Thursday, September 1, 2016

For the Days When You Are Afraid....

I've lost my voice.
Not the one that allows me to speak throughout the day, but the one that allows me to express my thoughts and feelings in this place: this small oasis filled with images and words.
It's been gone for months now.
Oh, from time to time I've been able to croak out a few lines here or there, and I've tacked up a few of our memories, but I've been mostly silent for months now.

I've wondered why the words have been dammed up inside of me.
It's not because I've not wanted to speak out; not because I've not needed to spill all the thoughts out on to {virtual} paper so as to better work through them.
Words have eluded me. Dullness has hung about my mind.

I chalk it up to the fact that we have added two missionary families this year, and our work load has increased greatly.
In the quiet corners of my mind, I don't really think that is it, though.

This afternoon I have a few quiet moments ~ a rarity these days.
I'm chopping  and shredding vegetables for tonight's meal and praying while I do so.
Something inside of me starts to slowly but urgently press against the floodgates.
I feel as if the answer I've been searching for has finally arrived at my door.
I stop to listen, asking God to help me make sense of all the struggles, the overwhelmedness, the confusion I've felt these past months.

"Where has your mind been since January?" the Holy Spirit asks.
As the question hangs, I feel the dam beginning to crack.
The answer has been there, bottled up, waiting for me to look with honest eyes on the truth of this whole matter.

In an instant, I know.
My voice returns, my mind fills with the words that have been missing for so long.
I've been worrying about the future.
I've had no voice, because I've had nothing to say about today.
I've had nothing to say about today {or any other day}, because I've been mentally wrapped up in "what-ifs" and "maybes."

We've been in Ghana over four years this term.
When we leave for furlough next year, we'll have been here for five years straight.
It has been a breaking, building, growing, stretching, cementing time for us, and I'm terrified of leaving my home.

Here is where we know how best to be a family.
The people God has called us to are here.
The church God has allowed us to see raised up is here.
Our life's work is here.
I'm comfortable here.

And come June of next year, I have to leave it for a while.
Of course I want to see those I love and reconnect with our churches {and go shopping at Target, and drink Starbucks hot cocoa, and spend the winter in Michigan, and crunch autumn leaves, and buy books!},
but it is hard to pack up one's entire life and live as a pilgrim, a wanderer.

We've given the last 13 years of our lives to reach these people with the glorious story of Jesus.
And while I know we're not going away forever, it's really hard to want to leave at all.
This is why I've been silent.
My tongue has been tied up with fear.

Fear of transition and change and differences and being uncomfortable and confused and helping our kids transition well.
Fear of feeling out of the loop, and lost, and homeless, and purposeless from time to time.
And the more realistic fears about traveling, and money, and switching cultures, and languages, and having to live by faith in an entirely different way than we are used to.

I've been tongue-tied, because my eyes and my mind have been in the wrong place.
God expressly commands me to NOT think about tomorrow.
That's been the only thing I have been thinking about.

And when I spend all my todays thinking about my tomorrows?
I miss out on every good gift I was handed this day.

I'm like a person whose eyes work perfectly well, but walks around with them squeezed shut all the time.
In reality I'm living like a blind woman, even though I can see.

Today I resolve to open my eyes wide.
To live with seeing eyes and hearing ears, with a feeling heart and an alert mind, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.
With God's help I'm not going to dwell on what is happening next year, next month, or even tomorrow.
I'm going to anchor my mind to this moment.
I will be thankful for the present, counting it as the gift it is.
I think Jim Elliot put it best ~
"Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
Today I'm going to strive to live life to the hilt!
I'll let my Lord take care of that.


  1. It's not enough to say that I really needed this. It is like your mind and mine were the same miles a part. You are in a country that I thought I would be in at this time and my life, and I am in a place where I often feel trapped without understanding in what God has for our family's future ministry. Thank you for letting God open your eyes so that mine could be as well.

  2. What a wonderful reminder to not waste today's energy on tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your heart to encourage mine

  3. Oh Patty! So true. Every missionary I know goes through those times of drought. Perhaps they're because we're not living today, and perhaps they're needful--so that when the words come, they truly express what the Lord wants us to share. I felt exactly the same about our first furlough--five year term, too--and you know what? It was incredible! It was soooo encouraging! It's wonderful to go back to your supporting churches, and someone walks up and says, "I've been praying for you every day." A blessing and so humbling. I pray it will be a time of rich blessings for you, as well, and will energize you for your next term. A missionary friend calls the second term "turning the corner." It has something to do with commitment and really digging in. God bless you!

  4. A situation happened today that got me thinking the "what ifs." I have been working to keep my heart and mind on the God who is wonderfully in control, even when things look like they are going out of control. Thank you for sharing your experience which encourages us to look to the Lord.