I kept watching the clock. It was early, still dark outside. But I was up anyway…..sleep evaded me. The team would be at the airport to board the plane soon. I should have been with them.
But I couldn’t get on a plane to anywhere. I couldn’t leave the city of Omaha. I was being investigated for neglecting my children. My world was being controlled by the powers of the State of Nebraska. It wasn’t my own anymore.
As I laid in bed next to my sleeping husband, tears fell quietly from my eyes and soaked into my pillow. Tears, the ones that came so easily and often now, leaked out of me from pain, from confusion, from frustration. It is astonishing how much can change in an instant. The summer we had planned was drastically different from where it had landed.
On July 25th of last summer, I was scheduled to be on that plane. I was part of a team of people traveling to an orphanage in Costa Rica. We were supposed to spend 10 days there, caring for the kids, assisting the staff and exploring God’s creation. Olivia was on the team too, and my heart was so thrilled for this opportunity to do God’s work alongside her. She was beyond excited. But one phone call shifted everything and here I was, home in my bed instead of on a plane. My daughter’s beds sat empty in the rooms down the hall. They were asleep in a foster home. I propped my cell phone on my chest and watched as the clock clicked by……4:39am, 4:40am, 4:41am.
I spent eleven years as a banker. When God called me away to work for the Church, no one was more surprised than me. I knew there was something else, something more for me to do. But I would have never guessed it was Kingdom work. No way, not me. Then I felt the nudge….and being a gal bent toward following her Father, I leapt. I’m so glad I did. In the safe haven of the work He gave me, I felt new things coming to life, hurts falling away and dreams reawakening. The part of me that had been asleep for so long in the humdrum of spreadsheets and numbers and general ledgers started to stir, yawn and reach her arms up in a nice, long stretch. Without even realizing it, I walked right into the thing He had designed me for all along. I had a purpose in the Kingdom, a calling to work for Him.
I happened to land in the Global Outreach ministry of my church. This girl, who had never traveled past Mexico for a vacation, was suddenly booking flights for places in the far reaches of the world, and hopping on a plane to Chicago to implore the Consulate of India to approve our last-minute Visa requests. It was the stuff that only God can orchestrate. But I picked it up and fell in love along the way. And at some point, God nestled into my heart this idea to get on one of those planes with one of those teams. ‘Go serve in the world I created, Daughter,’ He said.
After a few starts and stops, Olivia and I were invited onto the Costa Rica team. We couldn’t wait to go over and snuggle babies, to hug the workers there, to tip toe into the waterfall not far from the orphanage. We trained, we planned, we prayed. But then we couldn’t take part anymore and my heart broke into a million tiny shards as I informed my team leaders. It felt like a cruel trick, this dream so large and promising now torn to pieces. At our supervised visits, Olivia was sullen. My girl, who’d had a beckoning into the Nations for years, even before I did, felt like her heart had been trampled too. This dream, to follow our God into the parts of His design we never thought to visit, was no more.
But time, if you let it, has a way of recreating, re-imagining, restoring. My Father is a promise-maker, and, as the maker of promises, He is faithful to keep them. The dream that had never come to fruition was about to be made new. Months later, in the chill of a sunny December afternoon, I rode along in my Pastor’s car, on our way to a Christmas lunch. She mentioned Serbia, told me she felt it was a good fit, asked me consider it….and in my heart was a spark again. The spark of the dream, after growing stale on the floor of my sadness, was still there. And little by little it became a roaring fire.
Take my side and get me out of this; give me back my life, just as you promised.
Psalm 119:154 (MSG)
In four days, I will get on a plane. This time to Serbia, but with a similar purpose-to care for kids, assist the staff and explore God’s creation. With surprising ease, this team has come together, funds have been gathered, prayers have been answered. These days, it’s taking everything in me to contain the excitement that is dangerously close to leaking out of me. I’m not positive my skin can contain it all. God didn’t just want to trade my old dream for a new one. He wanted to ignite in me the kind of dream that overflows and heals. And the whisper in my heart, ‘Lord, let me get on the plane this time.’ will be answered. Because, y’all, a good Father longs to-yearns to- make it all okay again. He doesn’t want to leave us wallowing alone in sorrow, or to flee in the midst of trial. That’s definitely not His desire or His design. When everything breaks down and the dreams held inside your heart fall out, it is absolutely the plan to give you back your life. That’s His promise. He keeps them.