Checked baggage

by | Oct 3, 2011

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My back is aching and I am tired partly because I have been dragging baggage around France for the last 10 days. However, I am not complaining because the weight of my bags can in no way detract from the ease and lightness I find in my soul. As I dragged my bags from city to city in France I shed a burden that I have been carrying for the last 20 years! No baggage is heavier than unrealized expectations and unanswered questions. When I was 20 years old I was studying French at university after having spent a gap year in France. One day whilst I was taking a shower I felt God tell me that one day I would preach the gospel in France. The thought thrilled me at the time as I love France, the people, the food, the culture, the language and I had high expectations that I would soon return to the country that had changed the course of my studies from the sciences to the arts. I even told Debbie when we met and fell in love that she needed to know up front that there was a call on my life to preach the gospel in France. However, things worked out very differently to my youthful plans. Years passed, 22 of them. I had begun to wonder if I would ever preach the gospel in France and even if I could preach the gospel in French. I often asked myself even if I had anything to bring to France. There were times where the dreams and questions became so heavy that I would just shed the load like checked baggage at the airport and and not think about them traveling light, but they would turn up periodically in my journey and circle the dream baggage reclaim to taunt me. I tried a few times to just leave them unclaimed but somehow they would just find their way home to my heart having miraculously picked up weight with every passing year. Each time I met a French person or would hear French spoken or sung they would catch my eye from their dusty corner and all the old questions would come back. Did I hear right? Do I have a part to play in the gospel story of the nation of France? Is my French good enough that I could preach in French.

Last Friday that weight finally began to slip from my shoulders. As I stood to preach my first sermon in French on French soil I could not help myself as tears rolled down my cheeks in gratitude to our wonderful Father God who made sure that after this long journey that my bags finally arrived at their intended destination. Not only that but as we travelled around France enjoying the friends, food and wine ( red, white and heavenly) of all the regions I could see that I had picked up in South Africa what I needed to actually bring something that would bless this nation. Everywhere we went God faithfully met us and poured out his loving presence in joy, laughter, healing, signs and wonders. He opened amazing doors of favor as new friends and old opened their hearts and homes to us treating us to French hospitality which never failed to touch our hearts and humble us. We met men and women of God who have labored faithfully in this nation for years and years and we worshipped together and drew encouragement from each other.

Now I am flying South to Barcelona, Spain to catch a ship for a 8 day Religious Detox cruise ( I know my dedication to my work is awesome isn’t it? 😉 ) and I am leaving France convinced that what I saw in the last 10 days in the French churches is the beginning of a great European revival. France is hungry and thirsty for more of the presence of God, for an authentic encounter with God’s loving power. Three centuries of official secularism have left the people dry as tinder just waiting for one small match of Holy Ghost revival fire to rekindle the flames of revival and reformation that once burnt across that great nation. We lit some of those fires, now our prayer is that God will cause the breath of heaven to blow on them and that a conflagration of love will sweep across the country.

So here I am back where I started. Those heavy bags are finally gone. Wait, that’s weird I see another small bag coming through the flaps, it has my name on it. As I turn it over I see written on it a new question ” When will I be coming back?”. With a tears running down my face I am sitting here flying over Spain and I don’t hesitate to claim the bag, after all what is life without a dream?

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