Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.
I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time, I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.
I am really going against everything inside of me and writing a Five Minute Friday post on a Monday. Such is my life at the moment, it seems. Nothing happening quite on schedule, but I am coming to grips with this new norm. Deep breaths…
The Bible is truth. God is holy. There’s no one like Him. Jesus was the only perfect man.
At the beginning of our church planting work, we are teaching simple truths in simple language. Rather, I am mostly listening and learning right along with new believers, some returning to the faith, and others who are still seeking as my husband does all the studying and teaching. I have so enjoyed hearing the truth of God’s Word in very basic, digestible forms. This man of mine truly is brilliant at breaking down the stories included in the pages of the Old Book and making them relevant to this time in this culture that is still new and unusual to us.
Nothing is necessarily ground breaking or world changing in and of itself, or at least, it wouldn’t seem to be. BUT things are changing. Slowly, hearts are softening. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the evidence of truth touching hearts and changing minds that had long been made up towards another end. I get to watch this. I get to be involved in it! But mostly, I just stand back.
Maybe it’s the recurring question when I encounter someone here in America that wasn’t expecting to see me wandering the aisles of Walmart or the halls of my home church. “When are you going back?” And part of me, though in no way does this make any sense, is surprised at the inquiry. I think, didn’t I just get here?
I’m constantly recounting memories made in Kathmandu and sharing them with the lovely people who have supported us prayerfully and financially during our absence. When I’m not looking back, I am speaking of future plans and hopeful ambitions. They are wished in the silent, stirred places of the soul that dream big and hope only in the mighty hands of Jesus to bring any of it to pass.
Glancing back and looking forward, I see all the great things the Lord has done and that I trust Him to do. But I also sense there’s something I’m missing in the now as I break my neck to glimpse the past and prayerfully gaze into the future.
In the now…My babies need me in the whiplash of cultural transition. It seems like typical nursery tantrums but I know it’s so much more. In the now… I have friends who have gone through the unimaginable. Their hugs are tighter and their eyes more misty. I’ve been gone so long and missed so much. I haven’t been there for them, but I’m here now. In the now… The pieces that were broken in our pulling away can be mended by purposeful presence. In the now… are endless opportunities for ministry during a season where many look for the hope of this world. In the now…. my daughter endlessly questions me about this holy thing, baby Jesus. What better time to tell her the greatest story ever told! Again and again and again.
In the now.…Jesus lives inside of me. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Just like those times I’ve seen Him work on the other side of oceans, He wants to work in and through me today. He has special blessings in store for the now. But when I’m looking forward and backward and all around at any place or time but the here and now, I miss them.
I am well-acquainted with craving. When I was living overseas, I found myself craving the most random things. I craved turkey sandwiches, sweet potatoes, and sour candy. I also craved convenience and comforts of home. Even more, I found myself craving connection with other believers and a more intimate relationship with Jesus as the loneliness in my heart grew and grew. I was surrounded by unbelievers and understood little of the spiritual offerings at church in my second language. I realized that I had to fill myself with God’s word and busy myself with His work. Only then would the intense longing, the craving subside.
Back here on American soil, I have access to all the things I’ve craved for the last two years. What’s surprising to me is that nothing is as good as my memory made it. Nothing quite satisfies. Along with this dissatisfaction with fulfilled cravings, I sense a frustration upon seeing the culture of craving around me. Of course, this is amplified in the holiday season as we all create wish lists and seek to find the one perfect things our loved ones lack to stick in an overstuffed stocking. I try to remember this. Maybe this isn’t an accurate representation of America. But maybe it is. And maybe it’s also an accurate representation of my heart. Whatever culture I live within, I take my heart with me. And my heart is filled with longing, with craving.
I was created to crave Jesus. I grow and thrive in communion with Him, feasting on His word. I don’t want to suppress my appetite for the things of God by filling myself with the sweet and sugary tastes of this world. They satisfy my tongue but starve my spirit. This focused feasting might not change the local culture, but it will change me. That’s a good place to start.
“We have established an after-dinner routine that I quite enjoy. Usually, we are in such a hurry to get to it, we leave the dirty plates on the table and run off to tie shoes and zip jackets. The kids wait on the porch or rush the front gate to start down the hill on our family adventure. The crisp air and view of the mountains takes my breath away in the best of ways.
I gaze at my children whose hands are grasped together and grins are adorned with splattered spaghetti sauce. In our haste to start our stroll, I had forgotten to clean them up. I smile sheepishly at the aunties we pass along the way who signal their disapproval. Nothing could rob me of the joy of this moment.
Except maybe when the kids’ smiles cease to join us on our walk. When their feet drag and the pitch of whiny voices reaches as high as the mountain peaks. On these days, we cut the length by a lap and hope for a better run the next time. I remember all the peaceful and wonderful moments we’ve had along these cracked roads and trust we will steal a few more amidst the hurriedness of busy ministry life. I wonder when they’ll start wiping their own faces and racing ahead of us instead of walking hand-in-hand at parents’ pace.
The good and the bad days. The long walks and the short ones. These days, precious and few, were made to be enjoyed. Sometimes, we just have to try harder than others.”
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).