Of Journeys, Lakes and Vineyards
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
I have recently returned from the United States of America (USA). Whether the journey entails traveling through various geographical locations, a spiritual journey to discover God, an emotional journey of grasping realities and healing or a journey of hardships through medical, marital or moral issues, one thing remains certain: God is not far from any of these journeys. His Presence surrounds each one of us on our journey.
The Journeys In preparing for this one month-long journey to the USA, God prompted me to prepare myself. I embarked on a month-long pray and fast journey prior to my arrival in the USA. During the time of fasting and praying for the USA, I had the word "AMAZING". I knew within my spirit that God was promising me an AMAZING journey in the USA.
Now that I am back, I can witness to the fact that God is a Promise-Keeper and is ever Faithful. He gave me AMAZING days daily. Each day was a true gift of friendships with various people, learning experiences and the privilege of enjoying the creation of God.
The month in the USA allowed me to learn many matters close to God's heart for this nation. But I will just share two of my God-moments in this blog:
Journeying from the Ugliness of Daily News to the Abundant Beauty of the USA Prior to my travel, my mind and eyes were bombarded by many negative impressions of the USA. No thanks to the mainstream media! Yet in my heart, I was confident that God is still sovereign over the USA. I wanted to see, hear and sense God's heart during this month. Oh I serve a great God! I saw the beauty of God in the people, in the land. I could not understand how anyone can hate this gift of God. How could any citizen or migrant in this nation close their eyes to the Creator God? It is so obvious that He is present everywhere. Indeed the prince of the world has blinded many to the beauty and glory of God. Americans must reclaim and remember their beautiful country and bring this to the forefront so that the world may see the natural blessings of God. As an islander with hardly any kind of nature around, I valued the feast that God gave me. My eyes (when I am not dozing in the car) were just full with capturing the beauty of God's America. So apt to include the original prayer-song with the disturbances found only in a really old tape or video:
Author: Irving Berlin, 1918; revised 1938
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, land that I love Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with the light from above From the mountains To the prairies, To the ocean white with foam God bless America, My home sweet home.
Did you listen to the beauty of the voice, music and lyrics despite all the disturbances?? Similar to life, isn't it?
Journeying from the Lack of Friends to the Abundance of Friendships When many are struggling with the isolation due to the covid crisis, God put me in isolation before it even began. I had moved to Mexico and frankly did not have deep friendships. The only family who cared about me were my house-owners. It took me 1.5 years to finally locate a church where I would enjoy worshipping but alas! it was in another state. So, online worship and the quarterly trips to worship in-person began. But my journey to the USA yielded some new friends and I was blessed by each one of them. I feel like I have returned with more 'families' in different states. Every single day, God showed me how much he cared and loved me through my friends from Texas to Louisiana to Pennsylvania to North Carolina to Georgia. I savoured each moment of AMAZING hugs, kind words, prayers, encouragements, gifts and pure conversations. My heart was full.
In the last two weeks of my journey in the USA, God kept giving me the gifts of stays at houses on the lake, beside the lake or near the lake. Yes, I definitely noticed this abundance and turned my thoughts towards the Sea of Galilee. In fact, I had brought my T-shirt bought in Galilee on this trip! My T-shirt said, "I've sailed on the Sea of Galilee".
The Sea of Galilee is also known as the Sea or Lake of Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret or Kinneret. It is about 43 meters deep and not a huge lake. Still, life surrounded this fresh-water lake.
The Messiah would come from this area of Galilee (Isaiah 9:2). In the New Testament times, this area was an important commercial center. Fishing was a lucrative industry. Surrounded by little towns, this area figured greatly in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called some fishermen and a tax collector from this area to "follow me" (Mark 1: 16-20; 2:14). He walked on water (Mark 6: 45-53) and fed thousands (Matthew 15:29-39; Luke 9:10-17), taught by the shores (Mark 4:1-34), stood on a boat on the Sea to teach others(Matthew 13:2), gave the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and even delivered a man from the unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-28). All Galilee heard about the Jesus of Nazareth in his lifetime and many more miracles were carried out.
Casting the Net
What God reminded me personally was about the final miracle found in the Gospel of John 21:1-14 when the Resurrected Jesus returned and invited his disciples to cast their net for a good catch of fish. And when they did, the other miracle was that the net did not break from such a heavy load. What AMAZING miracles to experience after a night of not being able to catch anything! But the best is saved for the last - when they all breakfasted with the Lord Jesus.
It was another strong reminder from God that the 'casting of the net' needs to be done in order to 'catch the fish' and then go on to do as He had done - to make fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Listen, the harvest is white and we all need to be out there to reap!
Will you fish for Jesus?
During the last week, I had the pleasure of enjoying the beautiful Chateu Elan in Georgia and had lunch at the Wolf Mountain Vineyard in Dahlonega. They were stunning experiences. And a kind of double dose of what God wanted to impress upon my heart. Noah had a vineyard (Genesis 9:20); it was an investment that required hard work and brought wealth.
I was reminded about John 15:1-8. As I read this passage, I began to understand the deep intimacy that the Lord Jesus desired with his disciples. He truly does not want anyone of us to waste our lives on the temporary things but to focus our efforts to the purposes of an Eternal God. He desires for us to bear not some or little but MUCH fruit as it will bring glory to God. This intimacy with God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the key to the conformation to the image of Christ which in turn allows us to be transformed with the help of the Holy Spirit in order to cast the net, bring in the fish, bear the fruits. All for His glory alone.
While I enjoyed the beauty of the entire vineyard scene, the crisp air, the blue sky and grapes in bunches, I was aware of the hard work of a team that had the focus of producing the best wine. We can do nothing on our own steam. We need a good team that is selfless, like-minded and moves at the same time, not ahead of each other, to reap a good harvest.
How are you doing in the vineyard of the Lord Jesus? Are you seeing the harvest as HE sees?
It has been the most AMAZING AUGUST (2021) that God promised me. He never failed once. I returned to my place of stay across the seas with many thoughts and instructions. And now, I must go about my business of being patient, being alert, being diligent with the assignments entrusted to me by God and expecting great things from a God who absolutely loves me and you. It was indeed a journey to be remembered for many more years to come.
With abundant grace of God,