I was planning on sharing all the little details of God’s goodness today. I was going to tell you that I was going to Uganda in a matter of days and the exciting things God is doing over there and how He’s using social media to do it.
I’ve been so anxiously excited to tell you that during my morning Quiet Time few months ago, I told the Lord that I really (reeeeeally) wanted to go to Uganda but that I wanted it to be a trip He planned out, and I did not. I asked that it come to me and if and when it did, it be obvious that He was in the invitation.
As I wrapped up my prayer time with Him and walked upstairs and toward my shower, I opened up my email for the first time that morning to find an invitation. An invitation to Uganda.
I squealed out loud and ran over to Ben, ‘bout toppling over him as he read, still cozy beneath the sheets of our bed. Sharing with him, he grinned. “God’s fun”, he said.
God IS fun! He answered my prayer before I’d even finished praying! I wish He always answered this quickly, I giggled while snuggling into my sweet husband.
The purpose of the trip was perfect and aligned so well with my heart: Orphan Prevention. My heart aches knowing that Ezekiel really shouldn’t be my son. He should still be in Ethiopia with his bio mama…the reason he’s not is because she couldn’t afford to feed him and keep him safe. No mother should ever be posed with that decision. EVER.
This mission aligned with my heart, the sponsorship of families, giving micro loans, education and health, all with the intention of keeping families together...and children out of orphanages. The other ladies also invited are women I look up to and was excited to meet in real life, not simply over Instagram feeds.
But then this weekend, we all received notice the trip has been cancelled. I have such an ache in my heart typing those words:
Exhale. No, Lord.
For reasons out of their control, they don’t ethically feel they can ask us to support their ministry at this time. It’s a time of turmoil for them and I know my sadness is only a pinprick of theirs.
Why lead us all down this path to only have it halted? A big, massive red Stop Sign now stands where we were about to walk, leaving us stunned.
While doing my reading for this week’s study on 1 Samuel, my heart skipped a beat as I read Chapter 29.
Living in a place out of Saul’s grasp, David and his men still dwelt in the land of the Philistines, in the country town of Ziklag, which King Achish has given them. As the king goes into war against Saul and the Israelites, David goes with them to fight.
Before the battle begins though, Achish sends David back home.
And David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”
And Achish answered David and said, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ (1 Samuel 29:8-9)
As I read, I felt as if Christ was whispering the same thing into my heart.
“You shall not come with us in this battle. There will be times of combat I ask you to join, but this is not one of them. I have other plans for you. Just trust Me.”
The news came at the end of the hardest week we’ve had as a family in about three years. No exaggeration on that one. We had some serious stuff going on over here and I was already exhausted…body, soul, mind.
Of course I’m sad for this amazing organization and what it means for their family sponsorship program that we’re not going and spreading their story.
But what is it that has me so over-the-top devastated and sorrowful about this change in plan?
For one, I love Africa. As in massively L.O.V.E. - I feel close to God there. He's doing big things and His joy is evident and tangible in the lives of so many that have so little.
I knew I had to dig deeper than that though so I’ve been doing a lot of praying as I grasp for the answer. I think the foundation of it swings back around to something I’ve been dealing with lately: the feeling of never being enough. I know I am enough because Christ is in me. I know perfection and righteousness isn’t achieved but given as a gift by our Heavenly Father. I get that I need to step out of the darkness and into the light. Yes. I know all these things.
But I’ve still been feeling small lately. Insignificant.
I wanted to do something bigger than me. Something with big purpose in a land that is exciting and new to me. I wanted to travel, without my own little ones grabbing at me and asking for something every five minutes. This thing was mine. Not mine as Teresa the mom or Teresa the wife.
This was mine as Teresa the one who God uses to do big, exciting things. And I really liked that idea.
I'm not saying "Mine!" like a two-year old unable to share, nor do I say it like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings as he hisses, "My preeeeecious". I really don't think I'm saying it in a protectively selfish way...but more along the lines of God reminding me that even little 'ole me...the mom of six kids who lives in the cusp of suburbia can still be used all the way across the world and can make global impact.
And if ordinary me can be used, He can use ordinary you.
I have big dreams that could only have been given to me from the Lord, and yet here I am…years later…and they’re still unfulfilled. I’m a dreamer and have notes upon notes typed into my phone with business ideas, books I’d love to write, purposeful places I’d love to travel, things I’d love to help make happen.
I’m not sitting on my hands, I promise I’m not. I don’t expect God to make a general habit of dropping things into my lap like He seemed to with this Uganda trip. I’m working, writing, connecting, praying, and laying foundations.
And yet here I still wait. Waiting well is difficult, though I’ve done enough studying of the Bible to know that each time God asked an average, ordinary person to do something…there was always a period of wait. Character building time. Time of trusting Him and his glorious plan.
Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac to be born.
Samuel anointed young David over a decade before he was crowned king.
Saul, turned Paul also waited over a decade between his conversion until setting out on his first missionary journey.
Marilyn Monroe once said that, “Sometimes good things need to fall apart so better things can fall together” and I think she’s right.
I can't embrace something new if I'm clinging to something old.
Sometimes a good plan needs to crumble to make space for something better. Even if it's painful as it collapses within my grasp, I need to let it go. I need to be able to open my hands in humble surrender to Him, not angrily grasping pieces tightly. It's already severed, I need to just release it...and release it all, not hiding bits and pieces in my pockets with the hope of repairing it.
By letting the fragments of the earlier plans drop to the floor and stand before God with hands empty, wide, and open, I'm showing that I'm ready for Him to fill them instead with something even better than the first thing.
Who knows how long I’ll wait. Maybe weeks. Perhaps months or years.
We see our lives like the backside of threaded embroidery. From the back of a colorful canvas of needlepoint, it looks all messy and confusing. Flipped to the front though, we can see how things connect, creating beautiful patterns. From the right perspective, all the messiness in the back makes sense.
We don’t often have eyes to see our current circumstances from this front viewpoint, but Christ does. Things happen (or don’t happen) that doesn’t make sense to us. Things seem chaotic, random, and disjointed. But not to God. He’s got this, it’s already handled. There’s meaning and a reason behind it all.
And today, as I sit here...I'm sticking my flag in that. I'm claiming Him and His goodness as I trust His great plan. And though I don't always understand the "why" behind things, I still think God is fun (You really, are God) and have confidence that He will bring more overwhelmingly exhilarating things my way.
I asked him years ago to "use me" and "send me"...who am I to get in His way when I've already given Him permission.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
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