Several years ago I wrote a post entitled “Yes or No?” about the desire God placed in our hearts to move to Nicaragua for a year, and how it seemed completely impossible. A few months before I wrote that post, we felt like God had thrown open various doors to pave the way south. But then the trip seemed stalled, at best, or cancelled, at worst. It certainly wasn’t our plan to make the move in the first place — it was His idea, after all — so why wasn’t it happening? This week, I reread the words I wrote in the early winter of 2012 and instantly recognized the similarities between my feelings then and now. I wrote:
At this point, if you ask us if we are moving [to Nicaragua], we will tell you the chances are probably slim, although it is still our desire to do so. Right now, it seems like God is saying no, or at least not now.
Which means we are again tempted to just quit. It takes a lot of effort to continue walking this path when it seems impossible… [Yet] there are plenty of instances in scripture where God asks someone to walk a certain path and follow it through before He acts (and sometimes even if He doesn’t act). Abraham had to prepare the burnt offering and raise the knife in his hand, over his son, before God stopped him (Genesis 22). Lazarus was dead — for two days — before Jesus finally showed up to heal him (John 11).
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
God seems to prefer stepping in at what we consider to be the very last second, when there is no other way for us to explain it than to look up.
And He did step in to clear the way, and we did move to Nicaragua. Only through obedience did He give us the task of helping the Church care for families adopting children into their lives and their hearts. I just finished three weeks of telling our story in the hopes of raising money to fund the adoption care work God asked (or rather required) us to start in Nicaragua. That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. Everyone keeps asking me, “Well, was your trip successful?” And I tell them I think so… and then I check the numbers again only to find out we’re still at 10% of our monthly goal. Even knowing how far we’ve come, the doubt still creeps in… A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. We’ve had some wonderful — awesome, really! — one-time gifts, and I don’t want to ignore them. They are encouraging, for sure! But I can’t seem to keep my eyes off that monthly amount. We need to raise it in order to move another missionary family into our guesthouse so they can join us in this adoption care service. And only then will we be able to move back to the States and get started on the next phase of this work (which includes encouraging the greater Church body to join this adoption care movement). And it just feels so impossible. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” [This paragraph is supposed to be about how I know God won’t let us “drown,” that He cares deeply for His children and will finish the work He has started in and through us. And that’s what I have been saying publicly, but inside I often still scream, “Dude, you asked us to get on this boat, so why does it feel like we’re drowning?“] Yeah Wendy, why are you so afraid? Because I’m human. And a mess. And often have trouble seeing past my own failures to remember all God has done. But that’s OK because there’s grace for the fact that I’m [still] not there yet.
Dad & I are on a journey paralleling yours it seems. Even though I know that God is directing Dad’s retirement and the sale of our house in MD and subsequent purchase of a house in SC, those shadows of doubt darken the doorstep of my mind every day. I continue to pray for you and your family and your mission as I too pray for us and our challenge. God’s will be done. And may we accept HIS decisions! Love you Wen.
Wendy, I am so grateful that you don’t wait to tell the story when the boat has made it to the other side, and the storm has calmed. Thank you for voicing the cry we all have in the midst of storms–“Why does it feel like we are drowning?”–I am grateful for your words of faith and the emotion of doubt all mingled together. So often the Body only shares with each other the nicely wrapped up version where the emotions are all in the past tense, “but I learned in the end, God had been there all along.” So much more of the story is about those hours during the storm.
You encourage me.
Wendy Willard says
I so wanted to find a way to wrap it all up neatly at the end! But the truth is that I’m not to that point yet… It’s so hard to talk about being a mess. It feels a lot nicer to tell everyone how great it’s going, right? I’m grateful for this blog and those who read it, that I can share how I honestly feel. I hope this blog fosters a community that can look past each others’ hurts and see the beauty within 🙂