Saturday, February 15, 2014

Faith Revealed

Photo by Tuxyso 2013

As my husband and I set off to Las Vegas to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we were excited yet a little apprehensive. We had been invited to perform a Theatre Arts solo exhibition at a ballroom dance celebration, and were planning to dance our Christian ministry piece, “Transformed,” which uses the imagery of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly as a metaphor for salvation to eternal life (Romans 12:2). In our dance ministry, we often perform to largely unsaved audiences in secular settings. Yet we had never performed at the ballroom of a Las Vegas casino, so we prayed especially fervently that our message would be well received.

Added to that was the usual struggle of trying to tie up loose ends before we left home for a week, praying that our businesses would run smoothly and especially that our loved ones would be healthy and safe. Our son was suffering with a bad cold that kept him out of work for a few days and prevented us from getting together before we left. My husband’s mother, over 90 years old, had many chronic medical conditions that had caused her to be in and out of the hospital.

As our anniversary was in January, we were in the peak of snow and ice storms and bad weather, and numerous flights had been cancelled or delayed within days before our scheduled departure. It even crossed my mind that we might not make it to Vegas in time for our performance!

But as we left Tampa in unusually brisk 30 degree weather, we were relieved to be dressed in our long coats and even more blessed to have safe, on-time flights and arrival, so our fears were unfounded (1 John 4:18). Although the weather in Las Vegas had been chilly the week before, we were blessed with mild, sunny weather for most of our stay.

The gentleman who had invited us to perform, whom we had only met on one occasion several years ago, could not have been a more gracious host, treating us to many meals and driving us around to see many sights that would not have been possible without a car.

We saw David Copperfield’s show and were astounded by one illusion in which he blindfolded a woman from the audience and had her wander under a canopy of 100 ribbons, each tied to a different word provided by 100 other audience members. Another audience member started and stopped a recording of music whenever she wanted to, and when she stopped, the blindfolded woman stopped and reached up with her hand to grab the nearest word. Of all the words (some proper names, some common objects, and some emotions) she could have selected, she chose the word “FAITH!”

Well, that in itself would have been enough for me, as I was encouraged by this gentle reminder that all we need is to have faith (Matthew 17:20; 21:21), trusting and obeying God whether or not we see His hand at work. But David Copperfield’s illusion had just begun, and he asked the audience to raise our hands high in the air. As we had entered the theatre, we had been given white paper bracelets printed in black with “David Copperfield.” But now as we raised our hands high, black light shone on our bracelets to reveal the word “FAITH” appearing in fluorescent letters on each outstretched wrist!

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). But this got me thinking that every now and then, perhaps more often than we even notice, God gives us little glimpses of faith revealed (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:23). We do not need signs (Matthew 16:4) to know that God loves us and is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Still, I believe that He paints loving pictures to encourage and calm us, just as a parent might tuck a thoughtful note in their child’s lunch box to remind them how much they are loved.

Praise God for His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:8; Isaiah 25:1; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13)! This was manifest to us when all aspects of our performance came together beautifully, despite jet lag, lack of recent rehearsal, and what I thought might be a stomach flu and migraine I experienced that morning. We danced to a full house and very appreciative audience, and God allowed us to testify to His goodness and power of salvation, not only through our dance but verbally as well. Our prayer is that hearts were softened to Him as seed was planted (Matthew 13:3-32).

We had many exciting outings planned for the remainder of our trip, including seeing several Cirque de Soleil shows and walking around the magnificently decorated hotel lobbies. It is almost like walking around the world, as you can see replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Venetian canals, and the Coliseum all in the same day! But lest you think otherwise, we do not drink, smoke or gamble, and I joked that our stay may have set a record for the longest vacation in Las Vegas without a penny spent in a casino!

Our faith would be tested yet again, as one morning as we were traveling to see the Hoover Dam, Richard got a phone call from his sister. His mother had just been readmitted to the hospital for low blood sugar and pneumonia, but his sister reassured us that she would handle things and that we should not cut our trip short.

Naturally we were concerned, but as I gazed out the window at the blue, cloudless sky, I was blessed to see a perfect, white cross, perhaps left by two intersecting jet trails. Yet there was no fading off of the lines at their ends, and the arms of the cross were in exact proportion and right angled to the upright beam. Without Christ’s finished work on the cross to pay for our sins, and His resurrection to eternal life, which conquered the curse of sin and death, there would be no physical or spiritual healing (John 11:25-26; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). 

He is the Great Physician, and we can trust Him to rid our bodies of the curse of sin (Psalm 147:3), whether through His design for recuperation and disease-fighting He has programmed into us (Psalm 139:14; Hosea 6:1), or through taking us to Himself where we feel no pain, sickness, or suffering (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17; 21:4).

The third reminder of faith revealed was at the Grand Canyon, at Eagle Point where the rock formation resembles the outstretched wings of a giant eagle. This of course brought to mind Isaiah 40:31, which has always been a special verse for us in our dance ministry: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

As we left this breathtaking view I was surprised to see a small rainbow from the bus window. These always remind me of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises (Genesis 9:12-17), and yet this one was extraordinary, not for its size or beauty, but because it was there at all! We were told it hadn’t rained for weeks; there were no clouds in the sky; and typically it only rains briefly on 10 days out of the year in Las Vegas, for a total annual rainfall of less than 2 inches. Truly a dry and thirsty land (Psalm 63:1), thirsty not only for rain but for the Living Water of Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 4:15; John 4:10-11; Revelation 7:17), and yet God gave us a rainbow!

On the last day of our vacation, we were in fact treated to a 5-minute rain shower, followed by one of the largest, most brilliant rainbows I have ever seen, particularly resplendent as it stretched out over the blue and purple mountains outside the city. As we admired it, we reflected on God’s grace in arranging all details of our journey to make it a much-needed time of refreshing and renewal of our vows to one another, to our ministries, and to Him.

He saw us safely home to Tampa, and thankfully we traveled not on the day of, but on the day immediately following, massive delays and cancellations due to severe weather in Atlanta, and our flights were safe and only 30 minutes late. Richard’s mother was stable, and we were able to spend quality time with her in her last days, as He ultimately brought her safely home to Himself yesterday morning, Valentine’s Day. Once again a beautiful reminder of His perfect love, so great that He gave His only Son so that whosoever trusts in Him will never die, but will enjoy eternal life! (John 3:16)
Richard’s mother was saved very late in life, and it is our prayer that her memorial service will lead others to know Him. May we all continue to witness to and pray for those who do not yet know Christ, no matter how old or set in their ways, as nothing is impossible for Him!  (Matthew 19:26) May we not grow weary of doing His work, for if we persist, we will see the harvest in His perfect timing! (Galatians 6:9)

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Nadwra┼╝liwiec said...

Congratulation for You and Your husband for Your anniversary!
I wasn't in Las Vegas (and even nor in the USA...), but I watched it in TV. Our Polish cities aren't so rich and plenty of lights, even the biggest (like my Cracow - second biggest city in my country).
Greetings for You :) In my newest post is probably prophecy - but I'm not sure, if it's real prophecy. God and time will show.

Ceil said...

Hi Laurie! It comes to me that the people who look for God, find him. In rainbows, in 'faith', in nature...and you saw it all. I hope your dance performance lifted many spirits. I'm sure it did. Happy Anniversary!

How like the Lord to take your mother-in-law on Valentine's Day. Our day of celebration of love was the day to show his. And you could be right there too. I will pray for you and your husband, and your MIL too. Blessings to you all as you mourn her passing, and prepare for the funeral.

Thank you for sharing your witnessing, and your sadness. You are a very generous blog-friend.

Brenda said...

What a beautiful post Laurie, in which the Lord revealed His instruction to you and you followed that instruction. Although there is sadness that Richard and yourself and the rest of the family will miss his mother, there is also gladness in the fact that she came to be a believer in Jesus. That is the one thing that comforted me when my lovely sister died at the age of fifty two, that she had become a believer in Jesus.
God bless you Laurie.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Zim, for your kind greetings & wishes! Even among American cities, Las Vegas is very impressive in terms of lights. But they pale in comparison to the glories of God's creation. Looking forward to reading your blog. Blessings to you,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Ceil,
Thanks as always for brightening my spirit with your encouraging words. They are always a blessing, and especially in this difficult time. I appreciate your sympathy and prayers.
Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda -- joy will come in the morning when we are reunited with all our loved ones in Christ at the Rapture. There is sadness for those still on earth, but we would not want those already in His presence to give up that immeasurable bliss in order to return to us who are still in this sin-stained world. God bless you too,

Donald Fishgrab said...

As I read and see how God produces such minute details in my life, I wonder how anyone can deny his existence, but know Satan has blinded their minds so they aren't even aware of his working.

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Donald -- evidence of His creation and existence surround every one us, to the point that there is no excuse for those who do not believe, and yet so many prefer to place their faith in the "gods" of chance and coincidence.
Thanks as always for sharing your insights, and God bless,

Denise said...

Happy Anniversary.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! God bless,

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I apologise fror commenting late, but I'm glad you had a very blessed holiday (vacation) to celebrate your wedding anniversary. I hope everything goes well for your mother-in-law. A phone call like that can spoil the enjoyment of your time away. But as you say, being close to the Lord and seeing his signs in the sky can be very re-assuring.
As with the Grand Canyon, pardon me for saying this, but I'm absolutely fascinated with this natural phenomenon! The above photo looks as if taken from the South Rim, with a view of the Bright Angel Canyon leading away towards the North Rim. On the far right is Zoroaster Temple Butte, which is even more stunning when viewed from the Colorado River.
Twice in my lifetime I hiked to the bottom of the Canyon, using the Bright Angel Trail, and those were in 1978 and again in 1995. Both occasions I stayed at Phantom Ranch, next to Bright Angel Creek, a tributary which joins the Colorado a little way downstream from the Ranch.
As for the night sky, never before in the whole of my lifetime had I enjoyed a magnificent display of stars as those seen from the Ranch, particularly in 1995. Finally, after hiking back up to the Rim the next day, at the Village I came upon a plaque, on which was etched:
How manifold are your works! In wisdom thou hast made them all: thy earth is full of your riches."
Psalm 104:24.
Indeed, as with the skywriting taking form of a cross and of the rainbow, God speakes to us through nature as well as through his word.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Frank, as always, for your enlightening comment! I am not as familiar with the Canyon, so I appreciate your input on this vantage point and landmarks. Hiking down sounds like an amazing adventure, highlighted by the stars and the plaque you saw! I would love to do that someday.
Thanks also for your good wishes. My mother-in-law passed Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day) and her memorial service is tomorrow. We are praying that the Gospel message will open hearts to Him.
God bless,

Katherines Corner said...

Thank you for joining the fun ans sharing your sweet blog at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop ♥

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I just love seeing the words SAVED BY GRACE...thanks for sharing the inspiration on the Thursday Blog Hope...Blessings!

a joyful noise said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful vacation week with us here at "Tell Me a Story." God is so faithful to give us peace and his reassurance, even sending signs in the sky to let you know of his love.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Katherine, for your comment & for hosting! Blessings,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Pam! Saved by Grace are sweet words indeed! Thanks for hosting & your sweet comment,

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Hazel, for hosting & for your lovely comment. Praise God that He is faithful and loves His children infinitely!
Love in Him,

Covenant Grace said...

Happy Anniversary!

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Trinity Grace! God bless,