Hi girls, I’m Carissa Reeves! I’m married 16 years to Steve and together we have 4 arrows in our quiver. We were married 4 years before we felt called to serve Him however He would lead. It has been such a wild ride. I introduce myself this way because I feel like my identity is a product of the experiences He has led us through. He has taken us on a journey of paramount joy and suffering. We left the US in 2006 to live in Hungary, Ethiopia, Trenton NJ (which was the most foreign for this South Carolina girl) and finally in China for the last 8 years. I feel as though my whole being is a blend of cultures that I hope to explain as I share with you this week how He is unchanging. It doesn’t matter where you live or how you rub up against different cultures….He stays the same.
Hebrews13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
I can easily answer the question “how has God been unchanging one to me?”
It is funny to answer this question in June in reference to vacation because I vacation in December. He usually provides a time for us to visit our family and friends in the US during July and the first part of August but never in June. June is a month of work for us and we finish totally exhausted. So I will tell you a story of a recent vacation in December that is a precious proof of His steadfastness toward me. I hope it will be evidence of his steadfast love for you.
Our main ministry is a school and an international church. We rev up big time for the beginning of the school year and don’t catch our breath until Christmas break. Years ago, we found a missionary retreat center in Thailand on the beach and we celebrate His birth there with other like minded families with similar ministries every year. It’s a simple place in a small fishing village and a true vacation from the environment we call home.
So the story begins with me running on the beach. I love to run. I am not a runner” but I love to play to loud worship songs and tire myself for 30 minutes. It makes me feel free. Running on the beach is my favorite. It’s probably in my top 5 things I love to do in all of life. While we are on vacation, every afternoon I go for a jog and take in the view and breathe in the salt air. This might be the right place to tell you about my husband Steve. He has had Crohns disease most of his life. He’s a trooper about it almost all of the time, but it has been the center of most of our family trials for these 16 years. Last Christmas (2016) as I ran on the beach crying out to the Lord for respite from the tumultuous waves that chronic illness invites, He showed me an anchor. Just a boxy anchor attached to a fishing boat. I ran past it every afternoon during our week of rest and thanked Him for a lesson. I raised up an Ebenezer in my heart and by His spirit wrote Hebrews 6:19 on my heart. (and got a tattoo of an anchor on my foot like a good red neck girl) The tattoo is important because I used a picture of the anchor as a template for the design. I returned to my ministry and began to study the book of Hebrews with a group of ladies every Wednesday night.
We returned to the same Christmas spot this past December full of the same heaviness. My husband was perhaps more sick than ever and our spirits were as worn out as our bodies. It was exceptionally cool in Thailand for some strange reason and we stayed near the buildings for the first few days of vacation. The wind on the beach made it too cold for fun. After the weather changed and the beach was warm again I went for a run. The tide was high and the struggles in my heart were higher. I ran with anger and desperation. I told Him of my anger and disappointment, for the testimony he was giving us isn’t the one we asked for. This isn’t the race I signed up to run. I turned around at my usually tree and headed back toward the Juniper Tree. I was almost home when I saw an old rope coming out of the sand. I remembered where my anchor had been the year before and I immediately began to cry. It isn’t easy to exercise and cry at the same time, but it is becoming my spiritual gift. I took off my shoes and socks and walked into the surf with huge tears rolling down my face. Could this be my anchor? The one he showed me last year? Was it in the same place? I put down my music and tugged on the rope. It was stuck in the sand quite well so I fought for it sobbing wildly. Finally I got some leverage and began to see the top of the anchor and I knew it was mine. I had studied the design so well. I tugged and tugged until I saw that whole rusty thing laying on the sand with me. I sat down in the water and cried. I took pictures from every angle so I could remember how rusty and covered in junk it was. Even the rope was green with algae and dirt.
But it was in the same place! I had gone around the world 1 time since I had seen it last and still there it was. In front of the shack that sells thai iced tea. I had piled on sin and bitterness and anger and discouragement and disbelief and it was uglier than before. But it was in the same place. And it was still doing what an anchor does. A holdfast.
And like Him, took on all my junk, made himself ugly for me, but never changed. He is in the same place. We go left and right and diagonal out of His will for us and when we return he’s still there. In the same place with the same character watching over us with the same love.