Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great Adventure. Part 4ish?

I am so behind. By now, anyone who cares has probably heard the complete tale of all that is going on thus far in our Great Adventure. I will try to be brief and bring its written form up to date in ONE last blog post. Please restrain your skeptical chuckles. I am determined. The farther away from the details I get, the more foggy they become, so I need to catch up!

This story is so very long already, but it needs to be remembered in all of its details. This is the biggest journey of faith, so far, that the Lord has led our little family on. I don't want it to become a vague "It was really hard, but God was faithful and said some good things so we knew where He was leading." I wish I knew more of what my own parents struggled with in their faith years and years ago. I want to know more about what shaped their character into the godly examples that they are today. I want to know more about Who God was to them on their journeys. I want to be able to show Leilani and any other little ones the Lord gives us, exactly what happened. I don't want our faith to be something vague and impersonal to them. I want them to have concrete examples of the Lord's faithfulness and how He works in our lives.

So where was I?

Ryan had resigned. We had followed the leading of the Lord and lept off the cliff into the great Unknown. So why Colorado Springs? It appeared that the Lord had not opened that door back in July. We had applied at Compassion and Ryan did not get the job. Two others were applied for, but still, no response or results. As we prayed for the Lords leading and discernment in the weeks leading up to resignation, our hearts and minds could not shake the feeling that there was something different about the Springs. The door seemed closed, but we still felt turned in that direction, the Lord had not lead our hearts elsewhere.

We had, however, applied last summer (2010) with a Seventh Day Adventist language school in Seoul, South Korea. It was an exciting opportunity to teach English and lead Bible studies for a year. The school would have flown us out, paid for our housing, and given us a monthly paycheck to cover our living needs. It would be an opportunity to save some money, explore a new culture and country, and spend time together serving the Lord in a new way. We received zero response to our initial application last year. Zero. Not even an automated "Thank you for your application" email. So we forgot about it.

A week before things went down at Ryan's job, he got an email from someone working at this school. They wanted to know if we would be interested in leaving for Korea in December to teach for a year. Excitement again built as it seemed that the Lord was doing something dramatic and exciting. We felt strongly that in order to make a move this gigantic, the Lord would have to make it happen, and that if He did, we would go. We were waiting to hear back if they had accommodation for Leilani, and once again communication again ceased inexplicably after just a few days. So frustrating. But "random" enough seeming that we felt the Lord may still be doing something in the Korea-for-a-year direction. 

When Ryan resigned, we were on exactly two paths. Both seemed like dead ends. Colorado was still "randomly" pulling at our hearts and the Korean school had "randomly" entered our sights again. Two days after the Lord had told Ryan to resign, he was thinking over the two scriptures that the Lord had given him. He was suddenly impressed with part of the second scripture from Psalms 107:

Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

"By a straight way?" He realized that the Lord had us on two specific paths. The Springs, and Seoul, South Korea. Both seemed closed, but the Lord had not allowed either of them to leave our hearts and minds. He called me that moment on his way to work and said "Ruth, the Lord said He was going to lead us by a straight path to a city to dwell in, we are going to Colorado or Seoul. I just know it." That same day, through a series of "random coincidences," the Lord impressed on our hearts that He was not going to settle us in an overseas ministry. Seoul was not "our city of habitation."

The day after resignation, on Friday, Ryan decided to google driving directions to the Springs from Wash. D.C. I looked over his shoulder and noticed that the directions took us in almost a perfect straight line from one city to the other. He then decided just for fun to find out exactly how straight on the globe each city was and he googled their latitudinal coordinates. (Remember those from back in elementary school? Yeah, I had sorta forgotten about those too.) Washington D.C., our current city, was at 38.8 degrees. Colorado Springs was at exactly 38.8 degrees. They were on the same geographical line across the globe. Couldn't get much straighter than that!

We were totally blown away by that, but knew that the Lord would have to tell us in the scripture that Colorado was actually the place He wanted us to go. Sabbath morning, the next day, Ryan decided to listen to the next podcast on his ipod. When I woke up an hour later he was excited. The very next podcast after the ones he had listened to that week, was a reading of Psalms 84. Check out what God said:

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God...
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (which means tears), they make it a place of Springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools."
The day Ryan resigned, we ate our lunch outside and noticed that we were surrounded by about 20 little sparrows eating their fill. I was so encouraged that afternoon remembering that  "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." That the Lord reminded us that even His little sparrows have a place near Him to settle and lay their little ones. Immediately after that, "Blessed are those... whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. They will pass through the place of tears and make it to a place of Springs." 

God's words are living and active, and when He speaks to you, there is no mistaking it. We both knew right then that the Lord was going to lead our little family on a journey over a straight path, through the valley of tears, to a place of Springs. He had called it out by name.

Sunday was a day of stress. Reality was setting in, panic had waved at us from not too far away, and as of yet, We Had No Plan. Ryan and I are both planners. I go to bed every night thinking over my to do list (bad idea) and wake up ready to make a plan for how to spend the day. God had told us what He was going to do, but not How or When. We forgot for a moment that this was God's journey. He started it, He was carrying us on it, He was going to get us there in HIS time, HIS way. Everything that had occurred sat with its full weight on our shoulders and suddenly, we lost sight of Jesus on the waves. I have written down in my journal on 9/15 "I am feeling so overwhelmed with all that must happen!" I even made a list of the big things that stood out that afternoon. The biggest was finances and whether or not Ryan needed to get to the Springs to do... something? Shouldn't he go? God was moving fast, shouldn't we as well? I was feeling so bad that the Lord had so clearly been leading us and that already, I was freaking out and lacking trust. 

It was almost audible as I sat there during Leilani's nap. He said clearly in my mind in the midst of all my churning "Be STILL and Know that I AM GOD." Stop Stop Stop. I am God I am doing this. I opened my Bible right then to the place where my bookmark was in Psalms. I needed to seek Him first. This is what I read in chapter 62:

My soul waits for God only, from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken... My hope is from Him. He is the rock of my strength... You have been my stronghold in the day of my distress. Trust in Him at all times O people, pour out your hearts before Him, God is a refuge for us.

I opened my journal to write down that passage. I really needed that reminder. As I was flipping through my pages to get to my blank spot, my eye fell on a passage that I had written down back in July (the 25th) while I was reading through Experiencing God. Isaiah 46:11 had encouraged me when as I was studying about following God wherever He led. 
"Indeed I have spoken it; I will bring it to pass. I have purposed it, I will also do it." 

If God was leading the way and calling us to join Him, HE would bring His will to pass. It was not our job to make the plan, merely to wait, watch intently and follow wherever He went. I was so encouraged that evening, and filled with peace. He had been showing me for weeks that He was our Provider and that His will was accomplished by Him, not through our wisdom and understanding. 

Ryan and I laid down our concerns that night, and gave them to God. He had said "Watch Me, watch what I am going to do for you." We prayed and asked Him to make His will explicitly clear to us, and that if Ryan needed to go to Colorado, that the Lord would provide the way in His time. 

Monday morning, Ryan was online catching a friend up with all that had been going on. He was telling him about how the Lord had showed us that Colorado was where He was going to settle us. He did not say anything about going over to CO, or anything about needing funds for a trip like that. Our friend responded with "Wow. So a bunch of weeks ago when all your computers died, I felt that the Lord was telling me to do something to help you guys out. I have been saving up some money to get you guys a new computer, but it looks like what you guys really need is a plane ticket over there. I am going to buy you a plane ticket, lets check out how soon you can leave." 

Less than 24 hours after God had told us to watch, He had already provided a plane ticket for Ryan to get to Colorado. The way things worked out with airfare and availability made that Sunday (the first of October) the best time to go. That same day, Ryan emailed the pastor of the church in the Springs where we would attend. He explained that the Lord was leading us over there, that he would be in town the next week. He hoped to be able to pray with him and find out more about the area and the church. Wednesday morning he got a call from their head elder, Allen. They had a wonderful conversation, he was so encouraging and had lots of exciting things to tell about the Springs. At the end of their conversation, Allen asked if Ryan had a place to stay while he was visiting. Ryan said not yet. By Thursday afternoon, Allen had worked it out so that Ryan could stay with his in-laws the entire time he was down there. 

Thursday evening, we had dinner with Ryan's parents. We had not had a chance to fully catch them up on all that was happening. They were so supportive of Ryan's decision to resign from the beginning, and when we told them that the Lord was leading us to Colorado, they immediately agreed. We were so thankful for their instant encouragement and support. They even volunteered to get Ryan a rental to drive while he was down there. 

In four days, God had given us airfare, a place to stay and a rental for Ryan to go to Colorado. We were in awe of His goodness. Long story short, Ryan had a wonderful trip. Honestly, we were expecting God to give him a job while he was there and show us where He wanted us to live. His timing is different from ours though, and Ryan did not get a job while he was there. It was a trip that established new friends, and further solidified God's will. Halfway through his 4 day trip, we felt discouraged as it appeared "nothing was happening." But during Ryan's devotions that morning, God encouraged us with Psalm 27: 13-14

"I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord."

The Lord has brought that scripture to us over and over in different ways the past month. And we have really needed it. 

About two weeks ago, Ryan was reading again the scripture about the Lord leading "in a straight path." There was a footnote to Deuteronomy that was talking about the Israelites on their journey. In the midst of this journey that the Lord was leading them on, they celebrated the "Feast of Tabernacles." The built temporary shelters to live in during this feast, and celebrated that the Lord was with them leading to their home. Ryan wasn't sure what to make of that "temporary celebration before reaching the destination that the Lord had." But the next day, we were connected by a friend to someone from another English school in Korea. We decided that finding out more information about a potential opportunity could not hurt. We knew that we were headed to Colorado, but we were interested in whether or not the Lord would have us "tabernacle with Him" along the way in a temporary place. Unlike before, communication has flowed smoothly between us and this school. Ryan has already had a phone interview for a teaching position, and we are waiting to hear back any day about the results. 

Currently, we still have to sell our house in a bad market, we have a mortgage and no income, and no solid plans. But this month has been so full of the Lord's provision. God has entwined our story with so many dear people, who have stepped into our lives and been the hands of God to us and completely blown our minds. He has provided for our financial needs, and given us encouragement, every time the waves of uncertainty seemed to become too tall. Being still and waiting is hard, but God never leaves our side!

Living by faith Works. Prayer works. God is Faithful. This Great Adventure is not too big for Him. We see His goodness every day and can not wait to see how He establishes our future in Him. Thank you for being a part of this with us!

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