"...and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." - Matt. 16:18
Wow! What an amazing whirlwind of adventures in Key West and the Florida Keys. To even try to type it all out is an overwhelming feat, but I will do my best. We'll start at the beginning..."On This Rock - Part 1".
First, some fun facts. The Florida Keys are a series of islands off the very bottom tip of Florida. It takes roughly 2.5 - 3 hours to drive all the way to "The End" which is my home island of Key West. It is mile marker "0" and the road literally stops there. The only thing past that is ocean and if you took a boat 90 miles straight off the southernmost point, you would land in Cuba. Even though Key West is labeled "the end" of the road, I always saw it as the beginning. It's mile marker "0", so for me, it's where everything begins. We always started there, drove up the keys, and then we could branch out. I'm only now learning to see how powerful that perspective really is.
Also, the Keys are largely made up of limestone rock jutting up out of the water. Because of this, many who live there (including myself) simply and affectionately call Key West "The Rock". I firmly, 100 percent believe that God has some incredible plans for that tiny island, as well as the keys that are connected to it. Something's stirring in the Spirit and we've already witnessed - what I believe - is just a taste of what's to come.
So we'll begin our story here (even though there is a prelude, but that's for another time). A few days before Memorial Day Weekend, we packed everything we could fit in our Honda Pilot (and trust me, as children of the 80's, we excel at Tetris!) However, with 3 adults, a toddler, props, costumes, and the basics, our trusty, very well-packed pilot, has become extremely tight. (It has become abundantly clear that we are in great need of an RV.)
Loaded to the brim, we began making our way down the Keys. On Pentecost Sunday, we were thrilled to be back at Spirit and Truth Ministries in Tavernier - not far from Christopher's childhood home. It's always a special blessing for us to get back to our roots. Everyone at Spirit and Truth feels like family - maybe because a lot of them actually are!
Pastor Marlin welcomed us with open arms once again and gave us the opportunity to lead praise and worship. We stripped it down to a simple set with acoustic guitar and vocals only. The amazing thing is that the set we had prepared for Spirit and Truth ended up being the same set that our home church presented that same Sunday! I just love how God works.
After spending some time all together in His presence, we updated the congregation on all the awesome things God had done since we were there 3 months prior (which is a whole 'nother post), then Christopher graciously moved aside so that I could speak the words that God downloaded to me for the congregation the night before. (Chris had been preparing a message for weeks, but allowed God to be God and handed me the mic - a sometimes scary feat in and of itself!)
I spoke of dreams, goals, vision and the journey from valley to victory. One of the big things that God has been speaking to Chris and I both lately is the importance of "abiding", and John 15:4 has been bubbling up in our Spirit a lot recently. "Remain in me and I will remain in you. For a branch can not produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you can not be fruitful unless you remain in me.” Apart from Him we can do nothing. This brought up the point that our devotion time is good, but so often, we leave God there. Instead, I encourage you to bring Him with you throughout your day.
We closed the message with a powerful drama to music. It's a piece that God gave us in a few hours the last time we were in Key West, and it revolves around the fact that so often, we carry around so much junk that we either put on ourselves or that others put on us. Things like shame, condemnation, depression, loneliness, fear, anxiety - the list goes on and on. We get weighed down, tied up and blinded by it all and we don't even realize it. But there is hope. There is freedom. There is Jesus.
The message hit home. Despite lack of sleep, technical difficulties, and a very cute but sometimes distracting toddler, lives were impacted. God touched His people, strongholds were broken and lives were changed for eternity. Thank you, Jesus! When we do our part, put in the work, go where He sends us, do the best we can to follow His lead and obey His Word, it sets the stage for Him to shine. And that is our entire purpose.