(re-posted from September 2012)
This morning Ellie was eating her breakfast and the sun was shining through the window, hitting something in just the right way so that there was a perfect little rainbow reflected right in her bowl of cornflakes!
And that reminded me of something…
In June, Ellie and I had the AMAZING opportunity to attend ‘Breathe.’ A 10 day missionary retreat in the Swiss Alps. TEN DAYS IN THE SWISS ALPS. AMAZING.
‘Breathe’ was attended by about 100 missionaries (including children) from around the world — mostly Africa, Asia and the Middle East. I arrived at Breathe feeling pretty tired and ready for some input into my life. I’ve been at this (missions) for a while (16 yrs!) and it just seemed like a good time for something big. Many missionaries arrived from places much less safe, and much more primitive and/or isolated than where we’re at here in Swaziland. Whatever the circumstances, everyone came just needing a break and needing to be filled.
At one of our first meetings the guy speaking gave the perfect illustration (which I can’t seem to recount concisely here J) and ended with the question, “What have you lost or given up that has left you feeling depleted?”
Here are just a few of the answers offered up from the group:
physical safety and security
some personal freedoms/’rights’
personal identity or aspects/strengths of personality (that don’t translate to another culture)
friendships (many people come and go)
Throughout the ten days you could see God filling up areas of depletion, as people were being encouraged, renewed and refreshed. We were having time to come up for a breath (a wonderful breath of fresh clean air in the Alps!!), and God was ‘breathing’ new life into all of us.
Something I will always remember from our week was one of the first evenings when we were all just hanging out outside on the big veranda, surrounded by the Alps. Someone shouted, “LOOK!” and we all looked up to see the most brilliant double rainbow, clear from end to end, stretching across the mountains right in front of us. Then we all shouted, and snapped a million pictures — because for a bunch of people that were in need of some deep refreshment, that rainbow just seemed like a very obvious sign that God was going to do it. Ellie immediately started singing a worship song she knows: “The rainbow’s in the sky to show God’s promises are true…” and that truth just cycled through my head all week. GOD’S PROMISES ARE TRUE. What an awesome reminder. (This morning we sang the same song, but replaced ‘the sky’ with ‘your cornflakes.’)
I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to attend ‘Breathe.’ There were WONDERFUL children’s programs EVERY DAY from 10am-5pm. There was an amazing staff on hand, including medical, educational, and counseling professionals. There was a team of people from a local Swiss Christian Massage school (?!) on hand to give massages. There was GREAT worship, GREAT teaching and discussion, and LOTS OF FREE time to just spend time with the Lord, read, explore, hang out, eat Swiss chocolate, nap, and did I mention that Ellie was wonderfully taken care of all day every day?!
Speaking of ‘wonderfully taken care of’… that’s really just how I’ve felt lately. In so many big and small ways God has shown his care and provision for us. I’ve been looking at Psalm 121 this week. It’s a Psalm the Israelites sang when they were making the trek to Jerusalem to worship. It starts like this: “I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” In other words, the same God that made those huge rainbow wrapped mountains we were surrounded by in Switzerland…that same God is the one who is my source of help and strength and knows my every need. He sustains me and He fills me up. All of His promises are true and I can depend on Him.