Before you panic at the title of my post… we are not experiencing any kind of physical crisis! In fact… it’s no crisis at all. We’re at summer camp-meetings in Fredericton, NB and it’s allllll good!
Let me tell you how good…
Heart of Stone…
Heart of Flesh
Have you ever had God start to open things up (in your heart) and dig around a bit?
Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable and sometimes we try to keep it together on the outside when, on the inside, we want to drop the façade and be real. We might even want to have an good ol’ honest-to-goodness cry because you know God is dealing with you about something close to your heart.
That’s happened to me a number of times this week.
We left France pretty wrung out and probably a little hardened by an accumulation of things… wondering Why God? … Why this? … Why that? … Why in this manner and not that? … Why on this timeline as opposed to that? Why, why, why?
Camp meeting was to be a time of refreshing… part of the whole theme of the summer…. And it hasn’t disappointed.
The main speaker was unable to be there due to flight problems for the first two nights, but local ministers pinch-hitted and Man! did they do a phenomenal job!!
I LOVE it when God really gets down deep into where you’re living so-to-speak, and starts working on things that need it. One of the things that I particularly appreciate this year is that he’s doing it through very familiar voices…
- ministers I know personally
- ministers who’ve helped us & watched our family grow over the past 15-20 years.
- known voices…
- trusted voices….
There’s something to be said about familiar voices. God’s voice speaking through friends… it’s awesome!
Anyway… I’m thankful that these familiar voices are preparing us to return to France in a month’s time and to tackle the next months and years. We ride a wave of strength which, while it ultimately comes from the Lord, is made up of, and comes from, “family”.
Can I spend some time cataloguing just a few of the little things that have been a blessing and an encouragement to us and let us know that God is a personal God, who expresses his care in even the smallest details?
- From the time we arrived in Saint John, we’ve been sleeping in our own bed… literally. The folks that we’re staying with hauled out our original bed from storage and set that up in the guest room… it just feels like home.
- Friends lent us a vehicle for a couple of weeks and, unknowingly, it was the exact same type of car that we’d had prior to leaving for France. Climbing in it just fits like a glove and makes us feel at home.
- Yesterday morning when stopping at the passport office, short on change for the meter and with no credit card capability…. I happened to find myself in a spot with over an hour left on the meter.
- Yesterday afternoon, Liz & I were looking for a bit of quiet over coffee and I logged into my Starbucks app for the first time in 179 weeks (3.5 yrs) and there was a $35 balance on my card…. free coffee & snacks!
- I needed a journal and found an empty one – brand new – in one of the boxes I’d left behind and had forgotten about.
These are, without a doubt, little things, but I don’t take them for granted. These little things mean something… they mean that the Lord knows even the smallest details and blesses us. I’m grateful to Him!
The kids continue to be enormously blessed by their time home.
On Sunday Sophie was included in music for the youth emphasis service and surprised even us by singing a bit of a solo (listen here and the 8:10 mark).
The previous night, Saturday, they got to join Liz & I with friends out on a speedboat on the Saint-John River System. It’s something that I grew up doing, but that they had never done. They had a blast!
Currently, they are at the district youth camp at Green Hill Lake in central New Brunswick… surrounded by hills and valleys as you can see in the bottom picture.
In the absence of a stable, established youth group back in our part of France, I can’t even begin to say how much this time means to them.
To the churches and individuals who have made this all possible…. I can’t thank you enough.
Being in a place where you can’t repay the kindness as you’d wish, or not even really being able to reciprocate, is a humbling place to be. But it just reinforces the idea that when we see what we hope to see happen in France… it won’t be our victory (The Long family), but it’ll be OUR victory (the family of God).
God bless you this week as you discover, through the little details, how God loves you!