One of my favorite heroes growing up was Indiana Jones. With a cool hat, a calm demeanor, and a cockeyed grin, he always showed faith that things would work out in the end. I loved the part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he took the leap of faith, stepping into what he believed was an abyss only to discover that a way across had been there all along.
It’s a good reminder to Tracy and me as we follow God’s call to serve Him and those around us, now and when we get to Cape Town. It’s important to have faith in His providence for what lies ahead and to strengthen that faith by remembering times He has provided for our needs in the past.
Three reminders came to us last week.
One reminder was a sugar maple in the front yard that suddenly bloomed with our first hints of fall. It was stunningly beautiful, a deeply green tree topped with orange highlights glowing in the warm light of the afternoon sun, all set against a deeply blue sky and puffy white clouds. It’s an annual blessing, a pageant that never fails to come and never fails to please. We know that cold winds will soon follow, bringing snow and dormancy that has long symbolized death, but we know that there will be beauty in the decline, and we know that they will be followed by new life and beauty blossoming in spring. And knowing that gives us faith in the Maker of beauty.
Another reminder was an opportunity to speak to the local historical society about our past and present missionary work. Preparing the presentation forced me to think again about how this started, why we do it, people we’ve met, and experiences we’ve had. I looked through old photos and remembered friends made in Senegal, Mongolia, Zambia, and Nigeria. I thought about the majestic display of God’s glory in the Gobi Desert, about fervent prayers for lost luggage at the start of that trip, about safety on scary roads and while riding with a drunk cabbie (long story), about dozens of times not getting sick and about good samaritans when I did, about funds coming together in time for trips, and about broken equipment working again after prayers and renewed attention on God. I remember a hundred cultural mistakes and a thousand examples of grace from those around us. I remember relying on God persistently while a stranger in strange lands.
The last reminder was closer to home. Last Saturday, my mom had to go to the hospital for a few days (she’s out and regaining her strength). For many years, Mom has suffered some pretty bad lung problems (largely related to her parents’ smoking and her former work as an x-ray technician back when they hand-developed the films over basins of noxious chemicals). Her going into the hospital every year just seemed a normal part of life when I was a kid, but God always brought her home after a few days. I just had to wait, comforted by memories of God’s faithfulness in the past and trusting Him to bring her home again, just like He did last week.
It’s an important lesson to remember, especially as we prepare to move 8,014 miles away. Tracy and I love our families, and leaving them is the hardest part of entering missions; obviously, it’s hard on them, too. We know that we will miss them, but we have to trust God with them in our absence.
And we know that we can do that whenever we remember God’s faithfulness.
If you would, please take a moment to pray for our families and for Tracy, who lost her mom to cancer in January 2013.
Psalm 105 (NIV):
1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
5 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
. . .