Today we were supposed to be spending 18 hours traveling back to Bologna, Italy. Instead, our flight reservations had to be cancelled and we stayed on American soil.
Months ago we thought surely making our return trip for June would have given us plenty of time for this season in the States. Now we know God had other plans instead.
It would have been an intensely emotional morning of goodbyes, tears, and fighting the guilt we feel because of the fact that we would be moving so far away from loved ones again. Instead, we happily enjoyed a pancake breakfast with the peace of mind knowing we were within driving distance of them.
We would have been navigating the zoo of security checks and waiting terminals in 3 different airports. Instead we visited the penguins, jaguar and flamingos at the local zoo thanks to a membership gifted to us by friends who wanted us to enjoy it while we are here.
We would have had several meticulously packed cases in tow with us across the ocean filled with things not easily found in Italy. Instead, we have those things in our pantry, closets or available to us just outside our door.
We would have been arriving in Italy homeless and needing to find a new place to live. Instead, we recently moved into a lovely little duplex God provided for us to call home while we are in the States.
We would have been reunited with a garage full of things we stored in Italy. Instead, we have a place filled with some things we stored with family years ago and others borrowed from generous folks who wanted to help us during this unexpected in-between time.
We would have been starting a new chapter of life and ministry in Italy. Instead we are continuing in this chapter of life and ministry in the States.
We would have been welcomed by a team of friends and colleagues who are excited to have us work alongside them to share Christ in Italy. Instead, we are working remotely on our projects and waiting for when God releases us to be back on the field with them again.
We would have been diving back in to language learning, cultural immersion and the work of ministry on the field. Instead we are searching for others to join our support team and intentionally getting our family recharged so that we can return to the field.
The cancellation of our flight reservations represents a lot of things that have dramatically changed from what we thought would be our reality today. I’ve got lots of conflicting yet real feelings about it all – so much paradox to process. I’m sure you can relate to having great plans and finding that God had different ones.
One thing God has been teaching me as I’ve processed all these changes He has allowed or orchestrated, is more about what it means to trust Him instead of myself and my need to put my confidence in Him rather than in my circumstances. Most things I mentioned above that ‘would have been,’ ‘will be’ in the future, God willing. But for now it’s clear He has asked us to wait, receive what He has for us now, serve where we are, and trust Him for His best with the rest.
I’ve been meditating a lot on Jeremiah 17:5-9: a passage that shows a clear contrast between what we would tend to do and the alternative God has called us to instead. You may find it helpful as I did to see the direct comparisons of each verse by reading the bold sections (vs 5 & 7) together and the italics (vs 6 & 8-9) together. It reads:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Thanks for sharing this journey with me as we seek to weather cancellations and all life brings by trusting Him and staying planted by the water rather than trading Him for our best laid plans and the wastelands of self sufficiency!
In His grip,