I wasn’t sure how I would feel or which direction to turn when this day finally came. Life has been culminating to this day for months, even years now. God’s hand has been clearly seen and He has been orchestrating all the events leading here, but still it is not what we were originally hoping for or envisioning at this point. Thankfully God’s ways are higher than our ways! If we had received all the things we wanted, so much more would have been missed. Literally countless precious people would not have received the blessings, help, guidance, and encouragement they needed through God’s people here.
The Big News
After much prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and direction, and seeking the counsel of others, our family has been directed to take a medical leave of absence from our full time work in the ministry. As missionaries, we are sent out by and report to our Sending Church. After examining and seeing first-hand:
(1) the magnitude of the job of leading a church planting effort without the support of a full core team
(2) the added and ongoing affects on our entire family of my now 4-1/2 year battle with cancer,
our Sending Church has called for us to begin a sabbatical time on September 1st. This will be a time for us to focus on the physical, spiritual, and mental well-being and healing of each member of our immediate family, without the additional daily demands of pastoring, teaching, and everything involved in leading a church planting effort.
We have never been down this particular path before, so there will be a lot of learning as we go. We want to be good stewards of the resources and support God has given us. We are eternally grateful and thankful for all the prayers, gifts, love, and support we have received through so many to sustain us and supply ALL our needs to this point. While a part of us is sad and grieving the loss of what has been a huge part of our lives for many years, we also have a hope for what is to come next! When God closes one door, He always opens another. We still trust and believe God’s promise, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) So what is our next step?
I am often surprised at the ways and moments God uses to reveal the next step to me. 🙂 As I ran to the store to grab a few groceries we needed yesterday, I was struck by the conversation I had in the checkout lane. I went into the store with a short list of what I needed. I was able to find those items, plus a few others I hadn’t put on my list, quickly and efficiently, plus find a short checkout line. (That combination of things all working out at once is quite a miracle itself, now that I think about it!) So when the checker turned to me, I had a smile on my face. He was caught off-guard and commented that he just did not see that from anyone in the checkout line. He asked how I could be so happy. The first thing that popped into my head was I think it’s because I get to go home now. There’s no place like home!
As I reflected on that phrase “I get to go home now”, I realized that it is true for me on so many levels. I efficiently finished my “job” of getting some groceries for my family, and now I can go home and use what is left of my energy to spend time with my family.
On another level. We have now also finished our current, church planting work for the time being. It was like God was speaking to my heart saying, “You have been faithful and finished this job that I called you here to do. Now I am calling you to come home to prepare for what is next. Rest in Me. Draw close to Me, Your Source of peace, joy, and strength.” We see in the gospels that Jesus was always about His Father’s business wherever He went, yet He still took time to go away and spend time alone with His Father. Now, our family gets to have a time to go home, connecting with God, Our Father, and each other, growing closer to on another in these relationships, and serving one another as we live life together, preparing for what is next. 🙂
(Side Note: God has not led us to move or go to another location at this time, so we will still be here and in need of our wonderful friends and family to surround us. Don’t be strangers!)
On a third level, I also can’t help but liken this phrase “I get to go home now” to the Hope I have in my eternal home. I don’t know what circumstances of this life lie in the days ahead. God knows, and He will guide me every step of the way. I do know that one day I will get to go to my Eternal Home in Paradise to live with My Father forever, free from cancer and all the difficulties of this life. What a glorious day that will be!
Today is a stepping stone to the next big thing God has for our lives. He definitely has something planned, we just don’t know all the details yet. He is just showing us the next step at this moment, not shining a spotlight illuminating the entire path yet. Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support as God reveals the next exciting steps to us!
Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”