"For nothing will be impossible for God." -Lk 1:37
This verse shared by the angel Gabriel to Mary, struck me in a way like it has never before this season of Advent. As I reflected upon these words of Gabriel and the significance of them for Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, I was reminded of the many stories I heard of God’s love during this year as I worked on Project Emmaus. After talking to over 25 individuals and hearing these stories of God’s love in their lives, this verse was even more magnified. The stories confirmed in me the angel Gabriel’s words, “For nothing will be impossible for God.” While there have been many blessings I’ve experienced through Project Emmaus, I wanted to share a couple of personal experiences for which I’m very grateful.
This summer I was struggling a bit. We were in the midst of the pandemic and I felt like there were so many unknowns and decisions that weighed on me. What activities could we do safely, what will the kids’ and Paul’s school schedule look like, should we choose remote learning for our children, etc., etc.
One of the big decisions was if we should go on our annual summer vacation with my extended family in August. The kids had been asking us this question on a daily basis since May!
I prayed for direction. I knew I was struggling with trust. Several stories I had done up to that point had a theme of trust and they inspired me to go deeper in my prayer life. “Okay, God, I know I haven’t been very good at this but help me to trust in you. If it is not safe to go, please clearly let me know.” I didn’t hear anything.
While we were packing our bags, I kept praying that God would help me to trust in Him, take away my fears and enjoy vacation.
Vacation was lovely! Things went so well and it really was what we all needed! On the second night, I was awake and my mind started doing its thing at 2am. Grrrr! Fear started to rob me of my peace. After a fitful sleep, I opened the Bible and read the daily verse. It was the Gospel story about how Peter and the apostles were in their fishing boat and they saw Jesus walking to them on the water. Jesus called for Peter to come. Peter got out of the boat and walked to Jesus but the instant he took his eyes off of Jesus, he became afraid and started to sink. I read that familiar Gospel story with new eyes that morning. I realized how during the night that was exactly what happened. I was fine until I took my eyes off of Jesus. That Gospel story stayed with me throughout the week and I truly felt the Holy Spirit was with me during our week.
After we got home, I had the privilege to talk with Francine and she proceeded to share with me her story. The theme of it was trusting God – go figure! In fact, she even mentioned how the Gospel story where Peter walks on water had been meaningful in her life and helped her remember to obey and trust in God. I smiled when she shared this. “Thank you, God, for the reminder.” I felt this theme of trust was definitely something that God wanted me to share with others through Francine’s story.
Around this same time, I had the honor to talk with Rich and his wife and hear his story and experience with COVID-19. He talked about the lessons he learned through the experience. Again, a big theme of Rich’s story was about trust. This quote from Rich really struck me:
“It’s all about directing our whole life to God. It sounds easy but we all know how challenging it is because we want control. It’s like doing the back float. We can’t float until we put our head back and relax. When we relax and trust God, we will experience a level of peace, joy and love that is beyond all understanding!”
Rich then shared something that made me feel like he was looking into my heart. He was talking about Project Emmaus. He gave me this advice, “If you feel the Lord calling you to this, trust that calling, keep moving forward and don’t worry about the outcomes. We have no idea how God will use this. It may look like it isn’t fruitful but we don’t know how God is using it.”
At the time I talked with Rich, I was in the midst of trying to oversee our kids’ remote learning. I was feeling a little overwhelmed and was struggling to find time to keep the blog going. I questioned if it was worth it and if it was making an impact. When he said these words to me, he didn’t know my life circumstances or how I was feeling. I felt God was speaking right to my heart.
Interestingly, Rich called me a several weeks later. He called to tell me that his story on Project Emmaus was shared with his sister who was living in a care facility. His sister struggled with her mental health and the isolation and loneliness of living in a care facility during the pandemic was too much for her. She expressed that she had a plan to end her life. When Rich’s story was shared with her, what struck her the most was Rich’s quote about hope:
“Hope is not the point you feel things are better or going to be okay. Hope is the moment you realize Christ has never left you. He’s with you and He will never leave you and things are already okay.”
She said it touched her heart and she felt God’s love for her. It helped to draw her out of her deep despair. It hit her so profoundly, she posted the quote on a white board at her care facility in hopes it could help others. Many people commented to her how meaningful it was to them.
Rich remembered his words to me and wanted to call to share this gift. When we got off the phone, Rich’s previous words echoed in my ears: “We have no idea how God will use this.” God is so good!
While I may feel weary from this year, my heart is light. I received such a tremendous gift this year of hearing so many stories of God’s faithfulness. When I started the blog, I never realized how much these stories would buoy me in my faith when I needed the encouragement. Seeing God in all the details, hearing about the blessings that flowed from tragedies, and witnessing faithfulness and trust during trying and joyful times. It truly brought this verse, “For nothing will be impossible for God,” to life for me. I pray it has done the same for you.