His heart overwhelms.

On my flight into Papua New Guinea, it hit me. I don’t know what exactly, but it did. As I looked down onto the clouds, Papua New Guinea soil finally within reach, days of airplanes and airports and sleeping upright behind me, I was overcome with emotion.

It’d be easy to chalk it all up to exhaustion, but my heart was engaging something different – something I couldn’t quite place. It felt as if this trip and this experience was no longer my own, but rather, it is God’s.

Here I was at 30,000 feet, looking down with the sun as my guide, and I sensed emotions not my own. Compassion – for the lost and broken of Papua New Guinea, for the missionaries who have given their lives for these people, for the travelers on my flight soon to land in Port Moresby for I don’t know what. Sadness – for the depravity that leads to hardened hearts, lives pursuing earthly means to fill an emptiness that if only they’d soften – Lord, please, soften their hearts – that emptiness, it belongs to Jesus. Love – intense wondrous love for each of the 7+ billion people in this world, most of whom look nothing like me on the outside but know the same longing for more that we all carry on the inside.

God – He had my heart in His clutch, and all I could do up there above those clouds was let the tears fall down.

As we began the descent into Papua New Guinea’s capital, I sighed heavy releasing it all, leaving me soul cleansed and heart full – with gratitude, humility, grace. I don’t know why it took me so long to get here, this was God’s trip all along, never my own.

Only God knows His intentions, His heart, His plans for this trip. I pray I can stay in the moment, one foot in front of the other, at His pace, in His time.

Lord, give me your heart.

And God said, “I have found David, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Acts 13:22

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

He is beauty.

What a tease, to pass through the continent of Australia. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, only second to the Swiss Alps. One of the reasons I so love what little of the country I observed is because it is relatively uninhabited. In terms of land mass, it’s only 25% smaller than the United States, and yet it is over 90% less populated. And it’s an island. Imagine ocean for days, lush green mountainous landscapes, the living breathing Great Barrier Reef, and FEW people (relatively speaking). It’s breathtaking – literally. Countless times the majestic view caused me to gasp, my eyes filling with tears. It’s the countryside as it has been since its creation. The pocket of Australia’s shore I experienced was gorgeously peaceful because of the threat of jellyfish and crocodiles. And though I only engaged the reef by plane, the intensity and dimension of its blues and greens clutched my soul. I was embraced by royalty and I never wanted her to let go.

Albeit brief, the time I spent in and flying through Australia churned my entire being as I remained in awe of God’s beauty. I realized the depths of Australia’s glory as I watched one helicopter after another leave the nearby lagoon, allowing people to experience waterfalls tucked away in the mountainside and miles of magnificent Barrier Reef. The country’s wondrous waters, undeveloped green mountainsides, and sparse population give a rare shot into God’s initial creation, with little mucked up by humanity.

It’s beauty abounding. Humbling, wondrous beauty.

What a gorgeous God.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11

He delights.

I’ve flown in and out of LAX all my life, and I always expect to step off the plane, through the gate, and into a world of celebrities and their beautiful doppelgängers. But instead I am dumped into a shock zone of mass chaos sardine-packed with foreign dialects and their respective odors. This time I walked through the airport thankful to have received travel vaccines, not because of the threat of disease in Papua New Guinea, but because I am certain that using the restroom in LAX poses an equal threat.

Nonetheless, the vertigo-inducing energy quickly softens as I step out into the City of Angels, the scent of the Pacific subtly reminding my soul, “This is your first home.”

I love LA.

It’s far less glamorous than I ever imagine, and yet in so many ways, it is far more. The dichotomy fascinates this suburban-raised girl, LA’s homeless stack tents down the beach from multi-million dollar ocean front homes. The record-setting drought has forced an emergence of turf grass and succulent landscapes. Traffic mocks the rat race of the city while the ocean breeze compliments the chill of the SoCal vibe. Today I encountered new discoveries – a flock of wild parrots, the Venetian-style canals of Marina Del Ray, grandiose construction projects built into the cliffs of LAs mountainside. All the while engaging the comfort of the home I remember – an oceanside fragrance distinct to its beaches, the rainbow of individuality that is its people, the loving sincerity of family.

This brief yet refreshing pitstop left me basking in the ways He delights in us. His creation bold. His intimacy significant. His love forever-reaching. The timing of my Los Angeles to Sydney connection was determined by the availability of fights, however I now know that the opportunity to spend a few hours in LA was part of His forever narrative, “Ali, I delight in you.”

As I sit at the gate preparing to board my next flight, the melody of Aussie accents filling the air, I swell with gratitude for God’s delight in this California-gone-country girl. What a gift of grace – His overwhelming delight – to carry with me on my travels.

He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory. Psalm 149:4