Goodbye Japan… for a little while.

So last night’s commute to the airport was… Eventful… A narrowly made Shinkansen, a then crazy 2-hour-undirect-middle-of-the-night-commute to Narita airport, a taxi journey with two new Chinese friends and a taxi driver who was, quite frankly, a bit mad, and a then delayed flight that sees me only just checking through customs at 1.15pm… Wow. Talk about finishing a youth camp tired to go into even more tiredness!! This is one of those journey’s that will make for a great sermon illustration!!

However, praise God for the reminders of His grace that He just slips into the little everyday occurrences… because I didn’t get charged for heavy baggage even though my suitcase was about 3 kilos over (that’s presents… I left one whole bag of books in Japan to make more space already!!), and I got an upgraded seat on the flight home… Score!! God is so good with His little blessings of favour, and I am excited to sleep for the whole 12 hour journey!!

Today’s meditation has also been on God’s goodness. Because He is so good, and so ‘for’ us. And we were talking this morning about how sometimes we feel like we’re pleading with God to be good to us or to bless us… When that’s His heart. His natural inclination towards me is love. He is love. And that doesn’t mean that life will be easy, or without pain, or give me a licence to live how I want to… But it assures me that His promises are always yes and amen. But does anyone else ever do that? You go to God, and you’re like, ‘Please, please, please God… Be good to me.’ And I can almost imagine Him lovingly shaking His head and saying, ‘But Peta. I am always good to you. That’s who I am. It’s what I love to do. I have saved you, and sealed you and redeemed you, all for the name of love. You can trust the promises of my Word are true. I am love.’ Not a weak love based on emotion or feeling or fear, but a love so strong it conquered the grave, and forgave my sin, and saved my soul for eternity. A love that is jealous and kind and strong and wide and deep and vast. Because God is good. And He is love. I was reading Exodus over breakfast in my devotional time this morning, and I just got caught in chapters 32-34 where Moses is asking the Lord to bless and forgive Israel. And they have just sinned, but Moses engages in this dialogue with God where He just stands in the gap for them, and He reveals a heart that is desperate for the Presence of God in all things. He says it, ‘Do not let me leave here if Your Presence does not go with me.’ And He realises this: that when God is for us, when His very Presence and Spirit is with us, abiding in us, dwelling amongst us… Then no one can stand against us. And when we pursue God with this heart, that hungers for Him and His ways, then God draws us close. He has done everything to be close to us.

And that’s a beautiful thought for me right now. Because I just cried some tears as I said my goodbyes and headed for my plane. And my heart breaks when I think about all I have learnt and all God has shown and the need here. And I am not satisfied to just going back to living my ‘normal’, ‘comfortable’ everyday life when I sit on a train and pass the thousands upon thousands of houses and flats representing the thousands and thousands and thousands here who have never heard the Gospel. But God is still so incredibly good. And He is love. Real love. True love. And I have been amazed over these last two months about how God has answered my prayers. He has brought certainty when I have doubted, fruitfulness when I have felt inadequate and true wisdom when I have lacked understanding. And I was saying this morning, I have never felt so loved by Jesus, nor have I ever loved Him as much as I do right now. There’s a freedom and a joy and a dancing in that abundance and that relationship that can’t be quenched.

And that brings me more hope than I can ever put into words.

So here are some photos from my final goodbyes, and some reminders of a few of the people who are very precious to my heart.

Those of you in the UK, I’ll see you soon. Those of you in Japan, let’s pray that these doors remain wide open!

I love you all! πŸ™‚

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