We have arrived in rainy Ethiopia after 30+ hours of travel. As morning dawns and we see the country for the first time in the light, the overwhelming feeling among the group is one of great anticipation and expectation. There’s something quite powerful about removing yourself from your comfort zone and stepping out into new places surrounded by new people and the possibility of new experiences. It places your senses on high alert and forces you to be more present in the current moment.
Our day-to-day lives seduce us into the comfort of familiar routines and life’s distractions, causing us to miss the miraculous moments in the world around us. When you travel, especially to places so drastically different from the one in which we live, it can be like stepping into another dimension, one in which at least for me, God is a bit easier to see, feel, and hear.
The weeks leading up to our departure were busy and emotional for me on a personal level. As a result, I stepped on to the plane both exhausted and anxious that I wouldn’t be able to leave the concerns of life behind and be fully present in all this trip has to offer. Yet as we lifted into the Montana sky, those cares fell away, replaced by the calming of God’s presence. This happens often to me when I travel, it’s why I love to go, for unfortunately sometimes it takes going to the other side of the world to quiet my heart and mind enough to be fully present in the world around me.
Throughout the day, we descended to the city of Minneapolis, the city of Amsterdam, and even into the country of Sudan for a brief refueling. Each time, our bird’s eye view from the plane highlighted the vast expanse of the cities below. Homes stretched from horizon to horizon, each filled with people, people known and deeply loved by our magnificent God. I was struck by the awesomeness of His power and the breadth of His reach, knowing the Bible speaks often of how God cares deeply for the concerns and fears of each member of His creation, paying such close attention He knows the number of hairs on each head…there were a lot of heads! I couldn’t wrap my head around the vastness of His love and power, couldn’t fully understand how He could know everyone intimately in the plane around me, in the homes below me, and even in the places outside the far reach of what I could see. I felt dwarfed by His omnipotence.
Turning from the window, briefly distracted by a small voice nearby, I bumped into God in a different way, within the eyes of a child nearby. She was patiently saying and waving goodbye to all the passengers around her as we prepared to debark. What caught my attention was her acceptance of everyone around her. Surrounded by a variety of people of all shapes, colors, ages, and nationalities, she embraced them all, making sure each one received their own wave. In that moment I glimpsed another side of my savior, the part of Him who comes to dwell among us, loving and accepting each of us regardless of history, creed, nationality or beliefs. The side that reminds me that I am treasured, that my relationship with Him is intimate and important, that my vast and powerful God is personally reachable and present all around me…if I pay attention.
Today is a brand new day, the start of two weeks of being fully present in the world and people around me, and of expecting to meet God in both big and small moments. A mere forty-eight hours into our journey, we have already witnessed God’s miraculous intervention in an eleventh hour passport delivery only He could have orchestrated, experienced His loving care as He brought us all safely to the other side of the world, had a front row seat to the vastness of His creation and to the intimate way He reaches out to each one of us through the voice of a child.
So today I rise with a tremendous feeling of expectation for what this time will bring each member of the group, the miracles we will surely witness, the lives we will touch, the ways our own lives will be transformed, and the moments we will interact personally with our God and savior.
Yes, it’s a brand new day and we are ready to seize all that it will bring.