OH, THE IRONY!
After all the drama- 4 countries, 9 flights and multiple methods of transport later- I CAME HOME RESTED!
Yeah, I know, it doesn’t logically make sense. Especially given the fact that I wasn’t averaging a full night’s sleep and in Latin cultures was eating dinner as late as 10pm.
After years of training, I thought that I had the whole “rest thing” figured out. I knew that rest wasn’t cookie cutter. Oh no.
“Rest is doing what you love with God. You can run a marathon or be in the chaos of a construction zone and be at rest at the same time!”
My famous two-liner. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you have heard it. I’ll write about it in a future blog if you haven’t- you can thank me later. 😉
A year and a half after my previous trip to Europe I was still battling fatigue. This time around I was determined to do anything and everything I could to safeguard against exhaustion. To do so, I decided to refer back to what I knew as a more traditional methodology of rest. By that I mean physical rest, emotional rest, mental rest, and spiritual rest- protecting my body, my heart and my noggin. I packed a week in advance, spent a lot of time with God, ate healthy, kept my plans at a minimum, and even booked an Airbnb for my brother and I to stay at just south of Barcelona with the sole intention of resting after our red-eye.
I was fired up and ready to take weariness by the collar and drop kick it out of the park. That was my plan anyway.
As you know, it didn’t happen that way. Every point of preparation was exhausted. My body was drained, my heart was vulnerable and waring against disappointment, and my noggin was foggy. I wasn’t frustrated that my plans had gone awry, but more so that my finances had taken a hit and that exhaustion was setting in. The exact areas that I desired to be generous.
As contrary to my original plan as possible I arrived to Autumn’s on an ultra-low tank. I was leaving in need, versus filled up ready to give to those in need. Honestly, I wasn’t very excited about it and initially border-line angry. I just felt gypped.
Once in Barcelona, I was actually surprised by the amount of energy I had. My brother and I dropped our bags off at the hostel and proceeded to explore the city arriving back at midnight. While I did get a little sleep on the plane, it was below average for sure. An adrenaline rush? Excitement? Maybe, but the fact that my energy level remained consistent throughout my trip on minimal sleep and in constant transition- there was no natural explanation. A strength that I couldn’t take credit for was operating in my weakness.
“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” – God. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God loves to empower us in feeble moments. He loves to show off His might in situations where we’re absolutely desperate. He loves to breathe LIFE into dry bones, provide a way out when we feel cornered and to turn our messes into miracles.
The morning we left to drive to LAX, I stopped by to pick up an envelope that someone had left for me on a table outside their house. Inside was $200. A couple that I’ve known for quite a while told me that they wanted to support me and God’s plan for my life- Europe being a part of it. Unbeknownst to me, the next morning I would need $205 to rush-order my new passport.
While I was amazed at God’s faithfulness in the moment, I was a little concerned because the money in the envelope was supposed to go towards “spending money”. As I was driving to Autumn’s in rush hour traffic, I cried out to God, having reached what I considered in that moment as the “end of myself”.
“God, I need you to provide. You know my needs. I’m trusting you to be my provider!”
The word RE-SUPPLY came to the forefront of my mind.
It’s a term used by backpackers that are doing extensive thru-hikes from one destination to the next, at times hiking 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Because they’re on the trail for weeks at a time it’s impossible to pack in food for the entire journey. Instead, backpackers strategically mail food to RE-SUPPLY stations where they can easily replenish their empty bear cans (what you carry your food in).
“I’m going to RE-SUPPLY Lauren. I promise.”
Shortly after calling one of my friends desperate for prayer, she called me back.
“Lauren, my husband had no idea I was just on the phone with you, but right after we said goodbye, he came downstairs and told me, ‘I feel like I’m supposed to give Lauren whatever is in my Apple wallet. I don’t know how much I have- but I want to give it to her.’ So, I said, ‘I’ll do the same!’ Lauren, you’ll never believe it but combined it came out to right around $200!”
Only moments later, God re-supplied almost to the dollar the money that had been lost. Not only that, He also re-supplied my energy tank.
It’s funny, often we exalt giving over receiving. In all fairness, the bible does say it’s “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving sometimes just feels better than receiving. Why? Receiving requires humility. After having been humbled numerous times in the past, I was looking forward to being on the giving side of the coin. But no- God wanted to once again make me aware that I have nothing to give apart from what I have first received. He wanted to do a miracle similar to that of the widow in 2 Kings who was financially in need. As she trusted Elisha and retrieved empty jars from friends and neighbors, she began to pour from the little oil that she had only to watch as God multiplied it right before her eyes.
As we give out of what we have, God is able to re-supply and pour into us as we pour out.
In my case, His grace proved beyond sufficient for me. I had the strength to encourage those I encountered along my journey and at times to bless them financially. As I gave from the little that I started off with, miraculously, my tank remained full and I arrived home refreshed.