One year ago today, my little family of five (with Lucas in the oven) landed in Tenerife with just our 12 suitcases. We were a bit jet lagged but full of anticipation for this new journey God had brought us on. I wish I had taken a picture of us in the airport with our bags, or us upon arrival, but apparently I had too many other things on my mind :-) (but, if any of you from MBC who were at the airport happened to take pictures, I'd love to get them!)
Elijah's eyes went haywire, Lucas had RSV for 3 months, and we've all had our fair share of colds, strep throat, migraines, and stomach bugs. Our van has taken up residence in the mechanic's shop (living there about 50% of the past year). We've had to learn to live "quietly" with four children next to a neighbor who wants silence at all times. I've struggled to control my post-pregnancy hormones, especially when applied to our new habitat, and in response to four cute, cuddly little sinnerling children. I've NEVER in my life been so painfully aware of my propensity towards anger, especially in response to my children. I daily have to battle having a right response in all of the split-second occurrences that demand my attention. We've also struggled to reconcile our expectations for how we'd like to spend our time verses how we are supposed to spend our time during the first year (going to driver's school, studying language and culture, etc).
But, I can say this has been one of the best years of my life in this- God's Word promises that trials produce endurance, and endurance makes us more complete- more like Christ. One thing that has been so heavy on my heart the past couple of years is seeing so many people walk away from a relationship with Christ. In our post-modern culture, we seem more prone to elevate our own thoughts and understanding above what is clearly written in the Bible. I've wondered... what keeps someone from abandoning their faith? Who can endure until the end? Well, for the first time in my life, I'm understanding James 1, and why I can and should count it all JOY when I face trials. Why? Because it produces ENDURANCE. And endurance, when it has its perfect result, will make us PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking in nothing. Too often I wish trials away instead of staying in them, quietly, expectantly, waiting for God to do the work in me He set out to do. When life is easy, and we're never sick, and our car never dies, and our kids are always perfect, and we can go to Walmart and buy whatever our mind can imagine, and our home is SO comfortable, and the bank account is full--- then we should be FEARFUL! In those times, it's to easy and natural to turn our dependence from Christ and see our sufficiency in our self. Our muscles get soft, our hearts get weak, and our motivation to get of the couch to run dwindles. We won't endure. We will lack much and be marred by imperfection. I'm preaching to the choir here, and I hardly have responded with joy in each of our trials. But, after one year of seemingly constant trial, I am beginning to understand how and my I truly can count it all joy.
I hope that one year from now, I can write about year two, how it was so full of great ministry moments, people turning to Christ, spiritual growth, etc. But, that is up to God- and I will chose to be content with whatever kind of year He brings. As Hudson Taylor said, God often "wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade."