T-2 Days until the parents come
Czech word of the day:
It’s been a while. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts down for a few weeks now, so here goes.
Amsterdam: I had been looking forward to this trip for a while, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We planned to stay on a boat, visit the Anne Frank House, see the Tulips in Keukenhof, go to the Van Gogh museum, take a river cruise, and explore the city. But I also knew that the city was known for their red light district and their legalization of marijuana. My emotions were a mix of excitement and nervousness for what the weekend would hold, but I packed my bag and off we went.
You know how you can hear about something for so long and think you “know” it, but then you experience it in real life and it catches you off guard? Well, while we were wandering through the winding streets of Amsterdam we made a turn which led us through a part of the red light district. At first, I was caught off guard. Then I realized the true reality of what we were walking past. We began to pick up our pace a bit and all looked at each other after walking through expressing how surreal it was to be there in real life, rather than to simply be hearing about it. When you put 5 college students in a city to roam and find their way around there was no doubt we would find ourselves down one of those streets again so I made a resolution—I committed to taking those quite unexpected opportunities to “prayer walk”. I prayed for the city, for the women, for the men, for the youth, and the children of the city and all those the city brings to it. To be honest, the experience has still stuck with me even weeks later; and so I continue to pray for Amsterdam. To pray that the Lord would reveal himself to those who live there, that His presence would surround those involved in the red light district, that they would come to know the love He so freely gives to all His children, no matter what our lives look like. Walking through made me question how many other things I think I “know” but in reality don’t actually understand at all. It can be easy, at least for me, to think I know something and then upon experiencing it realize I had no real idea of its actual reality.
Amsterdam is also known for the fact that marijuana is legal there. Before leaving for Amsterdam, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this aspect of the city’s culture. When I got there I was pleasantly surprised. Other than smelling it randomly throughout the day and seeing souvenirs with it on them, persistent exposure to it was minimal. Granted, it’s not like we walked around trying to find it.
We were up one night hanging out in the lobby of our boat hotel (I’m not kidding haha we slept on a legit boat) and started talking to the “captain”. One of us asked what the city is known for and what we have to check out during our visit and he said, “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” at first we laughed, but after I thought about it—he was right. Amsterdam had all those things…and most of it draws people in. Amsterdam was a moving weekend. I learned a lot, not only about myself, but about the world around me. I learned that although I may think I “know” something I really probably don’t. I understood more deeply the reality of the world’s brokenness and its desperate need for Christ.
An outstanding young woman back at Southeastern is incredibly passionate about missions in the Netherlands, specifically Amsterdam. I admire now more than I ever did the heart the Lord has given her for the city and nation—for Him to call His people back to Him, into His love. The way I pray for the city and for the Lord to guide her has changed since I’ve visited Amsterdam.
It could be so easy for us to blindly acknowledge what is happening all around us, but why should we? We are servants of the Lord, the world isn’t supposed to please us and it shouldn’t seem normal to us. We can’t be afraid to question what happens here, especially when it doesn’t align with His Word. But I don’t think it should stop with us simply questioning what is happening; we need to be active in our approach and in our awareness. Just this morning in church the pastor was talking about Matthew 13 and The Parable of the Sower. Some points he made that I really loved were, “It’s worth it to scatter the seed.” and “Seeds in the bag won’t sprout.” The parable likens the Word of God and the Gospel to the seeds scattered by the farmer. As Christians the seed has been sewn into our hearts and we are growing in Christ day by day—but we only received the seed (the Gospel) by someone who was willing to share it with us at some point in our lives. If the Gospel is such wonderful news, we need to be spreading seeds everywhere. So here’s to being active in the world and spreading seeds of the Good News everywhere we go.