Today I had a layover in the Brussels airport. As I came around the corner towards my gate I recognized a familiar place-Starbucks. And not just any Starbucks! I started to feel happy tears coming on (I know, I know don't get freaked out by my tears--it's just the way I process things in my heart! :) I remembered being in this very place a few years ago after a sudden sad hard unexpected departure from Uganda.
I remember writing the supporter update trying to explain what was going on and saying that when Iife throws you a curveball and things don't turn out like you hoped, yell 'plot twist' and move on. I didn't yell three years ago, but I did decide to keep with our family tradition and buy a Starbucks mug at this very Starbucks.
Today I returned there and my heart was full of thankfulness for the way has God has led and directed and even the recent happy detours, surprises and new friends He's brought my way.
Today I had a peppermint mocha that cost me way too many Euros, but it was my first one in a year and it was in celebration of a God and Saviour who kindly leads us in His ways.
A friend was remarking this week how much they admire the non-traditional route my life has taken, and we went on to chat about what success is. I can't take credit for the path my life has taken, it's entirely God. They laughed recalling how they were voted 'most likely to succeed' in highschool and yet their life took a very different route, and although very successful in Gods eyes and plan, it was not quite the picture of success that those highschool classmates likely had in mind. I reflected how at times I haven't always been content with God's path for my life, but God is so good to perfectly weave our lives and details into His perfect individual masterpiece.
Three years ago was one such time when I was doubting Gods sovereign plan. The year that followed my unexpected departure from Uganda was one of the hardest of my life. The biggest curveball was when the godly men who were giving oversight over the previous ministry I was a part of, didn't call into account the sinful behaviour of another missionary which resulted in my sending church pulling me out to protect me. It seemed easier to brush things over and preserve the ministry rather than protect people. A few months later I would begin to battle nightmares and some other evidences of PTSD. Later my counsellor would tell me that I had stuck with the situation too long, my best friend remarked "loyal, loyal Laura"... sometimes you're loyal too long. God would heal me through the prayers and words of friends and others God put into my life. And in the process I would grow in sensitivity and understanding of the issues of abuse, especially in the context of ministry.
However the biggest struggle was one that I was fighting with God. I had no doubt that he Had unmistakably led me to my first ministry. And I realized that He knew beforehand what I would go through, and I obediently followed Him there. Why would a loving God allow this? Hadn't I already given up enough-a great job and career? A nice home and car? Hadn't I also given up having some of the worlds best friends and family close by?
Yes, God knew all these things in advance. And because of what He allowed I doubted His love for me. It would be many months later when He would reveal the deep truths of His love in what had happened, and I will never forget that moment when I laid out on the carpet at a retreat centre in Colorado before Him and confessed my doubt and unbelief. He in turn filled me with a new and deeper sense of His love and sovereignty. Something I'm Not even sure I can adequately put into words yet.
This week I prayed for a friend that God would make the paths of their feet and their heart straight, and that even when the path was dark they would keep walking in faith. I pray the same thing for each of you. I pray that you would be reminded of the God who sees, but also the God who is Emmanuel-the One who is WITH us; hanging unto our hands when we don't have the Strength to hold on, and carrying us when we are too weak to walk.
9 years ago God gave me this quote:
"God plants His own lovely seed in the human heart and when the time for its fruition has come, to our astonishment and delight His will becomes ours and ours becomes His. Who but God could have thought of anything this perfect?"-Peter Marshall
In time all will be made right. Today I write from the happy place of now being able to see God's good hand in what were very difficult things. In time Jesus can heal and restore, He will make all things straight. But today if you just can't see the light or you just can't take another step; fall into His arms in weakness and let Him carry you. It's ok to be weak when you rest in the arms of Jesus.