Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Curve in the Road

In my first blog entry I wrote the following:

This is "the ride of a lifetime." I know that there are many ups and downs to come, but I am already discovering that walking this close to God brings with it more joy, peace, excitement, and love for people than one can imagine. Whatever the IMB decides, I pray that I grab every moment of the journey and spend it right up close to Christ! No longer will I be satisfied with just planning for people to share the love of Christ, I will participate.

It is easier to say these things when the journey is going your way than when the journey reaches a curve in the road. But we have decided we will not trade in the calling of God for short term comfort. The IMB consultant called last week and shared that the team is recommending we complete several steps before moving on in the process. Their timeline is three years, but we are waiting to see what God has planned. Honestly, the answer was hard to hear. We yelled at God, cried, questioned, prayed, talked, and experienced every emotion possible. We know without a doubt that God has called us to missions and we believe that we will be on the mission field. If God says it is in three years, we are willing to wait and prepare as we wait. If God says it is to be tomorrow, we believe He is big enough to work through all the hurdles that are ahead of us.

I read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers every day. Here is what he wrote for yesterday:

"Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in "the shadow of His hand" (Isaiah 49:2). The saint's duty is to be still and listen. There is a "darkness" that comes from too much light-that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God's displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11 ).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? "I am Almighty God . . ."— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God."

The answer from the IMB was darkness for us. But we have learned to go beyond all confidence in ourselves and other people and trust totally in God. What God has planned for our lives will happen, maybe not according to our time line, but according to his perfect will.

Although the answer hurt. The answer was disappointing. The answer hurt our pride. The answer shocked us. The answer did nothing to God's plan. The answer did not change God's character. We have chosen to continue to stand confident in his will.

As for the logistics to the answer of the IMB we have some hurdles we must work through.

1) The house must sell. Today's economy is not the best one to be selling a house in, but we know that God's hand is all over it. Want proof? Schools were cancelled today due to snow, the roads were yucky, and yes, we showed the house today! Please pray that the house will sell in God's timing and where we are to live until we go to the mission field will be obvious. When the house sells we will have to make some big decisions, especially regarding Hannah's education. She has asked for a change in schooling for next year and finances and location of our next home will be an important factor in how we approach that situation.

2) The IMB felt that Scott's job skills and education needed to be addressed. He has applied to Liberty University to begin working on a seminary degree. We do not know if he needs an entire degree or just a certain number of hours, but he hopes to begin his first class in March. Pray for him as he undertakes a task that he thinks is bigger than anything he has tried before. He is nervous about the paper writing that will come with such a degree. I am nervous about being the supportive wife as I pick up extra tasks so that he can devote time to studies.

3) We still believe we are called to Ukraine. Ukraine's political situation is tenuous and we know that things could change in an instant. We will begin to prepare for life there now, including beginning to work on the language. Scott is good at learning languages, I was told on my last trip that I should never go anywhere without a translator. Cindy will be going to Ukraine in May. Pray for the people she meets as she tries out the few words she will have learned before then.

We thank you for all your prayers and support as we travel this journey. The journey isn't over and we know there are many more curves in the roads ahead, but we know that God will be faithful. Pray that we keep our eyes focused on Him and that we do not let disappointment keep us from absolute obedience.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Your Greatest Confidant

OK - I like people. I like being around people. I like talking to people. I like to have people at my house. I find a quiet car very difficult to deal with. I want to be on the phone withe someone (you should see my cell phone bill) or have someone talking to me. I don't often listen to music while traveling, but I love talk radio and recorded books. It's almost like having someone to talk to. I usually call Scott while I am driving to and from work just so that he can talk to me while I drive. My own personal entertainment. (anytime you wanna talk - just call while I'm in the car - Scott would appreciate the repreive) When things are going great I want to talk to someone, when things are going really bad I want to talk to someone. I was a pretty good kid growing up, but there were a few times I got in trouble (my parents and sister may say more than a few). I still vividly remember in the first grade having tape put on my desk as a threat if I didn't stop talking.

Monday, I had a new experience. I couldn't talk to anyone. Not because no one was around or because no one wanted to talk, but because I realized the only one I could talk to was God. We had our "interview" with the IMB. This was a chance for an IMB representative to get to know us face to face and for us to ask questions. We went into this interview confident we were following God's lead and that we were going to walk away encouraged and excited. It didn't go that way. We were reminded of the seriousness of this process and the changes it was going to require. We were asked a lot of questions. Hurdles were laid out for us, not successes. And then we were told to wait. Whether we move on in this process was put in the hands of the IMB team and we were told that we would hear sometime next week.

We left with such raw emotion that Scott and I couldn't even really talk to each other. I knew there were people wanting to hear how it went, but I couldn't talk to them. For one of the first times in my life I didn't want to talk, at least not to people. I needed to talk to God. It's been almost three days and I have spent a lot of time in converstion with God, two way conversation. He called me into this journey and He is still walking it with me.

He has asked the question - are you willing to walk what you say you believe? Do you believe with more than words that I (God) am greater than any man, organization, or hurdle? Do you believe that I will have my way or do you believe that there are hurdles that are bigger than me? Do you really believe that all things works for the good of those who believe or just some things?

We have no more of an idea today than Monday what will happen next week. This may be the end of this journey, this may be a slow down period, or this may be just a time that God wanted to see who we would turn to when things got rough. Only God knows. But I do know, that through these last three days I have learned that there is no greater friend than God. I know that at those times when you can't describe what you feel or put words to your thoughts, God knows. I know that there is value in silence, because you can hear a lot more when you are quiet than talking. I know that I do believe that God is good and all powerful. I know that God will see us through to accomplish his will, regardless of how we think it may look.

So now we wait. We will wait until next week and see what turns this journey may take. But we will wait knowing that God is trustworthy and caring. He has not taken us this far to leave us. Do we really believe that?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

That loud "CLICK"... just heard was the roller coaster just before it lets go at the top of the hill. Sigh.

We had our interview with our consultant today. Cindy and Hannah and I had a little sit down with the IMB representative to talk about our application and the process. The gentleman was extremely nice, professional... etc. I just didn't come away from the meeting with a warm, fuzzy feeling about our chances. He expressed some reservations about several different areas. He didn't tell us "Go away...don't bother me." The IMB feels a great responsibility to not place families into a ruinous situation.

I had really been blessed with God's peace prior to the meeting. I thought I was OK with whatever His will is for my life. Then I realized I was OK with God's will when it coincided with my own. Well, isn't this a fine mess I find myself in?

I really want to be in the middle of God's plan for my life, but I have my own wants and desires too. It is this situation that leads to willful sin. I need to want Gods will for my life more than I want my own desires. I'm working on it. Really, I am. This internal monologue is progress. I do pretty well for an hour or so, then I throw a tantrum hoping God will give in just to make me shut up and go away! (I know God doesn't work like that. He's a much better father. And I won't believe you parents reading this if you say you've never done it!!)

I wrote this verse down on a piece of paper this morning and stuck it in my pocket so that I could keep reading it today:

"For I know the plans I have for you." declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I guess the the whole issue boils down to this: Do I believe what He says? Do I really trust that God means me well and has my prosperity in mind? I believed it this morning. Nothing about God changed. I really do believe that, but I want what I want as well.

I'm sure the solution involves me giving in. I'll be working on that for the next little while.