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.