I thought I had it down, this stepping out of a place of security and learning to trust God. But apparently it’s not a lesson you pass once and then get to move onto the next subject. For me it’s a lesson to learn over and over. This was the discovery I made this week, when I went to renew my Passport.
When I opened the gold embossed cover, I discovered my 12-year-younger self, unlined forehead sweaty from the summer heat, eyes squinting anxiously at the camera. The photo was taken two weeks before I was scheduled to leave for East Africa with Ruth, the 2-year-old abandoned child who my husband and I hoped to adopt from a Ugandan orphanage.
I was terrified of traveling alone and didn’t want to go, but I knew that if I didn’t Ruth would likely spend the rest of her life in an orphanage. For Ruth I packed my bags and boarded a plane to the other side of the world, unsure of the outcome.
As someone who hasn’t traveled much since getting married and having children, I found it ironic that the last stamp in my Passport was from my whirlwind week in Kenya. Now here I was, these twelve years later, standing before a white screen in a convenience store to have my passport photo taken again, this time to travel and share about Ruth’s life.
Rather than youthful insecurity, my new photo expresses the weight of loss – not just physically, because grief and aging and too many treats will do that to you – but emotionally and spiritually as well. There is a heaviness in my eyes, a dark cloud of understanding that was not there before.
Once again, I’d rather stay safely cocooned with my family than travel to destinations unknown. Once again, I will likely be called to go alone. Once again, fear creeps in at the corners of my mind. But having loved Ruth and met so many children like her – with broken families and broken bodies still waiting to know that they are loved – I know that my going is more important than my desire to stay.
It’s hard for me to leave my family. Hard for me to board a plane and shoot through the air like a human torpedo. Hard to trust God when I know that my comfort and physical safety are not guaranteed. But because the mission is more important than me, I’ll go anyway.
“Where shall I go from Your spirit, or where shall I flee from Your presence?” The Psalmist writes of God in Psalm 139 (MEV). In the heavens and in the depths of the earth, God is there. At the end of the sea, his hand will guide me. He makes even the darkness – the frightening and hidden and hard things – to shine like day.
And so, once more I choose to trust.