Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Journey of Faith (Ireland update)

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
~Mother Teresa

It was during a time of prayer that we decided as a team the Lord was calling us on a "faith journey."  A faith journey really just means that we decided to take three days and be lead by the Lord as to where we were to go and what we were to do in those days, completely relying on Him without our own planning or preparation.  We felt that the Lord wanted us to follow Saint Patrick's Trail and hit some of the significant points on this trail, and that the key to our guidance was to worship the Lord everywhere He took us.  What we were to do at these places other than worship and where we were to lay our head at night, we didn't know.  Needless to say we left having no idea what we were getting into and were so expectant of the Lord to provide... and as always He went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Day one began in a town called Armagh in Northern Ireland and we felt that we were to visit two different Cathedrals of Saint Patrick, one of them being Protestant and the other being Catholic.  At the Protestant Cathedral we felt we were to worship outside in their garden and this was really significant to our journey because our first worship was to be in a garden and the first fellowship/worship between man and God was in a garden.  With our spirits filled up by the planning of the Lord, we went on over to one of the most beautiful Cathedrals I have ever been in.

It was here at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh that we first began to notice the favor of the Lord.  At this beautiful Catholic Cathedral we were allowed as "Protestants" to worship in the sanctuary with an acoustic guitar.  I don't know how many of you understand the favor of this, but this just simply does not happen and yet God made a way for it.  I don't even know how to describe the emotion that I felt as we began to lift our voices to the Lord in the midst of such a breath-taking Cathedral, but it was one I will never forget.

As if this wasn't enough we continued on our faith journey through Newry and did some worship there before ending day one in Newcastle, or so we thought this was where we were going to stay.  When we arrived at Newcastle, Jaimie began to contact every bed and breakfast possible with no vacancy being the only response.  Eventually she contacted a place right outside of Newcastle that just so happened to be a Christian center but they weren't taking anyone either.  By the grace of God though, the owner of this center asked who we were.  After explaining our situation to him and telling him a bit about us he decided that they would house us, but he wasn't sure if they had rooms for us because of a local Bible college that was staying there for the week.  We decided this is where the Lord wanted us that night and even if we were to sleep on some floors, at least we had a roof over our head.  God is so much bigger than we understand, and when we pulled up to the center it was not just any old building... it was the Castlewellan Castle!

The owner began to tell us as we arrived that for some reason the Bible college had left one wing of the castle open and he began to explain that He knew it was the Lord having ordained our stay before the beginning of time.  Needless to say not only did we stay there that night, but we were invited and decided to stay there both nights of our journey and not only that... they allowed us to stay in the beautiful castle above for free!  Like I said, God's favor and provision had fallen into our laps on this faith journey and for good reason.  So much else happened here but it would take too long to go into detail about it, so if you want to know more please ask cause I would love to share.

Day two began and while it was super significant too, it would take forever to explain the whole journey so I am just going to continue picking the main points that stand out right now (again if you want to hear more I would love to share so please do ask).  On day three we were to end our journey at the end of Saint Patrick's trail which was in a place called Bangor Northern Ireland.  It was here that God's favor continued to pour out and it was here that the perfect completion to our three day faith journey came to fruition.

We showed up at the doorstep of Bangor Abbey, which is rich in missionary history, in the pouring rain and the doors were locked.  Knocking on the front door we found no response until the director of the abbey just so happened to walk out the side door as he was going home for the day.  He saw us in the rain and invited us in for a quick chat.  After we explained who we were and what we were doing he decided to give us a quick tour at the end of which we asked if it would be alright for us to worship in the abbey.  He agreed and told us that he had to leave for a bit but trusted us alone in the abbey to worship (which again never happens for a director of one of the oldest abbey's in Ireland to leave a group of strangers in there alone).  Not only this but after a conversation with some of the team, he decided that he would come back and perform a private communion ceremony with us using liturgy from Iona (which is the community that produced the book of Kells, highly significant to missional history)! 

Right there front and center of the above picture is where we were able to celebrate communion as a family and it was one of the most heartfelt Eucharists that I have ever been able to partake in.  Again it is so hard for me to put into words the emotions that were stirring inside of me at the taking of the bread and the wine, the significance of which I will never be able to describe with worldly language.  But there is no doubt in my mind that communion as a family on the third day of our faith journey, in one of the oldest missional communities in Ireland, was the perfect end.  What started in a garden, ended in a garden... and for us what started in a garden, ended in remembrance of what Jesus accomplished in that garden.  I will never forget what all the Lord blessed us with in those three days... and it still wasn't even fully over because our God is one of detail to the good desires on the hearts of His children.

One of the final blessings that the Lord allowed us to be a part of before our journey was over, was the opportunity to do something in this abbey that had been on my "bucket list" for ages.

If you take a look up at the back center of the abbey you can see over 200,000 pipes that are a part of an organ that is almost 1,000 years old.  For so long on my bucket list has been the desire to play a real organ in a Cathedral, and never in my life did I think it would be one as ancient and significant as this one... that's right, the favor of the Lord prevailed once again and I was able to play that very organ you see depicted in the picture above!

We ended our time and back at the base in Rostrevor we debriefed our journey by asking ourselves what the Lord had spoke to us at every place we worshiped.  While I won't write down the significant revelations that had been placed upon my heart during each session, I want you to know that one of the greatest things I did take away is this... The Lord loves His children dearly and truly cares about the details and desires of our hearts.  He truly desires for us to be cared for deeply and all He asks of us is to place our faith and obedience in Him by listening to His voice and then walking it out.  God is good all the time.

If you have any more specific questions about this three day faith journey, I would love to share more with you, but for now I will leave it at this.  Place your faith and trust in Him and enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Dude all I can say is that is amazing. I found huge encouragement to see how the Lord is providing for the team and that each day you are devoting it to the Lord. Was the organ awesome? I assume it was and will expect the details of the three days when you come to visit. We will continue to pray for you brother and we love you. Your brother in blood and the blood of Christ, Casey