Well Here We Are And There We’re Not – DEPARTURE PENDING

Friends, I find myself writing in the living room of our apartment here just north of Atlanta. My wife just cooked a delicious meal, and our son is playing with toys in his room. In just a bit, we will have family devotions, and then our son will go to bed. We plan to follow suit shortly after. Just a regular Monday for us. Nothing to see here.

While that may not seem worthy of mention, as recently as eight weeks ago, that is not at all how we imagined today to transpire. Just two months ago, we still thought that on this day, Monday, May 11, we would be boarding a plane and leaving for the mission field. Or in our case, returning to the field. We thought that the last nearly five years here in America, the last nearly three years of deputation, and the last few months of final preparations would finally all wrap up nicely today and that we’d be on our way back to the other side of the world.

However, within only about a week’s time back in March, it became clear that that is not what the Lord has for us today. Even a week or so before coronavirus locked down things here in America, both China and Taiwan had locked down access to foreigners for the foreseeable future.

Admittedly, it’s been a tough few weeks. Life during lockdown has been interesting and challenging in and of itself, but beyond that we’ve been given a surplus of time to think on what today was supposed to be (in our estimation) — but isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong; we know that the Lord is in control. We know that no virus has ever caught Him by surprise. We know that kings’ hearts are in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth them whithersoever He will (see Prov. 21:1). We know that He could open up China and Taiwan tomorrow.

We are learning, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). We are learning to wait on the Lord. We are learning to wait on His timing.

We have a slew of reasons to want to be back in China no later than yesterday. Selfishly, we want to get back to the Chinese way of life. We want to see our family. We want to meet up with friends. We want Chinese food at our fingertips. We want to make good on our promises to our son to let him experience all of the above.

In the perhaps less selfish category, we want to tell Chinese people of the love of God in Christ. We want to use our training to boldly proclaim the gospel and start churches. We want to see many Chinese men trained for full-time gospel ministry. We want to do all in our power to make the Name above all names known in China because He is worthy.

Despite our reasons, we trust Him. We trust in Him. We trust that He has His reasons to put us on standby. We trust that all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28). We trust that He is a sun and shield: He will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11).

The One with the power to prepare us has the right to pend us. The One who has readied us certainly can retain us. The One who has helped us along these last few years can certainly hold us up for a few more if He so chooses.

We are His, after all. His workmanship. His servants. His messengers.

We wait on His signal. His moving. His timing.

Friends, please join us in knowing that the Lord is good. He is faithful. He is wise.

Friends, please join us in praying that He would open China and Taiwan to us soon and continue to ready us in the process.

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