In December, my friend Kim went on a three week vacation to Vietnam and Cambodia.
She'd post pics of her adventures on Facebook and often we'd long distance chat about her experiences while she was away and it occurred to me that I will probably never visit that corner of the world.
She's been there twice, and loves it. And she bubbles with appreciation for its beauty every time we've talked about it, and for about ten seconds I was sad that I'd never see it in person. So I chatted with God about it; "God? Will heaven have a Vietnam and Cambodia? I hope so. Because it's unlikely I'll be seeing them in my lifetime on earth and I'm a little sad about that. There is so much beauty on this earth, and I'm not going to see hardly any of it. So I'm really hoping I will have eternity to explore all the beautiful places you've created. I have a feeling heaven's gonna be wild with colours and climates and places and things. So I'll just leave my longings to see it all in your hands. I can wait til heaven. I don't want to get all worked up about not seeing it on earth."
So that was that. I moved on.
In January, as is usual with me, I bought a new calendar and started plotting things. Like birthdays and long weekends and wedding dates and such. I have three weeks of vacation time in 2016 and no plans. Not one.
And that was weird for me.
I always have plans.
Or at least a wish list.
But during that first week of January I had nothing.
"God? Any ideas for me? Will there be any holidays for me in 2016? Or will I be needing all my vacation days for The Wedding? Can I afford to keep up this habit of travelling a couple times a year? I don't even know where to start. So. I'll just leave it with you."
(Haha. I am so pro-active when it comes to my life. "I dunno, God. You decide." ALL. THE. TIME.)
And then on January 18 I was invited to join a friend (and her husband and two other unknown-to-me couples) for a week in Mexico (to a city I'd never been to before that was not a resort town) in February. I didn't jump all over it. Because being the only single with 3 other couple, two of whom were complete strangers and no doubt utter extroverts and extremely fit and probably ten years younger with perfect teeth, is something I had to think about.
"God? Really? This is outside my comfort zone by about 10 miles. Is this Your idea? Am I to stretch abit? Meet (more) new people? See another spot on your beautiful earth? Wellllll, Ok. If You think so."
So I moved forward with making plans to be away during the third week of February. I adjusted the deadlines on a few projects at work, formally requested the time off (it was approved) (a sign from God surely that this was to be?) and looked into flights.
A few days later, still operating on the assumption that I had a green light, while booking my flight, I sent a quick text, "I've got a few minutes to finish this ticket purchase. Just confirming I'm still welcome. You haven't given my room to anyone have you? Haha." My phone rang immediately after that, and well, yes, they had given my room to some other friends, so, sorry, it wasn't going to work for me to join them on this vacation,
He hath spoken.
And that door was closed.
I was OK with that.
Sad for about 10 minutes, but I recovered.
If you ask God to open and close doors in your life, according to His will, then you can't really complain when He opens and closes doors in your life. According to His will.
But now that I had the third week of February booked off work, I wondered if maybe God had something else in mind. My mom has been asking me to help her get a passport as she was planning on traveling... so I looked into Palm Springs. Found some great condos, and come very affordable non-stop flights from Vancouver and proposed that her and I go away.
She said no, it wouldn't work for her.
So that was that.
He hath spoken again.
I was going to be home during the third week of February.
I cancelled my time off at work and hunkered down, wondering why it was so important that I be home. All during the week I was hyper-aware that firstly, I could've been away, in a sunny location, reading books, sleeping in late, admiring palm trees and secondly, wondering if I had a divine appointment to meet with someone from Feb 14 - Feb 20 ...
I was out every night that week with different people, chatting, drinking tea (or pretending to. I really don't care for any hot beverages. So I order a cup of tea for social reasons), walking, taking pics, watching movies.... and I was working every day. Then Saturday arrived, and I was to go to a baby shower.
I could tell, from the invite posted on Facebook that there would be about 40 women there; 35 of whom I did not know. This was so exactly my least favorite type of event to attend. I talked to God all morning about Him providing me with a divine excuse not to go. Something. Anything. One thing. But my schedule stayed clear and my body remained healthy.
At 1:30 I started driving, negotiating with God every mile I got closer. I'd stay for an hour. I'd brought my camera, so I'd capture a few lovely moments, then leave. I would say hi to the 5 people I knew, ask them how they were doing, then go...
At 2 pm-ish, I walked through the front door and immediately to my left 40 happy women were sitting in chairs, talking and laughing and being friendly and normal and womanly and babyshowerish and I promised God again I'd stay an hour. I may have whined and asked why He couldn't have arranged for me to be sitting next to a swimming pool instead?
The grandmother-to-be/host of the shower saw me and said, "Jane! You brought your camera! I'm so glad..." and she may have mentioned something to someone about me capturing moments at things or something... which prompted Sue to look up and say something like, "Hey, Jane - do you want to come to Vietnam and Cambodia with me in June? I'd love to have you join me so that I can have some good photos of my favorite place..."
And I stood there. In the entrance of that beautiful home, filled with feminine voices with Sue looking at me, and I heard God say, "SURPRISE! Hahaha! You thought this was about a baby shower! Haha - nope ....Did you mention a few months ago something about Vietman and Cambodia? I heard you."
So with Sue, and a few others staring at me for a response, I am having a quick conversation with the Almighty.
"REALLY? Hahaha. No, seriously? What? What the heck? Yes, I'd love to go. But, honest. HONEST, those other things I pray about, everyday, all the livelong day, those things? Are way more important to me. WAY MORE. I will gladly swap the Vietman trip for Your divine meddling in some lives that desperately need You. Please, if You only have so much energy to do Big Things, don't worry about this one. There is cancer to be cured, addicts who need help, folks who need jobs, relationships that need healing, nations that need wise leaders, plus I have a fat stomach..."
Sue and I talked later, and she said she was as surprised to say "Hey, do you want to come with me" as I was hearing it. She hadn't planned on inviting me, or even talking about it. But the words just came out of her mouth when she saw me.
I know, right.
God was showing off.
He can do anything. And He was letting me know it.
If He can find a lost diamond ring in Vancouver and arrange for it to be returned to me... and if He can arrange for me to get an invite to two random countries I mention in passing - I can be assured He is all over the prayers I cry regarding the people I love. He loves them too. He loves them more than diamonds and more than travel adventures. He loves them more than I do. People are his passion.
He has gone ahead, likely even before I asked, and is arranging/manipulating/manoeuvring/putting things in place to have maximum, life changing impact at exactly the right time. For His purposes.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Hahaha. While nothing is set in stone, and plans may fall apart, at this point, it looks like I'm going on an adventure in June.
2. God stories. We need to share them. All the time. Because Aslan is on the move.
3. Baby showers.