Lessons from Israel / the Journey / The Mapps Quest

Israel – a preface

Today I leave for my first trip over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s pretty amazing to think about all the little events and new people God has placed in my life to bring me to this point. I wanted to write it down so that someday when I’m looking back, I will remember how His hand made this possible, and that it was no work of my own. I don’t know what He wants to show me, or what I will learn while I’m there, but I know that it’s going to be good – and I’ve had this feeling that something wonderful is about to transpire in how I serve Him and where.

This story really begins on the day I was saved (and really even from birth), but I will start at the most recent event that led to my being able to travel. Two years ago in September, I was asked to do a photoshoot for a woman whom I had met while taking photos of her sister’s wedding. The shoot was for the cover of her magazine (Resale Houston). After I had sent the photos she asked if I wanted a free ad in the magazine and so I designed one and sent it over. She was so pleased with the design that she asked me to do all her new advertiser’s ads, as well as the covers.

In November we started going to our church, Bay Area First Baptist. My husband recognized a man there and we were immediately swept up into his life group. During this time my husband and I were baptized, and met the communications pastor, John, who also was leading the ‘membership class’ which we attended. After we were officially members (this was in January 2013) we attended the ‘new members’ reception and again talked with John. We told him about our desires to grow and to see others grow deeply in their walks with Christ. Both my husband and I have been given the desire to study the Bible and history rigorously, and we feel it is imperative for the church to know it’s roots, and be solid in it’s doctrines.

Several weeks later we had met with John multiple times and were now starting our own life group. He had also become privy to the fact that I wanted to serve somehow and that I did graphic design and photography. Since that time I have been making new graphics and taking photos of different church functions and people. Along the way we saw last years group leave and return from Israel and a desire started inside of me that I wanted to go. I mentioned it once to my pastor, and also the whole world on Facebook. I believe I said something like: “Who wants to send me to Israel in 2014?” I got some fun responses, and it was all meant as a joke kind of, but I really didn’t expect anyone to do anything about it.

Around September or so we had a new visitor to our life group and she really enjoyed it. I will call her Ms. S. She liked our group because of the emphasis on doctrines and going back to God’s word. Also at that time I began a weight loss regiment and started working out harder and eating better. By Christmas I was in excellent shape and wondering why it had taken so many years to finally get here.. that maybe God had me lose the weight and change my diet because I was going to get cancer or something and this would be my new eating habit. After Christmas (Jan. 2014) I was walking into the sanctuary and my pastor stopped me and asked if I was still interested in going to Israel. I said yes but that it was monetarily impossible for us. He told me that the church wanted to scholarship 1/3 of the cost for me because of my work for them. I was elated!!

The next day I got a phone call for a wedding photography gig that would be scheduled for the weekend in the middle of the Israel trip. I had to make a decision about whether or not I was going to go. The problem is that even though I was scholarshiped for part of the cost, there was no way I was going to be able to pay for the rest. I wrote to my pastor and told him the situation and asked if there was anyone else who needed the scholarship, and that he should give it to them. He told me no, that it was for me, and that he would be praying for the rest of the money I needed. Right then I knew that I had to decide if I would trust God to get me there or just blow the whole thing off. I wrote back to the wedding inquiry and declined, saying I would be in Israel on that day. Next, I posted another cry for help on Facebook, “Who wants to pay my way to Israel??” This time there were no responses.

That next Sunday in our life group I started telling everyone about how I just knew I was going to get to go to Israel and how our pastor had helped me. Then Ms. S turned to me and said, “You’re right. You are going to go.” I said, “Yep, I just know that He will provide and that I’m going.” Then she said, “No, I mean you are going. I’m going to pay for the rest of your trip.” I was so taken aback I was just in shock and smiling and about to cry. I couldn’t believe that someone would do that for me. Why me? I’m still not sure why God laid that on her heart to do, but He did, and I’m sure I will find out. LOL

So now all the pieces were coming together for me. God had me take photos at a wedding. God had me take photos of the bride’s sister so I could make an ad. God had me do graphic design so John would see my work and ask me to do it for the church as my way of service. God had me serving the church so they could scholarship me. God had me lose weight and stay prepared physically all this time for the trip. God set it all up so that it was totally paid for. God revealed His will for my life in this one moment, and showed me that He loved me. I asked for something, and I got it. I asked for something that will inevitably bring me closer to Him, and He – in His grace – gave me over and abundantly more than I asked for. Not only am I going to Israel, but I have new friends.

There is so much more to this story but there are just not enough words to write it. I am overwhelmed by His grace towards me not only in being able to go on this journey, but the deep things He has been revealing to me as I study and prepare to walk the land. I have learned about and finally felt His deep love for me. My soul longs for nothing more than to be closer to Him and to just soak in the brilliance of His majesty. How blessed I am to have such a Savior!

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. – Jude, Doxology

Talk to you soon friends.

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