Day 17 – Beginnings

four.jpg

We started with plans for 2 or 3 – those plans turned into 4. Photo taken 2009, they’ve grown since then! Clockwise from the top: Mandy, Steve, Andreya, and Tom

I remember when my husband and I were young newlyweds (seems it wasn’t THAT long ago) and we were in “discussions” over how many children we hoped to have. Initially, I wanted three children and he wanted two. In the end, neither of us had our way; we have ended up with four wonderful kids. We couldn’t imagine life without any of them. Now, 3 of the 4 have grown up and moved on, 2 are married, and we have 1 grandson – this is far from what I imagined what our family would look like when we “entered into discussions.”

Beginnings are like that: we think we can plan everything out and see the end from the beginning. It’s overwhelming, thinking of how off-track that kind of thinking can be. How many of us were ever planned up enough to face marriage, raise children, to live life in the face of an ever-changing culture? If someone has found the secret to being prepared for life, please let me know!

I married into a pastor’s family and my husband was an associate pastor at our home church at the time. I wasn’t prepared to be a pastor’s wife, not by a long shot, let alone prepared to be a church planting pastor’s wife in a foreign culture when we moved to Africa as missionaries three years later. I didn’t come from a family of preachers or ministers; we were just regular folks, so when I managed to hook the preacher’s son I was in way over my head. There are no handbooks on how to be a minister’s wife or how to follow the call of God. Neither is there an “exit strategy” built in to this call. The ministry, I have learned, is not a vocation. The ministry is a call that goes far beyond vocation. It is part of your soul. It doesn’t matter if we are paid or unpaid for what we do because we can’t shake the call.

Somehow I find myself wondering how, almost 33 years later, I am still partnering in the call with my husband and dreaming for the future, dreaming about church planting, feeding children, and raising up national leaders to help fulfill the vision of planting 1,000 churches in Africa. How many times did we need rescuing throughout those years, I cannot count. Those rescues range from facing sickness, trusting God to keep us safe in war, to the normal financial stresses of raising a family. However, God’s rescue came faithfully each and every time.

Every deliverance, every rescue, has to start somewhere. Those beginnings often go unnoticed by us. They can come in the form of a relationship forming, educational opportunities, chance meetings, all appearing to us as being “normal” occurrences in life. However, the Father, unbeknownst to us, uses those instances as “beginnings” of our rescue.

Judges 13:5 NLT “…he will begin to rescue Israel…”

There will be times in all of our lives when we are aching for rescue. Maybe, like Israel, you are already at the point in your life of needing a rescue. At the writing of the above scripture in Judges, God began to deliver Israel. He was working their rescue out before they even knew that He had heard their call. His answer came subtly, humbly, in the form of a child named Samson born as an only child to his parents who had not been able to have children. Samson’s rescuing of Israel wasn’t manifested until many years later – but the moment he was born, the rescue began.

The beginning of a rescue comes to us in much the same way as the deliverance of Israel by Samson – in small beginnings, God connections, chance occurrences. The work of God in our lives doesn’t come by accident; He is always preparing a rescue for us because He knows exactly when we will need it.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

You can be sure that somewhere in life your rescue began and, as sure as there is a beginning, there is an end! The Rescuer is faithful; you will see the tide change in due course.

 

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