In a few short weeks I will rejoin the ranks of America’s workforce. I’ve spent the better part of the last two and a half years serving as a missionary with my husband in the postage stamp sized country of Malawi, in Southern Africa.
This fall we took a quick little jaunt over to the Philippines, only to come up to a “do not enter” sign from God, which found us unexpectedly back “home” in the US.
I’ve officially lived in three continents in one calendar year, and I’d be lying if I said my head isn’t still spinning.
But here I am–one in a sea of the masses. No glamorous adventure. (Third-world missions are NOT glamorous, by the way, like, at all.) No obvious purpose. No sense of being a part of something bigger than myself. Just a regular girl, living in a basement apartment, staring at a dying Christmas tree wondering what the heck I’m doing here.
As I reflect on this past year, there are many questions that run through my head, but it always comes back to, is this really Your plan God? Why would You allow us to leave a place of such rich growth and obvious purpose for the humdrum of “regular life”?
The questions have seemed to fall on deaf ears, and what has surfaced as a result has been this great big, ugly, icy cold, black ball of fear. The kind that sinks in the pit of your stomach and makes your palms sweat cold if you even take a glance at it, never mind stare at it head on.
And it seems like the biggest, ugliest, coldest, blackest fear is that of the unknown. It seems to tower overhead in all its icy blackness and threaten to swallow us whole, leaving no trace of the glowing richness of days gone by. So I shut my eyes, swallow hard, and try not to look at the looming black tower, but feebly put one foot in front of the other, groping for something familiar or recognizable or sure.
And the funny thing about it is that feeble steps are still steps, and suddenly you step right into something that actually looks like a direction. And the cold black tower of fear cowers a little bit as a slice of the unknown falls away, only to retaliate in the presence of the known.
What are we to do? There’s fear of the unknown and fear of the known, and that icy black, cold-sweat monstrosity of fear is still looming.
I open the Book of Light. Sure, I know lots of things written there, but just as knowing how to turn on a lamp does not produce any light unless the action is performed, neither does any knowledge of truth benefit me unless it is accessed. And as sure as light floods a darkened room once a lamp is turned on, the light of truth floods my trembling heart and lays waste to all the lying fears.
And soon a string of lights is glowing all around, buffering and comforting and warming this feeble heart from that cold black outsider of fear. Lights shine and glow, “be still,” “fear nothing from God,” “I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you” (Psa. 46:10, Phil. 4:7, Jn. 16:33 AMPC).
And a little bit of footing is found under my feeble feet, and suddenly it’s not so cold and my palms aren’t as sweaty.
That icy black tower has always been there in varying degrees, but it has been “deprived of power to harm” and has been “conquered” on our behalf. So today, maybe there’s not actually much more known than unknown, but there’s the simple comfort of being wrapped up in glowing Light.