Filled With Challenges
Pam's email signature is followed with a phrase she often refers to:
From a distance it looks like an adventure ... up close it is filled with challenges
|My life partner & friend in our adventure|
Life is a big adventure filled with subordinate adventures. Family, school, marriage, vocation, children, relationships, vacations, transitions of various types .... all are adventures with individual textures like snowflakes and fingerprints. No two are alike. The adventures are classified under a single category, but each is distinctive. God prepares a custom adventure suited for each of us.
How do people survive or enjoy adventures filled with challenges without faith?
Not many will find their lives requiring living on two continents, ten thousand miles apart, like Pam and I do. There are unique challenges we face because we spend half of each year living in an undeveloped nation. Others can imagine the challenges from a distance and consider them adventures. We live them. How shall we then live?
I could go on and on, but I've run out of time. There are so many more ... Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets ... Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves ... There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection ... Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours. (Hebrews 11:32-40) MSG
|Friends & sisters|
Our plan is often not God's plan. We would not allow, in our plans, some of those challenges God allows. I would leave out growing old! But, there are so many experiences of my past that were not a part of my plan. Pam and I never dreamed of going to Africa to mentor young adults. But God did. His plan has been revealed to us by installments. He continues to unveil it. It is an adventure filled with challenges ... all with the opportunity to face them by faith and look for His intimate presence through each of them.
One of our current challenges came with some warning. Dr. Nancy Salisbury, Pam's OB/GYN, told Pam a time would come when she would require a hysterectomy and repair of a prolapsed bladder. This year, while in Uganda, we realized that the time had come. Somewhat familiar with medical resources in Jinja, we encouraged one another to diligence, during our upcoming short time in the States, to get the surgery done by Dr. Nancy.
|Dr. Nancy and Pam|
Pam has never been this way before. Historically, new experiences are not something Pam looks for. She has preferred the predictable, but our adventure-filled-with-challenges has altered her. Her surgery is schedule for next Tuesday, October 25th, at 1 PM. Yesterday we met with Dr. Nancy and Providence Willamette Falls Hospital to set arrangements in place.
The morning arrived draped in the warmth of peace and filled with anticipated favor from God. As we meet together before the sun rose in the East, we shared how relaxed we were in spite of the known and the unknown related to this upcoming surgery. Anxiety was not evident although the nurse at Dr. Nancy's office referred several times to this surgery as stressful. As Pam and I accumulated some elements of this challenge we realized that God was our Ever Present Help in time of need as we faced it. Among others, here are some of those elements where we could sense the face of God within them.
- Before we left Uganda our daughter Stephanie volunteered to confirm an appointment for Pam with Dr. Salisbury soon after are arrival back in the States. She helped this major event fit into an already filled calendar before our return to Africa.
- As people in Africa and America became aware of the upcoming surgery they began to take us before the Lord in prayer. Their prayers explain the favor we sense from the Lord going into this challenge. We love hearing from them, telling us that they are praying for us. It reaffirms our belief that we are not on this journey alone. God is with us.
- A friend of Next Generation Ministries from Oklahoma, Karen Neufeld, recently passed on a devotional to Pam when we were there last week. God placed this small book in Pam's hand so that she would read "Go gently through this day, keeping your eyes on Me. I will open up the way before you, as you take steps of trust along your path. Sometimes the way before you appears to be blocked. If you focus on the obstacle or search for a way around it, you will probably go off course. Instead, focus on Me, the Shepherd who is leading you along your life-journey. Before you know it, the obstacle will be behind you and you will hardly know how you passed through it."
|Pam with Karen & Leon Neufeld|
- A letter from the hospital informed us they anticipated our bill from it to be between $25,000 and $35,000. The letter also underscored their policy to demand half down prior to surgery in the case of "self insured" patients. Pam and I are subscribers to a medical share program that shares the cost of medical needs among its subscribers. Another friend of NGM had casually offered to give us a short term loan if we needed it while waiting for our "insurance" to pay our bill. In less than 30 minutes after a phone call to this individual, $13,000 had been directly deposited in our checking account.
- Dr. Nancy declared at the beginning of our appointment with her yesterday that she was a woman of strong faith. I inquired just as directly if she was born again and she responded emphatically "yes." She told us that our experience should be ordered by the Lord and that each detail should be preceded by dependence on Him. She promised to pray with us before she did the surgery next Tuesday.
Adventures do not and should not be traveled independently on the journey through them. For people of faith, the story of the adventure is not really their story, but HIStory. Whatever the outcome, the challenges faced are opportunities to trust the Lord. God's timing is perfect, as is His provision, in each adventure ... as experienced by Abraham and his son Isaac by the ram caught in the thicket at their time of need (Genesis 22). We don't always find that the "ram" is the "ram" that we anticipated in our plans. But, it will be the one we need for His glory.
And now you know some of the details of our current challenge. Informing you of them allows you to be a part of the adventure.