I donâ€™t know, dear reader, how close you are with your family. I would love to be closer with mine, in the metaphorical sense, but my distance from them, in the literal sense, sort of makes it difficult. I moved to Scotland in 2005, and then here to South Africa earlier this year, and though absence does make the heart grow fonder, the 7,000 odd miles I find myself away from home are quite a chasm when it comes to staying close. Thankfully we can still speak regularly through email and Facebook and on Skype, but ya know, it just ainâ€™t the same sometimes!
Because of the distance I’ve made it a major priority to get home when possible…usually it worked out once in the summer when I could also meet with ministry partners and raise additional support, and again at Christmas, because itâ€™s Christmas, and thereâ€™s no place in the world Iâ€™d rather be! After Mark and I married we decided we should alternate where we would be each year for Christmas. So our first Christmas was back in NC, and then the next year, for the first time in my life, I was not home in Washington, North Carolina at the same house Iâ€™d spent every Christmas since the day I was born. It was nice to be with Markâ€™s family in South Africa, but I really really missed my folks, my brother and sister, and the lovely life and light and spirit in the air that you find when you are home for Christmas.
This year, you’ll see if youâ€™re following the narrative, should be a back-in-North-Carolina-for-Christmas year. And I sure do want it to be. Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility it might not be. I have to note here, that we have had the wonderful privilege of being at home a lot this year. Since we werenâ€™t there last Christmas, we planned a trip early in the new year to see family and try to raise additional ministry support. And delightfully, last Christmas my sister got engaged, and we returned to NC in May to celebrate her wedding, which was an absolute joy. When we decided to move to South Africa, that meant we returned to the US a third time to meet with Samaritanâ€™s Feet, discuss us coming on board with their ministry, and as always seems to be the case, to raise support again, while visiting family as well. Clearly, I cannot complain that I havenâ€™t seen the fam a good bit this year.
At present we find ourselves in South Africa, and as you can imagine, the travels and the expenses of moving to a new country are fairly expensive. As a result, headin’ home for da holidays doesnâ€™t seem financially feasible, or like a good stewardship decision. Yeah, we could probably juggle around finances and clear space on a credit card to make it possible, but we both feel like thatâ€™s the wrong move to make. Thereâ€™d been a tiny whisper in the back of my mind telling me Christmas in the Carolinas might not happen this year… Iâ€™d been telling it to HUSH! But as we sat down and looked at the price of flights and our financial status at the moment, it became really clear that the right decision would be NOT to buy flights, and to wait and go sometime early next year, like hopefully when Rory and Sarah are getting married, which is also after my sisterâ€™s baby will be born so Iâ€™ll get to meet him/her too. (Yeah that was fast wasn’t it?) But dern, that is hard!
I cried a little. Okay a lot. But came to my senses and remembered that the Lord is good and that He can bring all these things together for good, even when they donâ€™t look exactly how I would like for them to. I decided to press on to some quiet time with the Lord after a slightly weepy shower, and just continued along in my reading plan, which brought me to Exodus 14. And where might that be, you are wondering? Well, itâ€™s the slice of history where Moses leads the Iraelites out of Egypt, and out of 400 years of slavery. I was hoping for the Lord to meet me in His Word — to give me a sense of His movement in the midst of my circumstances, and I stopped at verses 13 & 14.
â€œDo not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. […] The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.â€
After reading this I thought — Okay, Lord, what is my deliverance? Should I be praying that something miraculous will happen that will enable us to head home for the holidays? Why doesnâ€™t that feel right? Are you fighting for me? And as my prayer continued I began to realise that the Lord was fighting for me. He was not fighting for me to have my way — He was fighting for my heart, for me to realise that I should asking Him to lead me in His way, because His way is the best way. And I recognised in my heart, when I honestly took a look at it, that going home to see my family had become more important to me than listening to the Lord, and being where He wants me when He wants me.
Itâ€™s like the scene in Dumb and Dumber when Harry and Lloyd are going back and forth â€œTag! Youâ€™re it…â€ â€œTag… youâ€™re it, quitsies!â€ â€œTag, youâ€™re it, stamped it!â€ â€œTag youâ€™re it, double stamped it!â€ and finally one of them sticks his fingers in his ears and says â€œLalalalalala not listening! Lalalalalalaâ€ I think I mightâ€™ve been the one with my fingers in my ears…sort of sensing for a while the Lordâ€™s desire for me to seek Him and His will, instead of chasing after my own.
Whatâ€™s amazing is, the Lord orchestrated that tight spot — when the Israelites were facing the Red Sea in front of them, and the Egyptian army rolls up ready to take them by force, approaching faster and faster — to show His desire to be the Lord of His people, to demonstrate clearly that He desired their deliverance, and He would make a way for them. If they had a choice, they might not have chosen to cross the Red Sea. They might have chosen to take a different route, an easier route. But the route God chose for them — crossing the Red Sea — has been a pillar of faith for generations.Â Their childrenâ€™s childrenâ€™s children heard the stories about the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites, by their powerful and loving God.
In the same way, the Lord orchestrated a tight spot for me. I could choose to circumvent His will and get to North Carolina somewaysomehow, but the deliverance God provided for me, which I needed to walk in, was the deliverance from my desire to do what I want, at the expense of disobeying the Lord Iâ€™ve committed to serve, who loves me and knows whatâ€™s best for me. Our deliverance is often not the deliverance that provides us with everything we ever wanted, itâ€™s the deliverance from the selfish and sinful nature, and the deliverance that helps us realise there is something better than our way — Godâ€™s way.
So, Iâ€™m hoping Iâ€™ve taken my fingers out of my ears, and stopped with my â€œlalalalalalanotlisteninglalala…â€ God has been too good to me for me not to trust Him when things arenâ€™t going my way. Iâ€™d encourage you to look for Godâ€™s deliverance in your life today. I warn you — it may look different from what you expect. But from what I know of the goodness of God, He will work things out for your good, if you can love Him and walk His way.