David and I had planned our trip to the USA since the beginning of the year. We had bought tickets and confirmed some ministry engagements. We were so looking forward to our time together. Little did we know that there would be some unpleasant interference.
In May, I went for my USA visa interview. Sadly, it was in the same week that Boko Haram had dominated international news, a high-profile case of abduction of over 200 girls from a rural school. Coincidentally as I sat there in the Consulate waiting for my turn, the video of the Terrorist Leader of the group was being shown on the screen on BBC. I remember feeling very sad and awkward that evil was reigning freely in Nigeria, and World Leaders are playing catch up.
My name was called and I proceeded to the window where I spoke to the Consular Officer. She asked me questions regarding the nature of work that I do, and my extensive traveling. I confirmed that most my travels are for religious purposes, and I speak to large groups. She was pleasant. She explained that they would need more time to process my application. This means they will need to run some background checks on me; to be sure I will not be a religious threat in the USA I guess.
It totally makes sense in hindsight, here’s an applicant with 4 previous passports, extensive record of traveling, been to the USA more than 5 times and there’s the news of Boko Haram playing in the background as we spoke. What if I was on a mission to go and incite the churches in America to get involved? I think the suspicion is reasonable.
The down-side is that David and I are left with some serious change of plans, a possibility of losing my flight ticket and also being away from my husband for a while. We prayed, others prayed and we waited.
Fast-forward, David flew out a few nights ago, and I’m still here waiting for the background check to be completed.
Usually when we are faced with a challenge or obstacle, our hidden, negative beliefs about God and life start to show up.
In the past, I would have gone the following route:
Self-doubt: What did I miss? Why didn’t I have enough discernment to book my interview date earlier than when I did, etc. Is God pleased with me? If He was, He would have worked everything out miraculously?
Question God’s faithfulness: As I wrote in my book, Crossing Intersections, I questioned his faithfulness in the past when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted. We believe in principle that God is faithful but when confronted with a challenge, we sometimes silently question why He is not faithful in our situation. We question His faithfulness when we do not get the outcomes that we want.
I am so aware of the fierceness of the enemy with suggestions when things are beyond our controI I intentionally blocked the door that may lead to any of those dis-empowering thoughts, and chose to dwell with thoughts that would challenge me know God better and know myself better in the process.
Here are some of my reflections that I would like to share:
- Everything happens for a reason – This is true but the reason may not always be revealed to us, we should be OK with not knowing the reason why. Sometimes it may never be revealed on this side of glory. It’s about trusting that all things work together for good, whether we understand it or not. I need to trust His plan and His timing, even when it is not in-line with mine.
- The law of cause and effect – I’m reminded that all of my actions have consequences and effects, and sometimes it will be felt miles and great distances away from where I am. For instance, an act of abducting girls is causing another person in another country to be investigated based on her religious work and traveling.
- Faith to move mountains – When my faith prayer for the mountain to be moved is not working, perhaps it’s time to let “trust” step in. Faith is about “actively asking” while trust is “allowing” the process to unfold in a way that I may not prefer. It is about being open to the outcome, and it requires some measure of faith to do that too.
- I don’t’ like it – It’s OK to trust God with the process, and still be honest enough to tell Him that I’m not enjoying it at all. In my humanness, I’d like to fly next to my Beloved but with divine perspective, I trust that God in control of our scrambled travel plans.
- Beyond my control – I’m reminded that being a Christian doesn’t always mean that you are in control of the things that happen in your life, this helps me not to feel terribly disappointed. It also means that as a Christian, I am not immune to challenges, the difference is in how I engage it. Character is tested when things are not working the way I want, and I CAN choose upfront if I want to pass the test or not, and I choose to pass this test.
- Perspective – this episode has put a lot of things in perspective for me: How much I love and miss my husband, this gives me a chance to miss him and measure how much he means to me. I’m also reminded of how fragile our plans are as humans, and to be more grateful when things work out, rather than take things for granted. I’m also finding a sense of gratitude that this is just a change of plans, nothing fatal or terminal or life-threatening.
- Thinking of others – My initial reaction was: Look what these Lunatics (Boko Haram) are causing me. Then I found myself thinking more of the families of the girls that were abducted, the mess they are experiencing, and the heartache. I started to wonder that perhaps, my going through this delay is not so much about me but rather an invitation for me to experience in a tiny, microscopic way the level of disruption that these families are experiencing. I said to myself, if losing my ticket of over R10, 000 is just so I can share in the pain of my fellow countrymen, then it’s all worth it. My situation pales in comparison to their pain, but I can sow the seed of my delay and disruption as a point of intercession and prayer for them.
Thanks for reading. I’m still going through the process, and hopefully there will be more to write as the episode unfolds….