I have only been in the hospital for two nights but the Lord has given the opportunity for me to share stories of my Philippine adventures already. The one I’m going to share with you right now seems to be popular around here so maybe it will be popular with you as well, I don’t know.
So there we were, on a stage in an brand new amphitheater, about to play the last concert we would ever play in the Philippines, as the great Pacific ocean painted our backdrop. Since this is the tail end of our tour, my lungs are pretty much shot. I mean, I can hardly walk around or talk to people without gasping for air or having a coughing fit. So I’m left wondering if I will be able to make it through this concert, knowing full well that I won’t unless the Lord intercedes and gives me breath. All I could do was pray that the Lord would sustain me and that I wouldn’t have to have Carrie and Sara sing my 5 songs (which they totally could have done…and done very well).
As I took the stage with my fellow teammates I reminded myself, Gretch, you just have to trust the Lord, there is nothing you can do at this point. Whatever happens happens…Lord I need you!
Before I knew it the time for me to show all my cards had come. The intro to Set the World on Fire was long over; I stepped forward, opened my mouth, and wimpishly sang the intro. And then something amazing and unforgettable happened…I got to the part of the song that says, I am small but you are big enough. I am weak but you are strong enough. And that was it, my lungs were opened up like never before, a breeze swept across the stage and I knew that the Lord was answering my prayer in a very obvious way. I sang all 4 of my songs without any help from the other girls and I tag-teamed the song we had learned the day before with Sara. It was incredible. Suddenly, I could breathe. Suddenly I saw clearly that the Lord doesn’t need me for anything, but he chooses to use me; to be part of His story, and when he chooses me, he also prepares the way and makes it possible for me to carry out that calling. Hallelujah Jesus!
Another really cool thing about this, and this is something that Carl pointed out during our debriefing at CTI, is that during our second week of ministry in the Philippines (on the island of Cebu) our theme became weakness: how we are all week but God is shown to be powerful in that weakness.
Carl and I have been pinned The Dynamic Duo by our team. Why? Because whenever the team is asked to share a message with a church on Sunday mornings, I have recited a passage of scripture and Carl has preached on that passage. It’s really fun and I think we all get a lot out of it. So I think this whole theme emerged after one of these instances when Carl and I were slotted to become that dynamic duo again. I decided I wanted to recite from 2 Corinthians so we did a message based off of 2 Cor. 12:9 which says, But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).
At first it seemed kind of random for us to have chosen that passage to share with a congregation that we had never met before. But looking back on it, it was the most appropriate thing we could have said. People were coming up to us after the services and saying things like, “wow, that was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. How did you know?” the pastor even said, “That was perfect! We are studying that very passage right now in some of our cell-groups”.
So, going back to what Carl was pointing out earlier, we started this theme without really even knowing it, and it helped people see the Lord in a way they may not have before. Not only that, but the Lord gave US (as a team) a very real example of how that passage/that theme is revealed in life. We were all so weak in those last days. We were sick, we were exhausted. We were so small in a massive world held together by One God. But that same God that holds the world together with his mighty hand, also has the tenderness to sustain our feeble lives, and use them to do something great in this world….even if that something great is just singing a song.