And so here I find myself.
This week my family moved into a new temporary home.
A home I never dreamed of vacuuming, beds that I didn’t think I would ever make, dishes I would ever need to put away.
It is a postcode I never intended to memorise, a life I thought was not for me.
I am not a missionary anymore.
I am not living in South East Asia.
I am not part of that team, not part of that mission, not working towards that… not anymore.
I haven’t communicated the journey that got us from getting our immunisations up to date in February, eagerly anticipating our return to the field – to why Hoosband was looking for a day job to put food on the (Australian) table by the end of March.
I don’t think I will go into it.
I think I can say that it was not my decision, that it took my family by great surprise and that we still do not understand the whole thing.
I think I can say that, the fact that I am here,
when I (along with my entire family) was 100% willing to go back – that there was no deficiency in our character, no issue found with our conduct. When we were begging to go back – when we were prepared and supported to go all-in eyes-wide-open to have returned to a task that many do not want to be part of, to live in a place where workers are so few and the harvest is plenty…
…is everything sad and unfortunate about the politics and business of ‘mission’.
I think I will say that everyone involved in deciding that my home was no longer my home – is someone that I love and respect as a brother or sister in Christ.
I think I can say that I trust their motives, their hearts & their love for our Lord.
I think I am allowed to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with them.
And I think, in love, I will leave it at that.
But agree or not.
I am finding myself here.
In this strange new postcode, in which the darkness seems to thrive in shades of grey
and where the lost look so much like the found that I find apathy as my greatest threat. Where I feel like I lack a sense of direction.
Where the milk comes fresh in 3 litres, where I need to budget for firewood and there are 4 seasons in a year.
I find myself here.
With a new ‘mission’ that I have not trained or equipped myself for these past 10 years.
I am not writing to share the story,
I am choosing to write now to address something that has come up many times.
That when Hoosband and I first realised we were fighting to get back, we were told many times that – we must not give up.
That God must really want us there and that this was Satan trying to stop us – for sure.
When we were swimming in a constant tide of negative feedback and heart-hurting criticism, we were counselled that if we were to buckle under that pressure – the only one laughing would be the evil one. That we could not let him win the day.
Again and again we were told that we were needed on the field.
That we were surely called to the field and that we needed to get back there.
That that was surely what God wanted of us, intended for us and we needed to make it happen.
But then. Here we are. With every fight fought, and every avenue explored and every conversation said – 100 times over.
Here we are.
Not back on the field.
So what does that mean?
When we were reeling, and our children were crying.
When our hearts were busted to the point of shatter and we were not permitted to ‘go home’. When we were told that, in the personal opinion of a few, we were unfit to witness truth to the many.
We were encouraged by our fellow believers, that God can turn this into good.
We were told that somehow, God would use this for some good purpose and that we should just wait for it to become apparent.
We were told that somehow, God will use us and probably find a way for us to get back another way… in time.
But what does that mean?
Does that mean that this circumstance took God by surprise?
Does that mean that He has been watching this unfold and wondering how to make glitter from the broken glass?
Is the King of the universe now looking at my family, like a spare set of something that didn’t quite fit, and wondering what the heck to use us for now?
I don’t think so.
Man, I can honestly say I am continually bewildered to find myself in this regional town of Australia.
I am stunned to be the wife of a Carpenter, who puts on boots for 9 – 5 every day, who has a boss and a uniform and takes his lunch to work with him. I still marvel at drinking water from the tap and the hot water in my shower.
I experience confusion, and grief and discouragement.
I have been devastated and angry and completely overwhelmed.
But I have never thought myself to be forgotten.
I have never, for one minute, thought myself to be outside the reach of God.
And I do find it baffling that this would be the encouragement I receive from my brothers and sisters.
I can’t explain it.
I don’t know why we worked towards Missions for so long, wholeheartedly sure that our work was there.
I don’t know why we were so prayerfully driven to South East Asia and why our hearts were so burdened by the task there.
I don’t know why we were invested, and tested and affirmed…
for such a brief time on the field.
For no fruit, little witness and such heart-wrenching goodbyes.
I don’t understand why we paid out such costs – because to me it seems like there was little impact.
I don’t know why we were compelled to give so much of ourselves.
I don’t understand why when we are so willing – we would be unwanted.
But I do know that God understands.
He Knows. Always has done.
I know that God is not rushing now to pick up pieces of this mess and make good out of the bad.
For I know that IN all things, God is working for good.
His plans have not been thwarted…
They are a mystery
Oh for sure, they are a mystery.
I am not up to speed on where He is going with my life.
But God always knew I would sit here.
He knew this postcode.
He knew these neighbours.
He surely went ahead of my family in the regional areas of Australia as in the swamps of Asia.
And so, here I find myself.
And yes there is still grief, and confusion and bewilderment…
but if you know one thing about my circumstances;
Know that victory belongs to the Lord.
Satan may have stopped my family going back, like Paul once mentions Satan stopping him on his travels. I don’t pretend to understand the heavenly battles.
But Satan was not the victor then
and he is not victorious here.
I may not be in Asia anymore but I am smack bang in the middle of God’s mighty right hand.
I may have thought myself broken by this process,
I may not be completely thrilled or 100% healed from this sad turn of events…
but I am tucked tightly in the will of God
and sure of His love for me.
Let me be clear, that my testimony despite the appearance of my daily circumstances – shall always stand as one of God’s over-arching victory.
Not of defeat.
Whoever tells the story, and whatever their version of it is.
I have walked this last year with my Lord,
and He has never faulted in His step.
That is the truth that I dispel the lies with.
That is the stable that I trust in the confusion.
And that is how I comfort the small hearts that broke in March… and continually as they mend a little and break little again, and mend and break and so on.
As does Hoosband’s heart, as does my own.
I tell my littles that ours is just a tiny sentence in the story of God’s love for us, of His love for the people we lived among there and the people we live among now.
That we can cry and grieve and question “where to now?”
We can ache and miss and admit confusion.
But that we are, and always have been, held, and loved and purposed.
We are cared for, and watched over and carried.
We are the children of the living God.
That our sentence is part of God’s story, written before we were born.
And that it is a story of victory.