MOVING FORWARD COURAGEOUSLY.
I just finished reading an interesting book titled ‘Crossing Intersections’ by Grace Samson-Song. ‘Crossing Intersections’ is about learning to recognize when you are headed for a major transition in life and how to navigate yourself safely through life’s intersections.
As I read chapter three, ‘Signs of an Intersection’, I honestly got freaked out and a little paranoid! “Has this author been secretly spying on me?”, I asked myself. In that chapter she list seven key signs that serve as a warning light that you are headed for transition. It freaked me out because for the past five years I had experienced all seven signs. Frustration, Confusion, Anxiety, Increased Alertness, Feeling Overwhelmed, a general Sense of Loss, and a Hunger and Desire for More. This is a book I should have read five years ago. Let me explain.
My wife and I had been working as Missionaries on the University Campus for the past 10 years. We were living the American dream. We had a new house, three amazing kids, and loved our career. Deep inside of us though there was a stirring hunger for more. We had always sensed that we were called to work overseas and we had a strong desire to serve orphans and the poor. One Sunday we were at church and the guest speaker was sharing about his ministry to North Korean Orphans and the orphanage that he started in China to serve these beautiful children. At that moment something in us lit up! We were sure that this is where we wanted to go serve. To prepare to go overseas we decided that our first step should be to get out of debt. So, we both picked up a couple of extra jobs to really attack our mountain of debt.
Honestly, I can’t remember much of that year. I was literally in Zombie mode. I was no good to my wife, my kids, or the students on campus. Two good things that came out of that year; we became debt free and our beautiful daughter was born. In the midst of that year we were also making plans to move to China to start working with the orphanage. God had other plans though. It literally felt like God put His hand down and said “Not this way.” Immediately, all of our plans began to unravel. That is when confusion and anxiety set in. You see, we had already put our house on the market and started putting our earthly possessions in storage to prepare for the move. Now what do we do? What do we tell our financial supporters? We were in limbo for a year. A year filled with stress on our finances, stress on our marriage, and feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing for and leading my wife and kids. I began to question everything. I struggled with depression and even my sense of purpose in life. I began to entertain other options for work, but none of it brought me life or a sense of increased passion.
One evening, I was talking to my wife about everything that we had experienced in the past year. I remember her being so excited and me being so annoyed that she was excited. Why couldn’t she just wallow in the mud with me?! She then began to tell me how she had read on Facebook that one of her college friends had just recently sold all that she had and moved to Kenya. My wife said, “We should just sell everything and go!” I definitely did not have the faith for that right now. That was absolutely crazy and made no logical sense. Turns out, she was right on as usual.
The next day I had a major phone interview with a Church in San Francisco. I had applied for their Youth Pastor Position and out of a couple hundred applicants it came down to me and one other guy. They explained to me over the phone that if all goes well the next step would be to fly me out for the final interview. Of course I nailed the interview and was feeling pretty good about it all. I recall telling my wife, “Honey, everything is going to work out! I nailed the interview and I am confident that I will get the job. Everything will be set for us before we even move out to California.” As soon as the words slipped out of my mouth I heard God clearly whisper, “That wouldn’t take much faith now, would it?” As soon as I heard that, I knew I did not get the job. Sure enough, the next day I get a call from the Pastor telling me they have decided to go with the other guy. I asked him if there was anything I could improve on in the interview process to help me next time. He said, “No, we loved you! Your interview was great!” He then began to explain to me their reasoning for not offering me the job. Their reasoning was actually full of foresight and in my best interest.
That’s when I realized that my wife and I were at the intersection of ‘Faith’. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Man may plan his ways, but God directs his steps.” Our intersection was ‘Faith’. God was busy fulfilling the desires of our heart, but He was also busy teaching us to ‘Trust’ Him on a whole new level. Just so you know, we made it overseas! We are currently in South Africa ministering to orphans and the poor. We are having an amazing time building new relationships and learning to continue to ‘Trust’ God through the good and the bad times. That is why I appreciate ‘Crossing Intersections’ so much, because it offers practical advice for the numerous amount of times in life that you find yourself at an intersection. Each time is a time for growth.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is found on page 59, “Every intersection offers an invitation for growth and to move forward courageously.” So, if you find yourself stuck at a major intersection in life, do yourself a favor and read ‘Crossing Intersections’. As you read it you will be encouraged to know that you are not stuck, but you have been given an invitation to engage in the process of growth and are called to courageously move forward.