Monday, April 27, 2015

how meeting the Pope changed my life

(Photo credit: Will Howland)

Take a seat my dear reader and let me tell you a story...
Once upon a time in a land far far away...

As most know I spent from mid-December of 2014 until the beginning of March 2015 in the Middle East. I was just one small member of a group of 11 Jesus lovers who have a passion to see Him praised. (Another way you could put it is that our desire is to "know God and make Him known", some of you will get that...) Many days while we were overseas were spent prayer walking. We would pray over high places, well known places, the neighborhood, for dreams, for nationals, and everything in-between. One day our group went downtown and had divided up in such a way that we were to cover most of the area. Each small group of about 3-4 would go to a different section and then meet up all together. It was a beautiful thought and plan... until Will (one of our leaders), Billy (a dude from the UK), and little ole me were put in a group together...

So we split off as planned and before going anywhere, like good Christians, we decided to pray and ask God to guide and direct us during this time and provide "open doors" (that's important) for us. No sooner had the amens been spoken than what seemed like a school marching band comes around the corner. Loud music. A crowd. And the ADD senses begin to tingle. Naturally all plans that had been so excellently planned flew out the window. We followed the crowd, having no idea what was happening, right into a church. We walked confidently past the people standing at the first door and walked into the courtyard. In the middle of the area was a flight of stairs leading into the actual church. People lined the stairs and procession goes on into the church. We attempted to follow suit and were stopped by the man at the bottom saying that we could no longer proceed. So naturally we went around the stairs... and turn a corner... and there is an elevator, with its doors, literally, I kid you not, OPEN. open doors. This was a mind blowing moment. Never had such a seemingly cliché prayer had such realistic application.

To attempt to keep the story shorter... The elevator led straight to the top of the stairs. We waltzed right on in. Both Will and Billy had cameras and next thing we knew we were right at the front with all the photographers. A kind man saw how blatantly confused we were and explained that the Ethiopian Pope of the Coptic church was there with the Ethiopian Ambassador. One thing led to another and we were not only at the front but face-to-face with the Pope himself. We each got blessed by him and maybe I did it wrong, but yes, I kissed his hand... oops. Interviewed by some local TV station after that and the whole time ended with saying to a camera that we were so satisfied with the Peace that comes from God and had assurance that He has the best for us so fear has no place, even in the Middle East.

So how did meeting the Pope change my life?
It wasn't because he "blessed" me.
It wasn't because of the TV people.
But open doors.
God has showed me numerous times how faithful He is. And I have questioned Him at least just as many times.
"If I _____ God will You really be there with me?"
"God is it really worth it to step out and do what You call me to because I am afraid?"
"God what is Your plan because I don't know where to go from here?!"
But He always provides. The Way. The funds. The "open door".
He always listens to my prayers no matter how angry, confused, or broken I am.
And He is always there. I have a good Father.

"My God is only as big as I let Him be and I am not gonna limit Him with my disbelief.
My God has always, always been there for me and I am not gonna limit Him with uncertainty.
I don't have much! But it might amount to a mustard seed."
•Levi the Poet