Today is the day I leave. The day I begin a three-day trek from Lancaster to Philadelphia to New York City to Dubai to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The day I say goodbye to Mai and the kids. The day I say hello to a new group of blogger friends and a whirling mass of traveling strangers and a country full of people who will undoubtedly change my life.
But I can’t stop thinking about this summer and what a difficult journey it has been. We arrived home from our four-month road trip and in many ways it felt like the bottom had fallen out of my life. I had no new writing projects lined up (ie no income). We were back in my parents’ basement, trying to figure out where we would live. One of my children struggled with anxiety and I found myself frustrated and short-tempered with his questioning, his doubt, his uncertainty – yet I found myself asking the same questions.
Hello, God? Remember me? I’m the one with a wife and four children? The one you sort of convinced to go on this crazy, once-in-a-life trip? The one you brought safely home? Yeah, I’m home now, and I don’t have any money and work seems to have dried up. Does this situation ring any bells with you?
And the summer passed. Slowly. June turned into July turned into August. I turned down a job at some point in there, but as the summer passed it seemed like one of the most ridiculous decisions I’d ever made.
Wait, the voice kept saying. Wait.
So I waited. Impatient some of the time. Angry most of the time. Hope got mixed up with despair, like the beginnings and endings of summer when you can’t always tell it from spring or fall. Was I coming or going? Intensifying or fading? Planting or harvesting?
Then three days before leaving for Sri Lanka, I got an email from a potential client.
“Good news on this cloudy Monday – the project has been approved!”
* * * * *
Sometimes life feels like a handful of dice thrown into the air, its outcome determined by the random result of their configuration. But very occasionally I recognize a more deliberate hand at work – like going on a four-month road trip and attending a conference held by a friend I met after my business went under and at that conference meeting another friend named Matthew who a few months later asks me to go on a trip I wouldn’t have been able to go on if I would have said yes to that job I never would have needed now that this project has come through.
“But dad, what if you aren’t here when I wake up in morning,” my child asks me, eyes tearing up, hands holding tightly to a blanket pulled up to cover his mouth. “What if you don’t come to pick me up after church? What if you and mom forget about me?”
And it’s strange that it took me so long to recognize myself in that line of questions.
God, what if you aren’t here for me? What if you forget me? What if you leave me?
* * * * *
I’ve always know the phrase that God “will never leave you nor forsake you.” What I often forget is the context of that wisdom in Hebrews:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can mere mortals do to me?”
So I set out for Sri Lanka, some questions answered, others lingering. I still don’t know as much as I’d like to know. I still clutch at promises the way a child clings to a blanket.
Today I leave for Sri Lanka, and I’ll blog about the trip for World Vision as I witness for myself the way that child sponsorship changes lives. I’d love for you to join me – all you have to do is show up here from August 25th through August 30th.
In the mean time, please consider sponsoring a child through World Vision. For around $30 a month you can change the life of a child and their family. Find out more about child sponsorship (and check out my cool landing page) HERE.