I broke down in tears. I knew that I did not deserve this amazing gift from God. While tears were streaming down my face, I opened up my Our Daily Bread devotional, and this is what it said.
He knows where the hurt is the deepest,
The tears of the night and the day,
And whispering softly, “I love you,”
He brushes the teardrops away. —Anon.
The God who washed away our sins will also wipe away our tears.
Here He was again, the Lord Of All Creation, comforting me. Even though He knows me inside and out, He still loves me. He still wants to bless me beyond my wildest dreams. I am humbled by His love. A love I do not deserve, but He lavishes it on me anyway.
Once my tears were dry, I realized that I needed to accept this gift graciously. I wanted to honor the Gift Giver. I was going to embrace this gift, not as one who deserved it, but as one humbled and honored to receive it.
God has revealed Himself to me in so many ways regarding this trip, more than I could begin to mention, but one way in particular stands out the most.
At the beginning of February, my mom and I went to a Shannon Ethridge conference. (If you ever get the opportunity to hear her speak, go. She is amazing. God is doing a mighty work through her.) On the way to the conference, I told my mom that I was finally ready to embrace this gift from God. I also told her that (selfishly) I was very much looking forward to a gondola ride through Venice. For some reason, of all the amazing things I would be doing and seeing on this journey, I was especially excited about the gondolas and Venice!
During her message, Shannon Ethridge shared about how God used "physical" signs to speak to her or to give her confirmation regarding something He was doing in her life. The signs could be mistletoe in a tree or letters painted on a road, but He often would point things out to her in the "physical" where He was trying to reach her in the "spiritual."
My mom and I had to sneak out of the conference a little early due to an itching situation she was experiencing with her arm. So while my mom went to the hotel kitchen to get some ice for her arm, I waited for her in the lobby. I found a table nearby to set my papers and purse on, so I could put on my coat and gloves. After setting my things down on the table, I looked up, and could not believe what I saw.
Only an hour earlier, I was in the car with my mom, telling her how much I was looking forward to that gondola ride, and now I'm staring at a painting of it. I looked around that hotel lobby at all of the other paintings. All of the other paintings were of flowers and old men, but the table I had stopped at was a gondola going through Venice.........It was extremely overwhelming, especially after hearing Shannon Ethridge share about God using "physical" signs to show her things in the "spiritual."
When my mom came back from the kitchen with her ice, I pointed at the painting.......She looked at it, and could not believe her eyes. God is truly amazing.
We left the hotel that night, but we had to return in the morning for the second part of the conference. I took my camera with me, and had my mom take my picture with the painting, or as I like to refer to it now, my painting. I couldn't wait to show (my)Shannon and the boys.
I wished so much that Shannon had been there with me at the moment that I first saw this painting. Shannon is my best friend. The hardest part of this trip for me will be seeing so many amazing things without him. When I go out to lunch with a girlfriend I always think, Shannon would love this meal. Or when I go to a movie without him, I think how much I wished he was seeing the movie with me.
Leaving on this trip, I would be missing our seventeenth wedding anniversary, not to mention our son Daniel's thirteenth birthday.
I prayed about this one evening........I told God that as excited as I am to go on this amazing adventure, it hurts so much to think of going without Shannon..........