"Traveling overseas can bring out a few of my more ‘American’ personality traits: a fondness for punctuality, a desire to follow the plan, and a priority on organization. Those are not strictly American traits, to be sure. But many cultures simply dance to a different rhythm: things don’t always start or end on time, plans are subject to much change, and being organized is nice but not always a priority. I recently helped coach at a sports camp in the Middle East — planned many months ahead of time — and it was incredibly successful, despite endless changes to venue, sport, number and ability of participants. As with so many situations in life where things end up being out of our control, we learned to enjoy what did happen and not just push for what we thought would happen.

We learned about the grace of letting go.

One thing we observed at our camp is that sport does a body and soul good, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or ability. It crosses social barriers — so a rich man’s daughter warmly embraces an orphan girl. It promotes belonging — so the able-bodied have fun playing with those living with a disability. It instills confidence — so learning a sport technique gives a reason to stand a little taller. It encourages leadership — so a quiet participant blossoms under the challenge of responsibility.  We might have started and ended late, had a fluctuating number of participants, and generally never known what each day would bring. But without fail, every day brought fun and friendship, a great reminder to me that programs and plans are not more important than people. Because these people! I wish you could have been there with us — to see the smiles on their beautiful faces; to hear their laughter; and to see Joy lift their darkness, even for a moment.

“Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.”
[Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 16]

The mind of God was behind our sports camp, and we tried to keep that thought strong and growing throughout the weeks. Many times what God does is beyond what we can see, but His will was visible to us as camp details changed for the better. New venues brought new relationships with local contacts. We went beyond basketball to also include soccer and special needs activities, accommodating far more participants than we anticipated. Truly, even the smallest details of camp happened according to God’s will, and as the days passed we learned to rest in perfect confidence in Him.

It was a beautiful experience, a tangible gift in so many ways. I am always glad for the opportunity to travel and meet new faces in new places. Because for a few weeks this summer, this American in the Middle East practiced adjusting on the fly, learned to see God behind all things, and appreciated the deep grace of letting go."

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