"Bind them upon thy fingers,
write them upon the table of thine heart."
All over the world, for so many different things, there are symbols. Something that represents something else, that stands for it. Serpents on a pole is the medical symbol, a rams head is the Dodge symbol, and so on and so forth.
Jesus died on the cross as a symbol of His love, and today people use a cross symbol as a reminder of that.
My friends and I have braided bands and bracelets as a symbol for something I'd like to write about.
This summer my friend Faith was able to take a seven week missions trip to the country of Papua New Guinea. She went with 3 other college students to help the Allen family. Before she left, she braided us all bracelets out of old tee shirts. The colors were red, black, and yellow - the colors in the PNG flag. They were a reminder to pray for not only her, but Ashley, Xander, Scott, the Allen family, and the country of PNG. We prayed for safety, protection, blessings, and countless other things as we got prayer requests in our email inboxes. When she tied that bracelet on my wrist and I promised to wear it the whole time she was over there, I didn't realize it wouldn't be budging for 13 weeks.
This summer, if you happened to visit our church or come to one of our camps, you would have seen these braided bands all over the place. On peoples wrists, as bookmarks in their Bible, on their car's rearview mirror, on key chains, and even one iPod. Several people asked about them, and we nearly tripped over ourselves talking about Papua New Guinea. We fell in love with a place we'd never been, because we loved someone there.
They started out with just the teens and a few adults. I made some bookmarks and mailed them to some of my family who asked for one, and we made them in our VBS class and little kids proudly wore them and prayed for PNG and people they didn't know.
And then, a few weeks before Faith came home, another missions trip was planned. This time for ten of us to go to Germany for ten days. The flag colors - red, black, and yellow. Coincidence? I choose to think not.
The bracelets stayed on another week and a half, to remind everyone to pray for us, the Biermans and the Lawrences, and Germany. And then we returned. A few of us left them on even longer. By this time, mine felt like an extension of myself. Unconsciously, I would put my left hand over my right wrist and pray for everyone I had promised to in my mind. This became a habit, as did holding it away from the pages from my Bible in church on Sunday mornings because it was always still wet from my shower, or not writing for a while after showering because it got the pages damp.
I took my bracelet off last Saturday night. It was strange. My wrist felt bare, and I wanted to put it right back on. But instead I attached it to my key chain and vowed that I wouldn't stop praying.
Last night on the way home from church Amie and I were talking in the car, and once again, in my head, I was praying for all the things I had been all summer. It was like my conscience "came to" and I looked down to see my left hand on my now-bare right wrist. A habit that I don't plan on breaking. It's still a reminder, even if I can't always see it. Just like God is always there, even if we don't always feel Him.
This summer, like most of our lives, our hearts beat as one. Something happened two years ago, when God became almost tangible, that knit us together. There is a desire in each of us to please the Lord, we crave His will, and it makes us close. We are a unified group. It’s diverse yet beautiful. And these “braided bands” are symbol of God’s wonderful blessings on us this summer. Even for those who weren’t able to go on a missions trip, and maybe even especially those. They were and are the prayer warriors, and God’s getting ready to pour out His blessings on them as well, I just know it. Because whether it’s our little hick town or a clinic in Papua New Guinea or a village in Germany, our mission field is where we are. Where God places us. And this summer, He showed His love for us once again. He shows it all the time and when our eyes are open, we can see it clearly.