It is Friday morning, January 22, 2009. I have been in Africa for a little more than 11 days, gone from my family for almost 13. I must face the truth. I will not be heading home for another two weeks.
Oh, Lord, that’s hard to write. But here are the facts: 1. our court ruling is not until next Wednesday (Oh, Lord, I need Your help with gratitude—I so with it could have been today—please remind me of the couple whose hearing was postponed—and then they must wait on their ruling as well); 2. We cannot apply for Patrick’s passport until after the court ruling (I SO do not understand that, except that the idea is that the child will not need a passport if he is NOT going to be adopted and leaving the country); 3. We cannot apply for a visa interview until we have EVERYTHING (including that stupid passport) in hand; 4. When our visa interview is scheduled, we must wait for the U.S. Embassy’s ruling on THAT.
I cannot do it.
I feel trapped, surrounded, held back by people who do not want my good, hampered by those who see only the present and not the future. I have a scream inside of me, tears inside of me, that want to come out SO badly, but there is nowhere for me to cry, nowhere for me to scream.
Nowhere for me to turn but YOU.
And I think that is exactly what you want.
I am finding that I cannot do my usual Bible study right now, exploring the Word for depth, asking for new truth to be revealed to me. I can only read the Psalms or one verse at a time—and cry out to you along with the words on the page. This morning I turned to Psalm 40—not by design. Now before I type it, I want to be clear that I completely understand that my situation pales in comparison to so many others, that just around the corner here in Africa are people whose lives are in true despair. But to my Lord, who knows my heart, who sees the complete depths of my weaknesses, I CAN read Psalm 40. MY additions are in parentheses.
I waited patiently for the Lord (oh, not so patiently); he turned to me and heard my cry. (I will believe that You hear my cry; that You do not EVER turn a deaf ear to me). He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (that describes so clearly what I need. I feel like everything under me is uncertain, and I slip constantly).
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord (oh, my God, I cannot say that this is my greatest desire right now—that’s to be home with my family—but I DO want to be faithful, I DO want to show Your faithfulness, Your intimacy through this journey, and it IS my desire that others would come to know You in this personal, amazing way You want.)
Blessed is the man (woman) who makes the Lord his (her) trust, (oh, help me to trust You. Please. I waver so much), who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods (money! I must not put my trust in these people who want money to accomplish the job they are supposed to be doing). Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to You; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. (This is SO true—from the beginning of this process to even further back—going to Grace College, meeting Dave, the ways You have led us through our 17+ years of marriage—You have done amazing things).
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire (keep me from the pride of believing that Your acceptance of me is based on MY actions, MY “piety”; teach me that it is in CHRIST I stand—and You completely accept me because of YOUR sacrifice; my own will not increase Your love and care for me—that has been done for me. What an amazing thought!)
BUT MY EARS YOU HAVE PIERCED! (that exclamation mark is my own. I know the picture this presents—the faithful slave, given his freedom to leave, instead chooses willingly to stay, out of a desire to be close to his master, to know the master better and better—and so has his ear pierced by the master as a sign to show his willing choice to others. This choice to be close to YOU—that is what You want from me. You continue to put me in situations where I must cling to YOU—you pierce my ear).
Burnt offering and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll (I don’t know about a scroll, but I DO believe that You have plans for me, Lord, plans that “work together for the good of those who love the Lord.”) I desire to do Your will, Oh my God; Your law is within my heart. I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as You know, Oh Lord (oh, that is not true. There are many times I have failed to proclaim You to others. Forgive me for my lack of pride in You!) I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and Your truth from the great assembly.
Do not withhold Your mercy from me, O Lord; may Your love and Your truth always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me (so true—the unfaithfulness and doubting of my heart rise up, my failing to acknowledge that Your plan is BEST and GOOD—my sin, oh God, is constant).
Be pleased, O Lord, to save me (THANK GOD Your love for me is not affected by MY unfaithfulness. You ALWAYS remain faithful to Your promises to me). O Lord, come quickly to help me.
May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace (I know this isn’t true of those delaying my departure, but it sure feels like it sometimes). May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame.
BUT MAY ALL WHO SEEK YOU REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN YOU; MAY THOSE WHO LOVE YOUR SALVATION ALWAYS SAY, “THE LORD BE EXALTED!”
(And now the return to the inconstant, wavering state of the human heart—thank you for your honesty, psalm writer David). Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. (That is my only hope.) You are my help and my deliverer;
OH MY GOD, DO NOT DELAY!
It is later in the same day that I typed out Psalm 40 and rejoiced in the amazing truth that Scripture is real and alive and applicable to every situation of our lives. The Lord has given me so much this day:
PERSPECTIVE: Yes, I am separated from my family, but I have food, shelter, the real hope of being reunited with my loved ones in the not-too-far-distant future. I am with people who are truly amazing in their caring of others and in their care of me. The culture may be different, and I may feel strange and under some wild expectations as times, but I am blessed to be here. (This doesn’t change the truth that I know I will be in despair again sometime soon, but for the moment, the Lord has given me this different, better vision.)
RESPITE: One of the things I have found hard the past couple of weeks is the lack of being alone. Everywhere I go, I am with someone. And when Dave calls me—it’s like I’ve asked for an audience. I can take the phone into another room, close the door, turn off the light, yet within seconds someone is there, sitting down, sometimes not even with a real reason to need to be in the room. I don’t get it, but it means that we literally have not had a conversation with him when I’ve been able to completely speak my heart. Well, that didn’t change today, because Dave hasn’t called yet and I have no minutes on my phone to call him and tell him I’m alone (somehow the 5,000 Ugandan shillings I had on my phone yesterday disappeared when a couple of people in the house asked to make a “couple” of phone calls) but Vena stayed somewhere last night, helping someone with a graduation party; Wilfred left this morning for whatever he does when he’s not helping me (probably paying kids’ school fees); Angel left mid-morning to pay school fees and whatever; and Florence left about one to work with Michelle Pagieu (she’s the Ugandan Orphans Relief Fund sponsorship coordinator, and she’s here on her ten-day trip to check on the orphans and deliver the sponsorship letters). So I have been alone with Patrick and Precious most of the afternoon. I’ve written a lot, read some, cared for the kids, and enjoyed having no one look over my shoulder as if I’m doing it wrong or strangely. Good to be alone.
FOCUS: I’ve spent so much time writing about this journey that I’ve neglected the book I’m writing, in part because the electrical current here is funny and I can only write when my laptop is charged, unplugged and running off the battery (hence, limited in its time span). But I spent some time today adjusting my settings and getting more life out of my battery’s charge, so that should help that issue. The main thing the Lord gave me today is a desire to use this down time to work on the book, to finish it possibly (if you’re reading this and thinking that’s a fairly ambitious goal, you need to know that I’ve been working on this thing steadily for over three years, and it’s several hundred pages long AND when I write “finished,” I DON’T mean revised and edited, just “all the scenes down on paper.”) It’s funny, I thought of this while I was back in the States, waiting for a court date, but then that faded in the hustle of getting ready and everything else. But now I will probably have more down time like I had today, and the Lord was good to give me the desire again. So good. A focus other than waiting on court dates and passports and visa interviews is GOOD—since none of those things are in my control anyway. And I am not to trust in princes, but in my God.