I love Peter's experience of walking on the roaring sea with Jesus. But the thing is, Peter's story is often misunderstood. Do you have a step you need to take?
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We are beginning a new series here on the Step Out & Thrive Ministries blog today. After my last few weeks of summer reflecting time, I wanted a creative way to break down some of my Ukraine highlights with you. Over the next few months, this will be the overlying theme but as you know, God will lead us down other paths occasionally. I am thankful for so many of you who joined with me on this journey through prayer, many financial gifts, clothes, supplies, and encouragement. If you find yourself reading these words, you are family here. Enjoy a few glimpses of what God did during this Love More Ukraine journey!
June 16, 2018 (Afternoon): Newark, New Jersey
We had successfully made our first flight from Orlando International to Newark, New Jersey. Our luggage was hopefully safe on the way. Our carry-ons were loaded with several changes of clothes and various entertainment options. Anticipation was at an all-time high for the mission that awaited us in Ukraine. The only problem was, it takes an entire 24 hours (and then a few more hours) to actually get to our Ukrainian destination!
I’m a mom of three young boys who don’t wait. They are learning patience, but as you know, it’s a process. I on the other hand – well, I am what my boys sometimes label a “kid in an adult body.” Sometimes, I get so excited about an activity, or caught up in the moment or simply too impatient and ready to just move forward. These layovers don’t exactly play nice with my patience. Not. At All.
Unless the excitement could start here.
Right here in the middle of the Newark airport.
It could because God can.
…and God did.
Not even one hour after we had landed in Newark, we met a couple traveling back home to Germany. One of our team members immediately struck up a conversation and the rest of us followed. As we sat there in the middle of the crowded airport lobby, God began to work in huge ways.
The couple shared that they knew about those of us who believe in the God of the Bible, but they just didn’t see evidence of God in their personal lives. They were happy together. They had a home, careers and living their dream. God just didn’t have a place in their lives nor did they really think He needed a place.
The best part here – they kept talking with us.
We were open, loving, caring and compassionate with one another. There were quite a few disagreements in the mix of the few hours of conversation, but many laughs and deep moments of thought as well.
During one of those moments of silence, the young man popped up and said, “You just can’t really know God is real.”
Now we had already covered many parts of creation, went through the history of the Bible and even how people at one time thought the world was flat until they discovered otherwise. But none of that seemed to answer the real question in his heart.
I have a fear of entering into conversations already in progress. In fact, I have a fear of calling anyone in authority or who may be remotely busy because my call may “interrupt” them from something more important. I will spend 30 minutes or so composing a text or an email rather than picking up the phone and making the call. Interruptions plus possible confrontations and I just do not get along at all.
So you can imagine my shock and complete horror when the words, “Have you ever asked God to show Himself to you?” came rolling from my lips. The Holy Spirit had impressed those words on my heart throughout the conversation, but I thought the delivery would come across a bit more gently and strategically.
But there my words sat. They just rested on the table that separated us. The young man froze and turned his head as if to focus on my facial response. Our eyes met as silence rushed over the group. His lip began to curl and I could tell those words hit something deep. I took a quick breath and asked him if I could share a bit of my journey.
He smiled and so did his girlfriend. I felt a smile come across my face as well. Thank You Jesus for getting all of us out of that awkward moment!
As the entire table leaned in, I asked God verbally to take my thoughts and words and make them His. With not as much confidence as I would have hoped, I began.
It wasn’t until my late teens that I learned that I had been asking the right question, but not waiting long enough for His response. God was moving and speaking, but I chose to miss what He was actively doing.
I had decided to hold onto my anger towards God. I let all of my hurt actually define who God really was to me, but God never gave up on chasing me to the ends of the earth to show me that there was indeed more.
God is more than just the creator of the moon. He is the author of life, giving purpose to every human being on earth. He has a plan and we are invited into His story.
I shared how this reality began to take root in my heart after a professor was bold enough to allow me to ask the hard questions. The questions which nobody could answer. The “why” question. “Why did God never finish me?”
I shared instead of answering, he guided me to the Bible and asked me to get quiet before the God I “thought” I knew. He challenged me to begin reading the book of John asking God to reveal Himself in a fresh, new way.
God did. And there we sat – a girl that once questioned why she was even here on this planet was on her way to Ukraine, sharing the gospel with complete strangers.
But our stories were so much alike. That’s how God moves.
Our team worked together and we shared the Gospel. I was leaving them with a challenge. I told them to get quiet before the God they “thought” they knew. I told them, “Tonight before your head hits the pillow, ask God to reveal Himself to you. Begin reading a Bible. Start with the book of John. Wait. Pay attention. See what the God of the Bible can do.”
The young man looked back at me as his eyes looked more sincere as he asked, “You mean if I ask God to show Himself to me, He really will?”
I remember thinking the same exact thing. In fact, honestly, I still question that very thought today. But here’s what I know to be true.
We have a loving Father God Who wants to connect with His kids. He isn’t waiting for us to get our act together, He just wants us, all of us. It starts by laying down what our feelings are saying and coming to God with our open hearts. He does answer. He will answer. His way. His time.
Even before I made the world, I loved you Bethany, and chose you in Christ to be holy and without fault in My eyes. I decided in advance to adopt you into My family by bringing you to Myself through Jesus Christ. This is what I wanted to do, and it gives Me great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4, 5 NLT)
I’ll never forget the parting smile I received from this couple! It was different. More open. More genuine. I’ve been praying for them often without even knowing if I’ll ever see them again.
You have a testimony, regardless of how big or small, you think it may be. Our God does not make mistakes. Don’t miss the opportunity to share the difference Christ has made in your life. Also, don’t forget the importance of getting quiet before God. Maybe it’s time for you to read through John again?
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts of the Apostles 20:24 NLT)
More stories from Ukraine next week!
Hello and welcome to Step Out And Thrive Ministries! My name is Bethany Boring and I am proud to be called a child of God before any other title or role. I am a mom to 3 amazing boys. I enjoy writing for this Step Out And Thrive community and walking with you as we venture through the ups and downs of life together. I am an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor, Certified Human Behavioral Consultant (DISC Personality) and an author. As always - dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!
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