You know how some people pick a word for their year? Many do this in January, casting out a vision for what they want to devote themselves to that year. Hope. Contentment. Gratitude.
We have a word for 2011. It wasn't a word we picked in January. It's a word we have now as the year is wrapping itself in closure. It's a word that over the last twelve months carved itself into our hearts.
That word is:
This year we made the biggest leap of faith we've ever made. Bigger, you say, than leaving all we knew five years ago for the unknowns of the Chinese kingdom? Yes. We were just a couple of newly weds ready for an adventure. And we had a fully loaded support account. And we had an organization to hold our hand. And we knew quite clearly that this was God's calling for us.
This year, we left everything we knew for the unknowns of the California kingdom. With a couple of little lives depending on us. And no idea this would work financially. And no one to hold our hand. But we did know quite clearly that this was God's calling for us.
Here's the thing about leaps of faith. When you work up the gumption to actually jump, you hope that you'll quickly be rewarded with the solid feeling of security under your feet again. But when we made this leap, we felt suspended in the air, waiting, waiting … wondering if we would land on our feet or crash on our faces.
And like Peter stepping out of the boat, we began to look at the waves and the wind around us. And like the disciples in the other storm with Jesus asleep in the stern, we cried out,“Lord, don't you care if we drown?!”
But one soggy step at a time, we moved forward. Sometimes up to our necks in doubt, but still moving, still waiting. Every job lead gave us hope, every possibility that fell through brought more swirling doubt. We're ashamed to admit that we even wondered if we'd heard wrong. Was this calling to pursue this degree, this mammoth research not divinely inspired, but conjured up on our own?
Then its own dreadfully slow way, light began to pierce the clouds. A gift and a note of encouragement. More waiting. Another job interview lined up. More waiting. A job! Yet the numbers don't add up. More waiting. Then at last dawn broke open the sky, and grace poured out. A higher salary than promised. An unexpected scholarship. A nine credit hour reduction. An email to say, "How can I help you financially?"
Faith became sight. We can see the way for this dream to grow real.
And in the dawn we see the face of the One who held our hand the whole time. A fatherly, knowing grin spreads across His face, as if to say, “I've got you, remember?”
This is how faith grows, through the fog and the waves. And here's the thing. If our story this year had been different, if we had felt a crash instead of the dawn, He STILL would be there holding our hand. And that would have been enough.
Somehow, for some purpose, He is making a way for us to put the pieces of education and experience together to make a tool for Him to use. In the process He is etching faith deeper into our lives. To each of you who have been a part of our story, who have given your encouragement, your support, your prayers, we thank you. You watered our tiny faith seed. And for that there are no words to spell our gratitude.