but just before they did they came right by the boat and one of them popped its head up right out of the water, looked at us and down under he went at amazing speed. I was bewitched! I could not speak. It was everything I had imagined and so much more. There is a clear connection between these animals and us. You just feel it as they look right into your eyes.
I thought nothing else could top up that moment, but a few days later we were due to go to the Marathon Dolphin Research Center. I fulfilled my long life dream of swimming with the dolphins and experiencing their intelligence and sensitivity in a personal way. They do say that a picture speaks more than a thousand words, and because I could write a book just about that experience alone, I would rather leave you with an image.
I leave you with some more images of our God-encounters.
WE NEED TO LEARN TO SEE AND HEAR GOD THROUGH THE SMALL THINGS IN ORDER TO DISCERN HIS PRESENCE AND GUIDANCE IN THE BIG THINGS
Throughout my life but particularly as a result of this holiday. I have been left wondering: If the universe, the earth and everything in it is as beautiful, mysterious and captivating as it is, how much more so is the God whose creation is but a mere and minute reflection of His Glory, Majesty and Power?