Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Ebenezer

Five years ago, I woke up in my bed in Alaska, extremely grumpy. The time was drawing near to when I would leave home to go to college--the most enormous change of my life as of then. I kept thinking about my dearest friends and how much I would miss them. I pounded some blues on my piano, then roared into a jaunty tango. As I hit the last cord with a flare, 5 of my best friends burst into the room, yelling "surprise!" (And boy, was I surprised!) They had come to kidnap me for a whole day of fun and fellowship together.

My life changed that day. While the whole thing is very memorable and special to me, the most important thing is that there was a thunderstorm at the end of the day. It's the only thunderstorm that I ever remember happening in Alaska. Usually, if it's going to rain a lot, it just rains gradually for a week! But God gave me a thunderstorm and afterward, a full rainbow. And not just a rainbow, but a double rainbow. Remember what a rainbow is? It's a promise, and a sign in itself of God's faithfulness to his promises. That day, I had complete conviction that God was speaking to me and reminding me in a both gentle and powerful way that He is faithful to keep me no matter what I do or where I go.

Through my first year of college, I memorized the date only on a whim, remembering that it was my favorite day of the last year. But as time went on, I kept wondering what would be happening on July 27 the next year. My freshman year, I changed a lot, partly from college, but also from going on tour as a pianist with the Continental Singers. My life was likely to be much different than I was expecting... and I was beginning to stop expecting (or hoping) for something specific and simply be excited about the surprises God brings along, knowing that everything He gives is awesome and full of purpose and meaning. That day was one of the first days we were having a concert outside. In fact, we were in a campground  in the woods in Germany. But we didn't end up having a concert. The clouds rolled in, and a huge thunderstorm poured down all around us. Fortunately, we were able to get all the equipment into a gazebo area so it wouldn't be damaged. While we waited, listening to the rain, we sang praise songs together and talked--beautiful, relaxing fellowship in the woods....just like the year before! And when the clouds broke (I can still hardly believe it), there was a double rainbow stretching full across the sky! I was so overwhelmed by God's generosity and reassurances, that July 27th has become for me a day of remembering God's faithfulness (whether or not there's a rainbow.)

For example, a couple years ago, it seemed that nothing very special happened on July 27th. My mother and I went to Anchorage together and bought a new microwave. But you see, since the day of July 27 is set aside in my mind as being a day to celebrate God's faithfulness, what could I do but praise God that he gives us so much time and money to be able to afford such wonderful things as microwaves, which are clearly a blessing above and beyond what we need! And now, when I go to visit my parents, I see that new microwave and think of how good God is to us!

Today, I have a whole year of outrageous blessing to look back on and simply gawk at how ridiculously good God is to me. And I had an amazing start to my day around 4:30AM... beginning the day (rather unusually) by being so glad that God gave me as much sleep as he did! Later today I'm going to go pick blackberries... (Blackberries, by the way, will forever make me think of my beautiful and dear friend Andrea, who loves berries and has been generous enough to let me share in her delight whenever we're together. How faithful God is to give us wonderful Christian friends to encourage us through sharing things we love!) And not only do I get to have purple fingers and tongue, but I get to enjoy them with another lovely friend, who will be (come another July 27th) as a sister-in-law to me. How much fun we shall have in celebrating God's goodness to us in giving us godly husbands that love and care for us!

I could list so many things that God has been faithful to provide, but the biggest one that I can think of is how he has consistently provided spiritual encouragement in all different (and often unexpected) quarters. I suppose it's often unexpected because I am now living in Washington DC, and feeling rather out of my element, like a lobster in a pot of boiling water. (considering how hot it is here!) And God has brought dear friends from all corners of the continent to our apartment that say they're "just passing through." But just between you and me, I secretly think that they're really there just to visit me--to encourage me by how faithful God is to give me fellowship with good friends, one way or another. But that's just one of many examples of how God constantly surprises me with wonderful things that I delight in. And all these things help remind me that joy in the Lord is to be found anywhere I look for it...whether in little things like blackberries or big things like a spouse and an air conditioner.

Let me know how God has shown his faithfulness to you, either today, or sometime in the last year!