Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Sky Full of Stars.....and Promise

To say my trip to Jordan in October of last year was arranged by God would be to highlight the extraordinarily obvious. A little more than a year ago, I started working with a school that teaches English to international students. Once there, I met a coworker who spent several years in Jordan with his wife. As we talked, the pieces just fell into place and the 4 of us (husband, wife, son…and me, Uncle Dennis), confirmed plans to set out for Jordan. For those of you who have spent time in the middle of God’s will for your life know things just, well, “happen” when you stay there.

So, October found me flying over the Atlantic Ocean to an enigmatic place for me…the Jordan spoken of so much in the Bible. The stated reason for this trip was to provide sports equipment for some of the Jordanian schools most overwhelmed by the thousands of Syrian refugees that have fled to Jordan to escape the tragic conflict there. (Read about the project here.) That reason was more than enough for me to venture outside—a good distance outside—of my comfort zone. However, in my heart, I knew God had a larger reason for me to make this journey.

Once in Jordan, I was immediately captivated by the city of Amman, with its western architecture mixed with its Arabic culture and uniquely Jordanian hospitality. All the while, my “tour guides” assured me there were some really amazing things we just had to see while we were there. The lowest point on earth. The backdrop for one of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies. The most complete ancient Roman ruins in the Middle East. The crossroads to the ancient world, where Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt all converge. More locations than I can recall that hold immense Biblical significance.

So, it will likely sound perhaps a bit strange to note the moment of greatest epiphany for me happened as we drove through the desert at night. No lights, no cities, no villages, not even any buildings. At one point we pulled onto the shoulder of the road and turned off the headlights of the quaint little rental we drove that week. When I got out of the car and looked up, I was immediately struck speechless by the thousands upon thousands of stars in the night sky above us. As a city boy, I can never remember seeing that many stars in Indiana. That moment forever changed the way I view God as Creator. When Genesis tells us God placed the stars in the Heavens, I had no idea of the vastness of the number of stars He placed there…just for me at that moment.

As I stood there dumbfounded, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that when God had promised Abraham his descendants would number as the stars, and through them the entire world would be blessed (Gen 26:4); it was these very stars Abraham used to gauge the depth of that promise and the love God has for His creation was the keystone of that promise.

Of all the amazing sites Jordan has to offer, I challenge you to think differently about how amazing God is when you see the nighttime sky, full of more stars than you have ever seen as part of Beyond Bethany Tours.

By: Dennis Papenmeier