Its been a long time coming, this crazy dream of mine to haul my husband and my kids to some far off land to bring the hope of Jesus to the nations. A dream that started before I even had the husband or the kids. A dream that burned and wouldn’t go away no matter how impossible it seemed or how much I tried to ignore it. And now it’s here and coming true. In five days, Jon and I and our kids along with three other families will travel across the world to Cebu, Philippines. For seven weeks we will have the privilege of serving this island…a spot picked as one of the top ten island destinations in the world by travel magazines yet also a spot where poverty and need mix with wealth and privilege to make a climate ripe for child trafficking. Here we will go to bring the gospel wherever and however we can…into the slums, into the schools, into the prisons and hospitals. We will be teaching a mothers Bible study and playing with the kids in the streets, helping to rebuild a typhoon damaged village and bringing help and encouragement to long-term missionaries. I am excited and scared, filled with anticipation and frightened by the unknown, feeling totally out of my comfort zone yet also totally ready…all at the same time. Once again I know I have a choice. I can look at the heat, the bugs, the strange food, the language barriers, the possibility of my kids having melt-downs in the middle of ministry, the challenges of living in very close community with others and on and on and be paralyzed with fear. Or I can look at the One who calls me, the One who heals the sick and shows mercy to those in need. He is already there ahead orchestrating my steps, planning my pathway, whispering words and vision into my heart. His plans are so much bigger than the things that might seem difficult to me. When I keep my eyes on Him, all the little stuff shrinks into insignificance…the way it’s supposed to be… and my heart is filled with faith and courage and determination.
As we prepare to head off, it also means this short season in Kona is coming to an end. It’s been so, so good and it’s been so, so hard. We came here in such a searching place, in obedience to God’s word to us to come to Hawaii with no strings. So we let go of our past life, all of the things that were the sum of us for the past thirteen years. It’s hard to explain what that feels like. Different than what I thought. Not so much free but more like free-falling. You don’t really think that you find your identity in your job or business or home or friends or stuff until suddenly you let it all go and then feel like you aren’t sure what or who you are. We’ve left what’s behind and don’t know what’s ahead so we are left in this in between place. It’s strange and unfamiliar. These last three months have been a time of rediscovering where our true identity is…in Christ alone. He has been setting our feet firmly in His Word, and we are finding Him to be solid, steady ground. In the beginning of this journey, I wrote about how God was showing me that His work in my kids starts in their hearts. If I want Him to work, I have to let Him in. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t just for my kids, it was for me. This season has been all about letting Him get to my heart, letting Him take my safety nets and cover-ups, stepping out in spite of my fears. And guess what? As I’ve walked forward into deeper water, I’m not sinking! I’m finding Him safe and secure beneath my feet.
I still don’t know what’s ahead for us, but God sure has given us a lot of promises…promises to take care of us, promises to bring the right opportunities when we need them, promises that He has a plan even if we don’t see it. When we left Montana, I felt like God was going to drastically change my life forever, make it look more like the missionary dreams I had as a girl. Maybe He still will. But maybe He won’t. And that’s okay with me. Before we came, I think I had placed the “mission field” as kind of an idol…thinking that this long-held dream would somehow fulfill me and make me happy. But more and more what I’m discovering is that Jesus alone is what fulfills me and makes me happy. He is what I want. When I’m filled up with Him then whatever I do, wherever He calls us, whether in ministry or business or motherhood or missions, in some foreign place or right back where we started, my life will bear fruit and will be filled with purpose. As I’ve been on this journey, I’m realizing just how much God has always been working in the secret places of my heart even when I thought I was just wasting my life in Montana. God is showing me now that He doesn’t waste anything. So as I walk forward, first to outreach in the Philippines then on to our next thing – unknown to us but totally planned out by God- I can rest. I can trust. I can look up.