Pastor, Rev. David Jimenez
Dear MUMC Family,
I pray that the beginning of 2020 has proven to be a good start in your life as you strive to be more like Jesus. I am expectant and eager to see what God has in store for us at Memorial Church in this year. If I can be open with you all I did not expect to be here in Germany to welcome the 2020, but God's plans were different and while they are good and perfect, sometimes we cannot fully understand them. So I asked one thing to God, "please let it be a sunny and not so rainy winter for us". God answered and has been a beautiful Fall/Winter season in here, bright, warm, and not so wet. For me God's answer-and the beautiful weather-brings me a smile because I can see that even in those difficult times of unexpected turn of events God's mercy still shows and covers me while telling me that He is taking care of things and that everything will be alright.
During the month of January, it seems, that the whole Jimenez's decided to share a virus and we all got sick at for a total of 20 days altogether. Although Barbara and I have experienced getting sick at the same time, for Anna it was the very first time she got sick in the 20 months she has. As parents it was a difficult time since both of us were sick and could barely take care of her (I lost my voice for almost 7 days), and it was difficult seeing her suffering. Thankfully God was merciful and Anna came out better at the end; she grew up, her brain noticeably developed, and she is stronger and happier now!
Now as we enter February we are getting ready to make the transition to Virginia (by faith!) as we have received word that a resolution for my case will come around Feb. 20th at the latest; so that brings us hope that soon this waiting period will be-and at some extent we can feel it too. My wife has already started cleaning the flat we currently live in and started either selling or giving away something things that we know are too cumbersome to bring with us. So we are finally getting ready for the move!
This brings me to a story found in Exodus 13:20-22. It is an excerpt of the larger story of Israel's exodus.
20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
As an interesting note, when I visited the island of Cyprus I learned that they still speak a very ancient form of Greek. I am able to read some Greek at very limited level, but still, I do not know why I was surprised to know that the "exits" from the highway were signalized as "exodus" in Greek, which is their literal meaning. Coming back to our story, as we may remember this story takes place right after the people of Israel exits Egypt and now they are on their way to the promise land. However a couple of verses earlier (Exodus 13:17-18) there is a note that explains God's plan for the route that the Israelites would take.
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
So at this point the question should be asked: "Why God acts what He does in our lives?". The answer is simple and obvious "because He has a plan". However, it is not always easy to see God's plan. There is an explanation in Exodus 13:17 of the reasons behind God's decision on leading the Israel-ites on a longer and apparently more difficult road when a shorter way was a clear possibility. Moreo-ver, apparently the longer road appeared to be more dangerous as not only were they circling around, but also they were going through the wilderness as vulnerable people. Indeed, God had a reason to do it, yet the most amazing part is that He was present among them in the form of a cloud or of a col-umn of fire. So even though they went through the harder and longer road they were never alone nor vulnerable.
The same goes for us as believers in Christ, as a Christian community in our city, and as a de-nomination worldwide. Sometimes we cannot understand why God takes us through these journeys and think that a different solution would be shorter, better, and more appropriate one. However, we do not see what God sees and we do not know what He knows. That is why when He takes us on a jour-ney the wisest thing that to do is trust in His love and graceful ways and simply go with Him. Trust in Him that his plans, His ways, and His will is better than anything that we can propose and follow Him.
There is a powerful prayer that I am always reminded when I am faced with the unknown, and always brings me back to a safe place: "If Your presence does not go with us," Moses replied, "do not lead us up from here (Exodus 33:15)." The same prayer is the one that we should always pray and repeat when faced with an unexpected route. So my prayer for us Memorial Church is that we are able to recognize His plans and ways and be under His protection all the time; that our earnest desire is to follow Him above all. Amen.