Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
This verse was told by Moses to Joshua and the Isrealites just as they were crossing the Jordan river into the promised land. They had been wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their doubt the first time around; and finally the Lord was giving them what He had promised… and what they had been desiring.
I think it’s interesting that even though the Lord had been guiding them to this point for so long, they were still afraid. Moses had to say these exact three phrases two times in his speech: “The Lord Himself goes before you”, “He will never leave you or forsake you”, and “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”. They knew that this final step was God’s plan for them, yet they were still afraid. I can relate!
I love teaching middle-schoolers! They’re hilarious, random, able to understand humor, and about as ADD as I am at times. We have a blast! But, when I’m teaching them, I know that I need to repeat the main points (usually more than once… ha!). Everyday, as I’m teaching, I have them repeat the main points after me, sometimes in a loud voice, so I know that it’s sinking in. Even in our worship songs, I like having songs that repeat main points. It allows the truth to really sink in… to our bones. “How He loves” and “No sweeter name” were some of the favorite worship songs this year in middle school for that reason… we allowed those truths to envelop us.
As I was sitting, thinking about Moses’ speech this morning, I couldn’t help but think how I would encourage a multitude of ECA elementary and middle-schoolers, the kids in the different ministries around Bogota, the kids in the Jungle… the people I was called to minister to the last 5 years. I would definitely repeat those 3 main phrases, and have them say it out-loud with me. I would have them visualize what those specific phrases mean to them. There would probably be hand motions involved.
And then, I thought about myself and how I need to be reminded of those very important phrases these next few weeks… today… this minute. I probably don’t need hand motions, though. 🙂
Praise God that He’s promised to go before us (believing in an omni-present God, we know that He is already there, working things out in advance for us).
Praise God that He will never leave us or forsake us!
Praise God that because of His presence in our lives, we don’t have to have fear or be discouraged. Perfect love casts out all fear, and He is the joy and lifter of our heads!
One of my favorite quotes that I often give to people who are in transition is:
The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and His promise. — Brennan Manning
There are so many things to be grateful for in this process:
That Leo is with our dear friends, Jonny and Suzie Pineda, another bi-cultural ministry couple (now a family!), who did what we’re about to do 3 years ago. Leo is soaking up all the time with them… asking them the hard questions about leaving behind family, friends and ministry, and what it’s like to start all over again, trusting God to lead him as the head of our family. Hard questions.
That there are wonderful women here that have spent hours on the phone with me through my tears encouraging me, kicking my butt, praying for me, and offering to help, etc.
That I got an email today from our mission pastor’s wife (also our small-group leader) from Vineyard Columbus informing me that because of the great need for immigration counseling within our church body (there are over 100 nations represented! We love our church!), she is sending our case to someone we can talk to when we get to the States! This is a huge relief to both of us!
That ECA is going to be able to rent our apartment to other missionaries, so we don’t have to pack up everything.
That Leo’s dad is coming over on Friday and Saturday to help fix random things around the apartment that we haven’t had time to fix.
That God cares about us so much that He would make it absolutely clear which way we should go! We’d been praying all year that He would give us direction; and while we didn’t ever imagine He would answer us in this way, He did. He heard our prayers and answered them!
There are so many things to be thankful for!
You can continue to pray for these specific things:
Good-byes (especially Leo’s family… it hit them pretty hard!)
My focus in sorting and packing (I’m really having a hard time with this… I need help!)
That God would continue to speak to Leo while he’s in the States with our friends
That if God wants the outreach, missions and worship ministries at ECA to continue, that He would put it on people’s hearts to step up to the task.
That God would rise up another worship leader at our church to replace Leo.
That God would rise up someone to continue working with Leo’s indian group.
That we (I) would stop worrying about all of the above. Ha!
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and prayers for us!