Monday, February 7, 2011

Does God Care About Lost Suitcases?

I had a wonderful week at Midwinter (the Evangelical Covenant Pastors Conference).

I experienced uplifting worship, impactful speakers and seminars, and most of all, meaningful conversation with old and new friends. Everyone I met wanted to hear more about Missio Lux, huddle and our missios. (Not to mention getting to spend some valuable time with our daughter Molly who goes to university in Chicago.)

I even got to ride home on the plane with two others from Seattle, who were seated right next to me and in front of me!

It had been such a good trip that I was unprepared for the reality that my suitcase was nowhere to be found when I went to retrieve it. I spoke to the airport employee who assured me that it would be on the next flight and they would bring it to our home.

One flight came, nothing. Two more came in: no word. After 2 1/2 days, I realized that it may not come at all. The second day I was so exhausted that I could only utter "please God, bring my suitcase back to me," as a prayer. But, I knew that God wanted me to exercise my spiritual authority and participate with him for the return of my suitcase.

The second kairos moment that I was experiencing during my suitcase absence was a reality of how MUCH I CARED ABOUT MY STUFF! I've always thought that I wasn't too into material things, but as I ticked off all the things that were in my suitcase and my despair over losing them, I realized that I cared a lot more than I wanted to admit.

So, Sunday morning I confessed my materialism and asked the Lord to help me to let go of the need for the stuff....but I also confessed my delay in exercising kingly authority (Eph 2:6) for the return of the missing in action suitcase.

I sensed the Lord asking me when I wanted to have it returned: I suggested Tuesday as that would be 5 days and then they switch to a different search and retrieval system.

Then, I sensed him asking me if I would wait until then to replace things. (This was challenging as Monday is my day off). I said yes, I would wait. This I knew was building my faith with a tangible action (or lack of action in this case.)

After that exchange with the Lord , I remembered how our daughter Bonnie had lost her backpack on the way to Mozembigue and it was returned weeks later completely intact. One of my friends had prayed for a righteous African to care for it until it was returned to her. So that reminder and a picture in my mind of a field of lost suitcases led me to pray that my suitcase would be identified out of the confusion of many missing bags, and that an employee would be led to it for finding!

After I finished my prayer by thanking God for hearing my prayers and for inviting me to partner with him, I began to read my Bible. Not 10 minutes later, the phone rang and wouldn't you know, it was American Airlines: they had found my bag!

I knew that God used this suitcase experience to not just show me that I was more tied to material goods than I care to admit, but also to remind me that we can partner with him for everything: even things that may seem insignificant to God.

The next time that you have a frustration or a delay or a loss, consider going beyond a "please God," prayer and actually ask him how he wants you to pray...wait to hear what he suggests and then exercise his invitation to partner with him for the answer. Then, let me know what happens!

John 14:13-14: "You can ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it becasue the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it."

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