Unintentionally, our weekend ended up having a theme. We talked about Moses and how he could have stayed in Egypt and been very comfortable with his life; he had wealth, royalty, and anything he could want materially. Moses could have also lived out his life in Midian; working for his father-in-law, cozy with family, a life of simplicity and rest.
Instead, Moses took a formerly enslaved group of whiners into the desert for 40 years. He dealt with pain, fear, loss of dreams and expectations, and unbearable people. He also saw miracles, he received the Law, and heard the voice of God. He watched God take a disjointed people and create a chosen nation.
“Since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deut. 34:10)
Sommer, Jasmine and I talked about our desires for our own life. Have health, wealth and comfort in "Egypt"? Live peace, rest, hole up with family in "Midian"? Or be willing to experience the desert, walk the valleys and expect mountaintops- to see the face of God?
We walked away from the weekend with our own ideas of how God might take us through the valleys and mountaintops to truly experience Him. (Oh, the irony that the place we stayed is called "Desert Canyon"...I'm wishing it was called "Exhilarating Mountaintop".)
Now a year and a half later we might laugh about that conversation... but more likely we would all cry.
I could list all the wild things that have happened that are beyond coincidence but describing our outward circumstances can't capture what God has been establishing in the depths of our souls.
I could share that Jasmine and Lance adopted from Ethiopia (they began that journey within a week of our girl's weekend) and that they have had a wild ride as Lance has been in school for firefighting while working full-time. You would commiserate in hearing about arriving home from Ethiopia to have 5 sick children (ages 6 and under) with vomiting, diarrhea, parasites, and fungus. But none of that can capture the way that God is using an abandoned, broken little boy to expose things to Jasmine about her own weaknesses. It wouldn't tell you how specifically God has spoken to her and how hard she's had to wrestle.
I could tell you about Jordan and Sommer's journey that ultimately brought them to the end of their rope to pack a suburban and relocate to Arizona. Jordan leaves in a few weeks to train across the country for the U.S. Marshals. It's been a year of depending fully on Christ, of uncertainty and waiting on her knees. But the circumstances are small compared to the internal surrender, the transformation in who Sommer is. She has been brought to the end of herself in more ways than she could have fathomed when we were sitting in the sun a year and a half ago.
Then there's me. I struggle even writing because there is no way to articulate the yielding, the exhaustion, the loss of dreams, the cost, and then the voice of God. It is much deeper than not having a salary, moving back to Lynden, having our own adoption continually postponed, starting over in everything from our finances to our marriage.
When I chose obedience and surrender over comfort or quiet, I admitted to Sommer and Jasmine, "I know I don't know what I'm asking for. I know I should be cringing at what might be to come."
Yes and yes.
I told my dad recently that being in the valley makes me think, "I wouldn't wish this on anyone" while simultaneously thinking, "I am so sad for anyone that hasn't had to abandon themselves and hear the voice of God so clearly."
Would I change my circumstances? Absolutely. I'd put in my order right now! However, I would not change what God has exposed in me. Some days I wish I could go back to being the girl who cried every few years or so...instead of every few hours. (It is astounding how when God allows your heart to break in one area, it begins to break for everything...even areas I was apathetic about previously.) Never have I understood so clearly what Christ did on the cross. Never have I understood that it is under his mercy that I wade through the mud so that I can know Him more. Never have I craved heaven so much.
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart- these O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:12, 16,17
One of the biggest graces in my year has been having a sister and cousin journeying with me. To call and say, "Can you believe my crazy life!?" To spontaneously break down in tears and need no explanation, or to drop everything to help with another move. In the midst of it all we have been blessed- we now have 10 children 6 and under, after all!