Sometimes you get side-swiped. You know, totally knocked off your feet.
It happened to me last night and it took everything I had not to cry....and I am NOT a crier. It's kind of a long story but you won't get it without the background so bear with me.
The picture below was taken on May 25, 2008. That evening, 2 hours before this was taken, a devastating tornado ripped through the town of Parkersburg, Iowa (approx. 2 hours north of here). At the time I took this, I had no idea this had happened yet.
Meanwhile, I was driving home from some crazy personal events and as I was coming up the hill where the cross stood, I heard very clearly God say to me, "Stop. Look what I can do. Look at the beauty in My world all around you. In the midst of the chaos you feel right now, I can still create beauty." I pulled over on the side of the road, grabbed my camera, ran up a small hill and took this.
It was a reminder to me that even through all the craziness (both personal and happening to others around me), God was still in control. ALWAYS.
Moving ahead a few months, I was inspired to pull together this picture in small picture frames and donate them to my favorite pastor at church. Pastor Wayne is a retired pastor who has a hospital ministry visiting with the ill and their families. He is quite a presence and leads many people to the Lord as a result of this ministry. Pastor Wayne is the guy you call when you need prayer. Yeah....he is THAT guy. Ok....not THAT Guy, but you know what I mean. :0)
Anyway, over the course of the last 6 months or so I have given Pastor Wayne over 100 frames with this picture. He gives them to the sick and those who have accepted Jesus during his visits. Most Sundays when I see him he tells me of the people he met that week and he loves to tell me their reaction to the picture. Yeah. It's nice to hear about the smiles on their faces or how a grown man in his 80's just prayed to Jesus for the first time and is now sobbing over my picture. But....it's never been real to me because I understood the excitement to be that they were being loved by people who did not know them. My picture was just a physical reminder that God was there.
Until last night.
I went with Mark to visit his 90+ year old grandma in the hospital recovering from hip surgery. As we walked in, Mark's brother said Pastor Wayne had just been there and left a picture for their grandma. Mark turned around and there it was. I was shocked....even though I knew Pastor Wayne was going to give her one. It took everything I had not to drop to my knees and thank God for being a part of something bigger than me and far beyond anything I ever dreamed of.
So it has all finally come full circle. A very bad day for me personally turned into this. Some words from God, a picture, a pastor with a mission and the end result to reach as many non-believers as possible and love our neighbors the best we can. I know that God had me take that picture for a reason. I know that God has a purpose for it. And while it may not be anything spectacular, it is still something He is using to reach the world....and I indirectly get to be a part of it.
What a complete and total honor. I am humbled beyond measure and on my knees praising God for His purpose. I told God last night as I was falling asleep that if I never take another picture, if I never hold my camera in my hands again, I will forever be satisfied knowing that God's will was completed for me.....with one picture.