Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DOORS, PATHS, and ROLLER COASTERS

As I write this post, I don't even know if I'll publish it. I'm just feeling so overwhelmed and mixed up right now. I need to process and us extroverted people types like to talk it out. Since that's not an option right now, writing is another viable option. I, of course, need to do lots of talking to the Lord and listening. And I'd really appreciate you talking to the Lord about me and mine, too.




See, just a few months ago, we thought we knew what our life in Swaziland would be looking like a year from now. But then some doors were shut and we were left not knowing anything other than that God's called us to go live there, we're called to love orphans, and we're called to do it as a family. Jim is gifted and called to be a teacher and has a special heart for the fatherless so he not only wants to reach those fatherless boys but also strengthen the fathers and help restore families. He will be a spiritual father for many. I'm called to be a mother, not just to my biological children but many others as well, and someone who helps others discover their God-given dreams and then helps them follow those dreams.

Having those doors shut caused us as a family to really press in and pray about what we felt like the ministry God was calling us to should look like. We know it will be a ministry that involves all the elements listed above. But the particulars, the where and the how and the who, we still don't know. And today, an interesting element got thrown into the mix that gives us one more thing to consider.

I can't go into what that "one mroe thing" is at this point, but I'll be honest and tell you that it has me really confused.

I know, I know.

GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION.

Neither has He given me a spirit of fear.

But people and situations sure can confuse me and I can surely confuse myself.

I can also let myself get scared. Get scared of missing God's best. Get scared that I'll let people down. Get scared that I'll not hear what God is trying to tell me.

That's with my flesh.

With my faith and with the part of my mind that I have allowed the Lord to transform, I know that He has promised that He will work all things for our good and His glory.

I know that He is the one calling us to Swaziland and He has plans that are good for us and for those He wants us to minister and He is big enough and loud enough to make sure we hear His voice.

I know that in the past, I've walked through valleys of confusion and anxiety. He's always managed to get me through those foggy times and set my feet on the right path. He did it then, He can do it now.

Twenty five years ago, I strongly felt the call to Swaziland as a single missionary straight out of college, but my candidate weekend went terribly and it looked like I would not be accepted to go. I remember crying and crying and crying because I did not understand how someone could tell me I wasn't going to be accepted as a Journeyman missionary when God had spoken more clearly about that being His will than I'd ever heard Him speak about anything else in my life, to be honest, I've never heard that strongly or clearly since. A couple of weeks later, I received a letter telling me that I'd been accepted and was offered my first choice position, the Swaziland assignment.

Then just a few years ago, I returned to Swaziland and fell more deeply in love with that nation. My heart was absolutely broken and I wanted to be back there loving those precious little ones with a longing that was so deep it hurt. At that point, my husband had no intention at all of moving to Africa. Swaziland was only on his radar as somewhere that I had lived a long, long time ago. I remember the day that God told me to quit talking about Swaziland to Jim because Jim was convinced that I loved Swaziland more than I loved him. He was struggling with intense depression at the time and the depression did not allow him to see things accurately. I cried (yes, I can be a crier) and said "but Lord, if I quit talking about it, I'll never get to go to Swaziland again" and I think I said things like "how will I get money for the orphans?" and God told me to be quiet anyway and show my husband that he was my first priority. I obeyed. I told my husband I would quit talking about Swaziland and that I loved him more than I loved Swaziland. Just a couple of days later, he walked in the kitchen where I was standing in the same place I had been standing when God told me to quit talking about Swaziland and trust Him, and he told me that he realized he could retire in a few years and we could possibly "move to Swaziland". Well, as you know, a couple of years later, Jim and I both traveled to Africa and Jim sensed God's strong call to the nation of my heart.

Over and over again, I find myself in places where I have no idea how things are going to work out. And over and over again, God proves Himself faithful to complete His good work in me and bring His will to pass.

I have to keep clinging to that. I don't have to know all the answers right now. I don't have to see how it is all going to work out. I don't have to worry that if we don't do a certain ministry then no one else will do it. I just have to keep saying "yes" to God. Keep saying "I will go and do whatever You want me to do when You tell me to do it" and then trust and step as He leads.

About three years ago, I remember Amy and David Lancaster, our leaders here at We Will Go, telling us when we were seeking God's will about Swaziland that we should not worry that we wouldn't hear and know God's will. They said that God is a good Father. He wants His children to obey Him so why wouldn't He tell us what He wanted us to do?

When it is put that way, it seems pretty obvious, doesn't it?

The problem is, we want the answer immediately. Most of us aren't really good with the waiting and seeking process. Most of us Americans are planners and we want to get all our little ducks in a row. We want to know when and how and where and what and we want to know it yesterday.

But that's just not how God works much of the time. There are times when He lays out a long range plan with lots of the details already worked out. But a lot of the time, following God is like a fancy, big park,roller coaster. I can remember riding Space Mountain at Disney World and the scariest part for me was that it was inside a huge structure and it was kept mostly dark inside. I could maybe see part of the next loop or dip ahead of me, but when I was in the darkest parts, I didn't know what was going to be waiting for me up ahead. I also didn't like the safety belt and safety bar situation. On other roller coasters, I'd been snuggly belted in and even had a secure bar across my waist. In Space Mountain, I was almost reclining and neither the belt nor the bar had me snuggly held in place. I could move around a good bit and it often felt like I was going to fly right out of the car. It was a very insecure feeling. I had to hold on for dear life and hope that with all the dips and curves and even going upside down  (if I'm remembering correctly), that I'd arrive alive at the end, just where I was supposed to be. I'll be honest, even though I made it safely to the end, I didn't ride that one again. I can remember that I rode the mine ride roller coaster over and over again. Even though it was just as curvy and loopy as Space Mountain, I felt more secure. My belt and bar was tight and I could see what was about to happen to me. Space Mountain was just too scary because it was too much of the unknown and "loose".

See, it is really easy for me to say that I trust God and I want to follow Him when I can see where He's taking me and it is down paths that I understand. When I have a map. When I feel like I am secure and safe and maybe even a bit in control.

But it is a whole different story when at this point, I have absolutely know idea what He's up to and all the lights have been turned off. Not only have the lights been turned off, but I'm being sent on part of this journey without my husband there to help me figure it out.

Wait, that's not really true.

Yes, I am flying to Swaziland next week with Anna, Betsie, and my friend Rhonda while my husband stays here with the other kids.

Yes, at this point, I have no idea where we will be living, what city or town we'll be living in, what ministry site or organization we'll be working with, etc. etc.

Yes, I am expected to talk to realtors when I don't even know where to tell them we're looking at living.

Yes, I am expected to meet with a whole lot of people who will be showing me places that need us to minister but I won't be able to tell them "yes" or "no".

Yes, I am given the responsibility to take all that information in and what I've perceived and then bring it back to the rest of the family.

BUT...even though I don't know at this point His will, the lights really haven't been turned off completely. Actually, they're not out at all. God sees things perfectly clear. It is not confusing or overwhelming even one bit for Him. He sees next year as easily as he sees last year and a hundred years ago and a hundred years from now. He sees the whole story. He's just waiting in His perfect timing to tell us the next line or chapter in this story.

And another thing. I am not alone. Not only has He promised me a counselor in the form of the Holy Spirit, but He's given me others along this path to help me decipher the road signs and map. He's sending me with Anna, Betsie, and my friend Rhonda next week. He's given me an amazing husband and five other children. Jim is very wise and God gives Him so much down-to-earth insight.  He's also blessed us with personalities that balance each other out and help us to see situations from various angles and then come to a decision together. He's blessed us with an incredible spiritual family here at We Will Go and others in our lives who love us and the Lord and fully support our call, including our local church's leadership and many other friends.

When the time is right, God will provide the lights that we need to see His chosen path for our lives in Swaziland. He will put the sign posts up written in ways that we can understand. He'll bring unity to our family as we step toward the path that is His will. And those we trust will cheer us on as they support us in our journey.

Those things I must cling to. Right now, the safety harness and bar feel very loose. The ride seems out of control as it barrels along. My eyes go from being squeezed tight shut to being wide open and overwhelmed by what I see.

But whether I look at this life as a roller coaster or a trail or even doors, He is in control. He is good. He is bigger than it all. He is the creator of this big ole world and all who inhabit it. And He will keep us going where we need to be going because He loves us and He knows we, even in our inadequate manner, love Him.

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Obviously, I did choose to share this post. It really helped me to calm down as I reminded myself of past times He has come through for us and reminded myself of who God is. Would you please pray for us? Pray that I will trust Him and pray that we will hear from Him at just the right time. We really and truly need you. You are part of His provision. Thanks!

2 comments:

Michele Case said...

Continuing to pray. It really helps to know this, the specific areas in which you needto be lifted up to our Father.

Scarlett said...

I'm so glad you wrote this out AND shared it here! I can relate to so much of what you wrote, the not knowing, not seeing, waiting, wondering, worrying (unfortunately) and also the trusting, knowing Him, knowing He sees and knows and will not keep silent when I need to hear Him.

I loved Space Mountain, but it is "safer" when it's a ride at Disney World and not real life!

You are seeking and surrendered and you will not miss Him, sweet friend!

I am praying and will make a point to pray every day while you are on your trip. Don't worry about a schedule or agenda for your trip (so un-American, eh?), but He will speak to you when you need to know. I believe that with all my heart.

BIG hugs!!!