I think that God is always asking if we trust him, we just don’t realize it. For some it’s already become so intertwined in their lives that for them it’s a natural order in their decision making process. These people no longer struggle with handing things over to him. They simply pray for his will because they’re confident through their faith that he will prevail. (well, they make it seem as if it’s easy)
Others like me, find it challenging to let our illusion of self control go. We think that it is by our own might that we progress in life. When God asks us to let go and to trust him we begin to question everything especially him. (Answering the question of trusting God has become a little easier to answer. Only because he has shown himself to be trustworthy. Humanity believes that God has to prove his worthiness of our trust.)
Three years ago when he had blessed me with this opportunity to go on this missionary encounter trip I was fearful to place all my trust in God. It’s taken me that long to realize and learn that I’m building a relationship with him. There did come a day when he didn’t have to ask me if I trusted him, I would simply ask him to test me. Now I look forward to new challenges and obstacles, but 3 years ago when everything was new, fear was around every new experience.
After being on a medical leave from work for over 4 months, I returned to work a couple of days ago. I tore the tendon in my elbow and was unable to lift anything. Something as simple as driving became painful. I didn’t have surgery, instead the specialist gave me a cortisone shot and physical therapy and released me to return to full duty. (I’ll let you know how that works out in a month or so.)
Upon returning to work, you have to be re-trained in some safety procedures before stepping a foot on the ramp. I’ve been working on the ramp for almost 18 years and under normal circumstances I feel comfortable working around the organized chaos of the ramp. I’m very confident around the running engines of these machines coming toward me. I trust that most of my coworkers are working safely and are also confident in their surroundings. I trust that everything will work as it is meant to.
Yesterday, my first day back on the ramp was different. I felt fear. I can’t explain it. I was still retraining so I wasn’t part of a crew, but after performing some tasks, I felt nervous.
I’m not sure what I’m afraid of. I think I’m afraid of re-injuring myself. I think once I’m back to my daily work routine I’ll be fine. It just unnerved me feeling fearful out there. I have to get over this fear to be effective out there. I don’t like to feel fear.
Well, the day arrived that I needed to fly out to Los Angeles to meet up with the ladies that I would be traveling to Thailand and Myanmar on a missionary encounter trip with. Interestingly enough, my voice had become raspy about 3 days before leaving for LAX.
On the day of my departure, laryngitis had uncomfortably set in and I had no voice. As I waved goodbye to my mom and 2 daughters I started to feel uneasy.
I hate flying. I work around airplanes yes, but when the door closes on that aircraft, my life is in someone else’s hands…up at 37,000 feet in the sky, with no parachute and impossible odds of survival. BUT! I love the science and technology that it takes to get these massive machines in the air and keep them there for thousands of miles and several hours. I love the fact that I can travel to almost anywhere in the world on my benefits because work…I just hate to fly.
So as I went through the security check point and proceeded to the boarding area I started to get nervous. Of course, everything went well. I arrived in LA safely, my bags arrived with me…I was on my way.
Only, after I got my bags and headed towards the phone to call for my hotel shuttle to come get me, I realized there were two foreseeable challenges. First, there were 2 hotels with the same name. I didn’t have the actual address for the one I was staying at. The second challenge was that I had no voice and couldn’t call anyone because I wouldn’t be heard.
I sent my eldest a text message and had her contact my group leader, Chris and explain my situation. It took a while, messages were going back and forth. It didn’t help that my daughter was at work and I had to wait for her to go on her break. Finally my daughter had cleared my situation and Chris, our group leader sent the shuttle for me and anxiously waited for me at the hotel.
Fear began to creep in. In the 15 minutes that it took for the shuttle bus to pick me up and drop me off I had began to get cold feet about getting on a couple of airplanes and flying for 18 hours. I knew that there was no turning back now even though I was still in the US.
When shuttle came to a stop and as the doors opened, I saw Chris standing there smiling. She had a beautiful smile and her excitement exuded from every pore.
“Hi Nora! It’s so great to finally meet you, ” she said as she hugged me warmly. “I spoke to your daughter and she told me everything so I won’t make you talk. You can come sit with me as we wait for the rest of the ladies to arrive.” She led me to the hotel lobby where she offered me orange juice and tea.
As it turned out, some of the ladies had arrived the previous day and had gone to a museum for the day. (Museum? I love museums…I wondered if this was an indication of what these ladies were like.) Chris continued to share a little bit more of my travel companions. Her warmth comforted me and all I could do was sit across from her and smile.
When the last woman arrived two and a half hours later, the lobby was full of chattering ladies. 16 of us were there, we would meet our last companion in Thailand. Virginia and her husband had won a trip to hike in Thailand and would stay on to meet us and continue to Myanmar.
I looked around the room and hid my total surprise. I was the youngest of the group. All the ladies except for one seemed to be in their late forties to late sixties. I kept smiling because my Lord has such a great sense of humor. Who on earth was going to protect all these older ladies amongst the protesters in Thailand? What would happen to these ladies if we were arrested in Myanmar? Suddenly I was rethinking my decision to go on this trip.
Chris divided us into pairs. We were assigned a roommate for the night. We retreated to our rooms to relax and get ready for dinner when we would formally meet each other and enjoy our first meal as a group.
I went to my room. My room mate was there. We introduced ourselves. Janice was from the midwest. She shared a little about her family, she was retired, this was her first missionary encounter trip. She seemed nice. I introduced myself. Much to my surprise, I could whisper just enough to share my name and a few details of my family.
Janice left the room for a while. I took advantage of the time alone and started taking pictures of myself and my stuff, writing in my journal and posting thoughts on fbook. When J returned, we went down to meet the others for dinner.
I couldn’t help but think about all the ironies and surprises I had experienced in just the few hours I had been part of this group. God had told me to be quiet and be still, I had lost my voice so now I didn’t have a choice but to literally be quiet. I still didn’t want to share about my brokenness with anyone, but I knew that at some point I was going to have to start talking about myself with these ladies. I was uncomfortable meeting people, in particular women because I felt inferior to their expectations, and I was in a room full of ladies that were so excited to have me there amongst them.
We proceeded to the restaurant that was next door to the hotel. As it turned out, it was a greek restaurant. Out of the 16 of us, 6 of us had eaten greek food before. For the test of us it was our first challenge.
It was like information overload, but an amazing thing began to happen. Until dinner, I was wondering if this was a joke from God. These ladies were all older retired ladies. There was even one woman who used a cane to help her walk. How could he possibly allow this group to go on a trip that could become dangerous? Hadn’t he promised to lead me to a place where I would come face to face with him? How far out of my comfort zone was he planning on taking me?
As I reached out and questioned him in my mind, one of the ladies would answer the questions I had asked as if I were asking them out loud.
At one of the woman’s conferences I had attended with Sharon and my mom, one of the speakers, Christine Caine had spoken about how we disqualify ourselves from God’s blessings way before we have even received them. She went on to say that we convince ourselves that we can’t or won’t be successful in situations where God purposely places us. In our minds we’ll make lists of reasons why we will fail, not trusting that this is part of God’s perfect plan.
I was disqualifying my group based on what? their ages? their appearances? what the media had said would be our obstacles? my insecurities? my lack of faith?
At some point before we even opened our menus I accepted that God doesn’t make mistakes and that all of us there were chosen to be there.
The waiter seated us and handed us menus. The names of all the dishes were in GREEK! I laughed on the outside and wanted to panic on the inside. Was this any indication what was coming?
Dinner would turn out to be amazing.