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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wealthy Missionary

Those are two words that you do not find in the same sentence very often – wealthy and missionary! It depends on your definition, however. While most missionaries would never be considered “wealthy” by the measure of the size of their bank account, the number of land deeds in their safety deposit box, cars in their garage or diamonds encircling their wrists and neck, it does not mean they are completely destitute. Is there not more than one way to define wealth? The accounting of material possessions is one means of doing that, and missionaries typically come up fairly short in that perspective. However, what about the accounting of the wealth of friendships and family ties, lives invested in, and the rich experiences that result from having to trust God for the impossible? (which isn’t limited to just missionaries!)

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t to diminish the necessity of material goods. The financial generosity of many makes it possible for people like me to be able to go. Telling the Portuguese electric company “Thanks so much!” and giving them a hug will not pay the electric bill. It takes money…euros in my case…to make that happen! But, this is a beckoning to broaden your definition of wealth.

That wealth can be defined in more than one facet has been made so real to me over these last months in preparing for and working in Portugal. Being deluged with such love and support from family, friends and church overwhelms my heart and mind in a way that reflection upon it results in an awed humility. You have invested in me, and I can therefore invest in others! I pray God will enable me to be high-yielding investment in the lives of the other missionaries, school parents and their children.

This path to Portugal has not been an easy one and has required me to exercise more faith “muscles” than before. It has, however, brought rich reward in seeing God move in mighty ways. One obvious example, as has been mentioned before, is how He brought in all my support in less than three months! Another example was in my flight over. While I knew that I had layovers in Detroit and Frankfurt, I didn’t know what having a “split ticket” involved…now I know. In my case it meant that I would have to collect my luggage from the carousel and re-check it in Detroit. After heaving the suitcases onto a cart (Did I mention I will be in Portugal for 10 months?), I managed to finagle it over to the elevator to go three floors up, only to find out that Lufthansa had recently moved to the other building. The directions to get there were as follows, “See those double doors all the way down there? Go through those, through the hotel, outside and down the sidewalk. There’s a shuttle that will take you to the other building where Lufthansa is now.” Sigh.

One of the hotel employees helped me load my bags onto the shuttle that finally came. He couldn’t guarantee, though, that there would be a cart or anyone to help me transport my bags once I got there. Are you kidding me??? My stewing began…. Then the Lord patiently reminded me, “Meredith, you can sit and stew and be frustrated or you could ask Me for help.” Another sigh. “OK Lord, point taken. I am in a situation to which I don’t have a solution, and I am in need of Your help! There is no way possible for me to get all these bags to that counter by myself!!”

As I was getting off the shuttle scanning the area for any type of wheeled contraption, an airport employee who was also riding asked, “Do you need some help with your bags?” I smiled with great relief, “Yes! Please!!” He pulled two bags, and I grabbed the rest. He led the way (which involved another elevator) to the check-in and to the first counter without a line, which was First/Business class. While the woman behind the counter was not initially going to check me in since I was not first or business class, she glanced around and said she could do it quickly. When she saw that my bags were overweight, she bumped me to business class for the flight from Detroit to Frankfurt so that I wouldn’t have to pay for the overage! Wow! I’ve never flown business class and may never again, so I savored this sublime blessing that was for the longest part of my flight (8 hrs.). As the man who had helped me turned away, I checked to see if he had wings. He was certainly an answer to prayer that was sent straight from God! After all the frustrations experienced that morning in Detroit (and others in the Birmingham airport, too!), it was so sweet of the Lord to arrange this lovingkindness. He certainly didn’t have to!

Our lives are full of blessings around us. Some we can see if we will stop to take the time to observe them. Others come only through taking a God-guided leap of faith.

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