Proverbs 16:9 (HCSB) “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”
As I ponder that above verse, I chuckle to myself how true these words ring. My family and I have just returned from our vacation in Africa. Yes, it was a dream come true for me and my family. I had planned this trip for almost a year, with the constant checking of various websites for the cheapest flights where we could or would connect for a 24 hour layover, and what hotels to stay along the way. I made sure we had all of our visas, vaccinations, and medicines. I studied the different types of safaris and prior to our trip, my television viewing was consumed with all the wild animals’ shows, including River Monsters; therefore, in my mind, I was ready for our adventure.
Nevertheless, what I thought was a trip for my family and I to enjoy, turned out to be so much more. We arrived at our destination in the middle of the night, greeted by smiling faces of the family we were to stay with part of the time while in Africa. Yes, this precious family had traveled several hours and had arranged for us to sleep out the remainder of the night in a hostel. Their kindness was much appreciated for us weary travelers.
When we woke up from our short night of sleep, we were able to get around quickly, which was a miracle for my family. Before leaving town, we had a nice relaxing lunch in a local restaurant. At lunch, we all were reacquainted, for it had been months since we had seen this sweet family. I could tell that the mother of the family was beaming, for her face radiated with gladness. On the drive back to their home town, we were solicited by what my friends wittingly call “Walking Walmart.” As one comes to a stop, people come to your window selling all kinds of items from cashews to windshield wipers. It is extremely entertaining.
As we continued our journey to their home, her 4-wheeled vehicle bounced around these rough African roads trying to dodge the abundance of potholes. The ride was more like an off-road experience. However, through the vibration of her voice, I listened to her pour her heart out. She has lived in Africa for two years. She loves her life in this foreign land and has immersed her life in a culture so vastly different than anything she has known before; yet, she has adjusted very well. But as with life, this family has experienced difficulties.
A few months ago her husband was in an accident and broke his leg. This accident sat them back not only physically, but emotionally. Under the pressure of the stress, she has become weary, and in weariness, things appear different than they really are. As I listened to her, I could tell that she was in need of some genuine Christian fellowship. You know, the kind that encourages one in the Lord. The kind of fellowship that only Christians understand, for we share a kindred spirit. Of course, she has many friends and support in her life. But sometimes, you just need someone to be there physically.
When we arrived at her house, it was obvious by her smiles that she was delighted to share her home with our family. I could tell that our presence was like a wind of fresh sea breeze flowing gently her way, like an oasis in a desert. The next day we attended church and worshipped together. It was such a delight to worship the Lord not only with the Africans but with this family as well.
That night we had a great dinner and played games. We had a wonderful time laughing as we just enjoyed each other. This was a night where nothing else mattered except the joy of being together. A sweet fellowship that is priceless, and yet, so rare in our world of social media.
It began to dawn on me that this vacation wasn’t just for my family to enjoy the sights and sounds of a foreign land. Oh no, God is so much bigger than that. I am so glad that our Father had a greater purpose for our trip. What we thought was going to be just another vacation for the Sauer family, turned into so much more. It was a wonderful time to love and pour into the lives of this sweet family and to get a glimpse of the work they are doing among the African people. It was a time to encourage those who were in a desert.
I am so thankful that God knew a year ago that our friends would need fellowship for such a time as this. He truly goes before us and plans our steps. What amazes me the most is that He chose us to be the encouragement this family needed. We thanked this sweet family for showing us Africa, but they kept thanking us for coming and speaking into them. It is wonderful to be a vessel for the Lord without knowing you are. He is absolutely remarkable.
I love that He gave us a vacation with a purpose. He is so good!