Time in the Biblical Stories of Faith
As we read stories in the Bible, we often don’t think about how the characters processed their years of waiting. We read it quickly for devotions giving a passing consideration of what they may have endured.
It was almost 25 years Abraham waited for Isaac to be born. Moses waited about 40 years before going back to Egypt to set the Israelites free. Joseph spent around 13 years between being a slave and in prison before his dreams even started to make sense. David had to wait about 10-15 years after Saul anoints him king before actually becoming king.
God’s path to His promise takes faith and perseverance. If we think about the daily battles each of these stories faced to maintain belief in the promise, we start to understand how this could begin to apply for us. I’m going to share a personal story in light of this. Please know I am not trying to equate my experience with theirs, however, I do hope to encourage you in your own life of faith.
Backdrop of My Recent Faith Journey
In October of last year, my family came back from China to recruit more people to join us in our work to help keep teenage orphan girls from human trafficking. We had a fast-paced year up to this point. We had over a hundred short-term volunteers come through working on service projects at our location. Eight volunteers had stayed a month or longer. And to cap it all, we had two orphan girls come.
It had been an exciting year that seemed to come to a quick halt after July. Our steady flow of help ceased. The orphan girls that had come to the farm decided to go back to their hometown. After several months of trying to keep up with what God was doing, we suddenly had plenty of time to evaluate and plan for our future.
One thing we felt God was saying to us was that our team was to be mainly local Chinese.
Walking Out the Life of Faith
Coming back to the U.S. didn’t seem the wisest place to recruit local Chinese. Originally we were to go to another city in China to recruit. We had tickets and made plans to go, yet a couple days before leaving, we felt God say not to go. It wasn’t an audible voice or even a definite word. It was just an impression, but that impression was so strong our entire family and board felt it would be disobedient to go on the trip.
We then thought it would be good to join a large sending organization with roots in China. This would put us in the pipeline of potentially hundreds of volunteers who knew the language and culture. We applied and were accepted, but then felt there wasn’t a green light. It felt our attempts to obey the impression of hiring local staff was being blocked by the Lord.
The Walk of Faith Sees Many Doors Open and Close
Before we left China in the fall, we had met and formed a good relationship with a local Chinese couple. They loved each other, desired to help other people, and were trained in the counseling profession. We felt they may be a perfect couple to lead any staff that we may get.
As they prayed about the decision and talked to close friends, they also felt a connection with us and what we had started. While we were back in the US, we communicated back across the ocean about how this may work. After a few false starts, we identified what this may look like…, and they immediately pulled out. Six months after a bustle of activity, it felt as if the whole thing may be coming apart.
During this confusing time, we felt God was asking us to stay in the States. Now we didn’t have a plan for how to go forward, and by not going back to China, we felt our vision of helping orphans would die.
The Pain of the Life of Faith
For the whole time in China, following this dream to help teenage orphan girls, we have tried to follow God’s leading. He has had us do crazy things, but through them all we always seemed to be moving forward. This time looked and felt different.
As we prayed we didn’t feel that it was over, but we couldn’t see how to continue it. We have spent our savings. We were moving back to somewhere with a higher cost of living. How to move forward wasn’t clear. God, what are you doing?!!!
Following God doesn’t guarantee comfort. The life of faith relinquishes the right to understand what and how God will move forward. You know God is good. He will meet all your needs. But, as the journey continues you could very well find yourself screaming at the sky wondering if what you believe about God is really true.
God Working Behind the Scenes
For most of this month, I was back in China taking care of some business items. I met up with the couple who had been interested in joining our work. They have been going through a back and forth with God as He has been talking to them about working with orphans. They had been moving from helping us at our farm to wanting to make the farm a place to help orphans.
The end result looks similar having them come to our farm to help. The ownership of their desire in the work has increased dramatically. There has been a change from friends helping us out to partners wanting to co-labor with the vision.
Takeaways About the Life of Faith
The struggle with the life of faith is that God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t do things like we would. It is hard to plan out what the next year will look like because He may want to take you on a detour.
Constantly fill your mind with God’s goodness and find millions of things to be thankful about. These reminders fight off doubt and infuse you with hope for what is ahead. God is good. He is working out the details of your faith journey. He wants to see you succeed.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. He loves it. But, it also reminds us that He is there with us in the journey and that He rewards those who seek Him. The reward is there. It is promised.
Currently in Our Life of Faith
So, this couple is now living at our farm in China. They are preparing themselves to be ready to receive the orphan girls by studying up, planning procedures, and, what is faith stretching for them, building a team. We know they will be good at it.
My wife and I are in the States. Our role is to mentor, advise, and coach them in this process. We are also raising money and awareness for the work for it to continue.
If you, your church, or civic group is interested in learning more about the dangers facing these teenage orphan girls, how little is currently being done, and how they can help, please reach out to me in the comments. I would love to talk about options of how you can help, which regular prayer is greatly appreciated. The greatest is awareness and prayer.