Well, I'm here! I arrived last Sunday night at 10:45 p.m. Benin time...just 9 hours before welcoming my new students on the first day of school. To say that the past two weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. Just two weeks ago today, God provided a renter for my condo the day after I had resigned from my position on the ship. After contacting Mercy Ships with the good news, I frantically began making preparations to fly out that weekend. The lease was signed the next day (Wednesday), a couple good friends came over that night to help me pack boxes at the condo, more friends helped me move everything out on Thursday, and I handed the keys over on Friday. Saturday afternoon my parents drove me to Atlanta, and by Sunday evening I was in Benin. Between 15 hours on an airplane and 5 hours in the Paris airport, I planned my first day's lessons. Crazy!
Needless to say, I haven't had much time for blogging. Sorry!!! Before I even go into any details about life onboard the Africa Mercy, I know I still need to share the story of how God proved His sovereignty over my decisions. So, here goes...
Right after I resigned from my position with Mercy Ships two weeks ago, I began considering all employment options in Birmingham. One of the first things I did was call my principal from HTMS to tell her that I was officially staying and to ask that she keep me in mind for anything that may become available at the last minute, knowing that my old position had been filled months ago. She was very gracious to say that she would call me first if anything opened up, but I knew it was highly unlikely that anyone would resign from a position the week before school started. Nevertheless, she immediately contacted the board of education to request that she be called if any positions opened up in any of the other schools within our system. Meanwhile, new teacher orientation was underway at the board. After hanging up the phone with my principal, the lady at the board overheard one of the new teachers talking with the superintendent about needing to find an apartment within the city limits so that her child could be enrolled in the school system. My condo was mentioned, she was interested, the school contacted me, she looked at my condo that night and immediately agreed to rent it for 12 months.
Did you catch that? It was my call to my principal to say that I was staying that led to having a renter that afternoon! How's that for timing?
What amazed me so much about my story is not only the way that the rental situation just perfectly fell into place at the last second, although that was amazing. Rather, it's the way that God showed me grace in using my decision to stay as the means by which the renter was provided. You see, I have no doubt that had I boarded that plane on July 26th without anyone to rent my condo, He still could have somehow provided the very same renter on the very same day. However, once I cancelled the airline ticket, had He provided the renter through any other means, I would have always felt guilty for not leaving on July 26th.
My Father knows me. He knows that my faith is far from perfect, and He knows that I often question my own ability to hear Him. He knows that during the entire time I was home, I was questioning myself on everything that I thought had been an answer to prayer. Worse yet--I was questioning Him! If everything that I thought had pointed me to Mercy Ships was really not an answer to prayer, then where were the answers to my prayers? Where was God in all of this? Had He heard me? Was He even listening? Why was He ignoring me??? It is hard to describe the relief that I felt in knowing that I really had heard Him correctly, and realizing that my peace in going really was from Him. All I know is that I felt loved and known and desired by Him in a way that I had never experienced before--not so much because I was going, but because I knew He had heard me, and because He had shown me grace in my own weakness and insecurity. I don't want to ever forget that.
As for me, I used to say that I was never sure of a decision until hindsight. Now I can say that He is teaching me to walk by faith and not by hindsight. :) (my own personal twist on 2 Corinthians 5:7)
As for God, this situation reminds me of one of my favorite Hebrew Passover traditions: the song "Dayenu." At Passover Seders, Jews around the world celebrate God's blessings by singing a song about God's blessings during the Exodus. The title of the song is "Dayenu," which means "it would have been enough." I don't remember the words to the song as it relates to the Passover, but I can certainly apply the principle to my own life:
If He had brought me to South Africa last summer to change a little piece of my view of Him, but left me without any thoughts of Mercy Ships...Dayenu--it would have been enough.
If He had led me to Mercy Ships for the purpose of learning about an amazing organization, but never offered me the position to serve...Dayenu--it would have been enough.
If He had offered me a position with Mercy Ships to allow me to meet extraodinary people and learn more about Him through Gateway in Texas, but sent me back home to love Him in Birmingham...Dayenu--it would have been enough.
If He had provided a renter for me to go, but allowed me to wrestle with questioning my own decisions...Dayenu--it would have been enough.
I prayed for guidance, and He led me. I prayed that when I didn't know what to do, He would be sovereign over my decisions, and He proved that He always has been. I prayed for mercy, and He showed me a love and grace so personal that I cannot doubt His heart or my place within His plan. I am so grateful that He is more than enough.