[At the risk of going melodramatic, if you’d like to know the inexpressible feelings of my soul while I was writing this, listen to this song as you read.]
Thursday morning Abraham and Isaac – their trip of old, the sacrifice, the ram – were the last thing on my mind. The first thing on my mind was the 17 hour flight to the Philippines and how it was a mere four days away. On my way to CROSS training yesterday someone caught me in the hallway and asked to meet with me at 10:25 AM.
That’s how I know that the time was 10:25 when my life took a new turn.
It’s been no secret that though I have a visa and ticket for a year in the Philippines my heart is called to Europe. That’s where God put it and it is a burden I’ve come to embrace. During the past two months here at headquarters, I’ve learned to be honest. So when I met with someone at 10:25 they asked me how I felt and I was honest. I said:
No, I don’t want to go to the Philippines – even four days before leaving. I’ve never wanted that. But I don’t resent the Philippines. I know a year would mean experience. And it’s not forever; it’s just a year! Maybe God would use that year to provide a teammate to go to Ireland with me. I desperately want obedience in my heart. When I found out Ireland was cancelled there was a week of prayer (mine and others) and fasting, seeking God’s will. Should I go on this year to the Philippines? God was strangely silent on that topic. He gave me visions – literally – and the assurance of Ireland in His time. Since time was pressing for an answer on the Philippines, I took counsel from others and said yes. I asked God to stop me if He didn’t want me to go. I don’t want to go to the Philippines and I don’t feel called there in any capacity. But if He wants me there? I’ll go. I will wake up every morning and pray for a good attitude. And a cheerful spirit that will enjoy each day.
After my 10:20 meeting I knew I had to have another meeting, soon. Lauren, who was home for a few weeks for a wedding and to fly to the Philippines with me, came and found me first. We talked about the first meeting. We knew we had to have yet another meeting with two other people.
From the first week of CROSS training it’s been clear, from missionaries young and old, missionaries experienced and new, that a year is never just a year and 10 months are never just 10 months. They are a whole year. A whole 10 months. In other words: they matter. What matters most of all is knowing the peace of God in following His will. Lauren told me how her journey to the Philippines began with hesitation too. But before she left God gave her complete confirmation on going! She’s spent two months there and already had foggy days. During those days, she said, she could always lean on that confirmed call.
At 1 PM my life REALLY took a turn.
The knife in Abraham’s fingers must have felt so ugly. Its weight must have crushed the heart from his movements. But his soul must have been sure. El Roi, God who sees, I want to believe you see this. I’m choosing to believe you see all of this. I’m giving it to you but GOD! Don’t you see? God…this is my heart and all that really matters. El Roi. You see. The altar itself must have shrank and closed its’ eyes. The mountain must have searched for a place to hide.
Clearly there’s only a part of this that can truly compare with my situation. I’m not a mom so I don’t know how it would feel to sacrifice my own son; I do know what it’s like to hand over the dream that has been built into me since I was seven. I know what it is like to offer myself up to God and I know I wouldn’t have on my natural strength of mind, heart, soul, body. The Holy Spirit is gifted to followers of Jesus Christ not as a metaphor, but as a reality. I have the free will to choose for myself, of course – I was never forced to say, “OK God, I’ll go to the Philippines. Fine! I don’t have a choice anyway.” No, I wanted to make that choice to honor and obey the one I love. The Holy Spirit gave me the strength to do that, and the peace to know God is faithful, even when I’m unsure or think I’m alone.
1 PM is when Lauren and I met with our director and our soon-to-be-director. Relaying the whole conversation would be long and unnecessary, so here’s where I’ll say I’m grateful in so many ways for Lauren’s heart for my heart. We told our leadership what was on our hearts.
And I’m not going to the Philippines.
Wow! What can you even say to that? I don’t know what to say and I was in on the whole thing!
It comes down to everything I wrote about above…it comes down to, I think, perhaps, the King’s ways being greater than my ways. Maybe it comes down to the ram caught in the bush on Mt. Moriah. Or a thousand things I cannot understand. I’m so grateful that everyone in HOPE61 is at peace about this. Our director, our future director, Lauren, me, other leadership at OMS. I took responsibility for the way I let myself feel guilty and responsible for everyone else…instead of accepting that God is responsible, not me. During our conversation I held nothing back from them or from God, so we’re just left with understanding – or at least clear airwaves for communication.
So what am I doing now? There were a few options discussed, but I won’t confuse you by throwing them in with all this! Monday morning some decisions will be made…I’m pretty excited about them & I know you will be, too. Just to be clear, I will not be leaving OMS or HOPE61.
Please keep praying for me as I pray for you. I want to get better at communication with you, too, and I think this honest conversation with HOPE61 leadership will help me to give that to you as well.
I know this may be confusing, upsetting, or frustrating to some of you. If it is, please PLEASE call or email me. I want to talk about this with you! I’m excited that our director said she had peace about this, that our almost-director said he’s glad for this, and that Lauren said she feels like a weight has been lifted from her, too, and I want to help you to understand anything that confuses you.