How often have we trustingly said, “I will do this or that…if the Lord wills?” Well, yesterday I had an opportunity to put this to the test. Having been invited to speak at the Calvary Chapel Austria Conference months ago, I started making preparations. There is a lot to do to get ready for a trip of this magnitude. It had been close to two years since visiting our missionaries in Europe and the last time I visited I went without my wife Jenny taking one of our pastors, Alan Chappell instead. Jenny had accompanied me three years ago and was a real blessing to the women of the various fellowships and missionaries we visited. Needless to say, as much as they appreciated meeting Alan, they warned me that I had better not do that again. “We like Alan”, they said, “but you had better bring Jenny next time!” Thank the Lord, as I write this post enroute (a day late I might add) she is sitting next to me. I think we are somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere near Greenland.
A day late?
On Sunday, I taught the final verses of 1 John 5…
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-15 (ESV)
Needless to say, I had no idea when I was teaching and boldly exhorting, “Why would we want anything less than God’s will, doesn’t He know what is best? We must trust Him in all things,” that within 24 hours…almost to the hour, I would hear the Lufthansa Agent say (as we were hoisting our bags on the scale) “These passports aren’t good, you won’t be flying out today.” Shocked would be an understatement. I think it is one of the worst nightmares after all of the work of a trip like this and the built up excitement that goes along with it. We quickly called out daughter who was heading back home and asked her to come and get us. I immediately called the regional passport office in Seattle only to be told, via automated system on how to get an expedited passport that the earliest I could get an appointment for a new passport was Friday morning. This created multiple problems, as I was supposed to speak at a church service in Klagenfurt, Austria on Sunday morning and then the first of five teachings on Sunday evening at the conference in Milstadt. I tried to stay calm. Jenny was amazing, “Maybe the Lord has something else for us.” I knew this was true. At some level I knew this was a test, but I wasn’t really feeling it in that moment. And so with all kinds of emotions stirring, we headed to Seattle. I figure, it can’t hurt, we were only a half hour away and just maybe they will have compassion on us. The Lord is good and the automated apointment system was not sovereign! We walked into the office, and walked out two hours later with new passports in hand, new reservations made for the morning (same flights and no additional costs. And there you have it!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
And so, what was that all about! I don’t know for sure, but the Lord willed it, and here is the funny thing (though I wasn’t laughing about it at the time…but did think about it). We had planned on an overnight trip with Ben & Emily Spector (Croatia Missionaries) to the coastal city of Ravnij. For the life of me, I could not get a reservation for a hotel. So, the Lord knowing all things, saved us the loss of a deposit there knowing we would be leaving a day later. I will say however, we did have to pay additional for the expedite fee so in many respects it was a wash. Oh well, the Lord is good anyway you look at it. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). It all belongs to Him!
A word to the wise. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you check your passport expiration date and don’t make the assumption (as I did) that if your passport isn’t expired you are good to go. Some countries (Croatia) being one of them, require that your trip is scheduled at least three months prior to the expiration date. Didn’t see that one coming.
If your interested…here is a brief look at Our Itinerary. I will be blogging throughout our trip. These are our plans, we will see what the Lord has in store.