It happened rather innocently. In a moment when I wasn’t looking for it, when I stopped searching, seeking and crying out in desperation. I was walking along a stony path along the river where two of my ten children were playing on a bamboo raft.
These were the middle children, tucked between the grown adult siblings and the affectionately called, “Littles.” Now strapping young men in their own rite, I smiled as they coordinated their efforts to move the 14 ft bamboo raft down the river.
In that moment, an illumination came. A still small voice that answered the question that had been plaguing my mind for months. “Simple, next step obedience,” the voice seemed to whisper, “the same way you got here, my child.”
And it’s true. We certainly never set out to have ten children. In fact, when we were first married, we thought maybe we’d just have a dog and two careers. But then the “baby bug” bit, and before our first anniversary we welcomed our first born son.
Still there was never a “big plan” decision to have a large brood. The steps of our life have never been clearly written out in advance.
I like plans. I’m a planner. I also like to control things. My entire adult life has been an adventure in learning to trust and obey and give up my desire to plan and control. Little by little, bit by bit, always at the right moment and rarely before… the Lord has faithful ordered our steps and made our path in this world.
We never planned to be missionaries. We thought it would be a good idea to raise kids who served the Lord, perhaps vocationally and even cross-culturally, but not for one moment did we anticipate His call to “Go!” would fall on us.
So as I continued up the rivers edge, my five youngest children playing joyfully and noisly in the river and among the “rapids,” I was reminded once again that the plan is revealed in the next step, in the simple obedience to do what He has asked us to do today.
That big plan, the big reveal that I’ve been waiting for… is probably not going to happen. Instead, He’s gently calling, leading me to follow Him in the day to day and trust Him for the big picture.
My heart has been burdened lately with lack of big picture plan. I thought maybe by now, it would all be falling into place. Friends of ours moved here, in another part of the country, about a year before our arrival with the big plan to build an orphanage and start a church. Both those dreams have been realized, the church is small but growing and the orphanage is already in need of an expansion. We knew that outreach in a tribal setting needed a slower pace, that in order for real, life transforming and sustainable change to happen, the road we would need to travel would not be the high speed highway. But sometimes I feebly take my eyes off my Savior and look around and wonder, “Am I missing something?”
Yet if you had handed me the drawing board 24 years ago and asked me to write my story, you’d be reading a far different novel. As I pondered the beauty of my family, the joy of a large brood, the precious relationships born out of homeschooling and now sharing the trials and joys of cross-cultural ministry together, I realized that while I might be a pretty good writer, the Author and Finisher of my faith does a far better job creating my story than I would have.
And so, the Heavenly Father answered my question about “plans” with a sweet, quiet assurance that far surpassed any disclosure I had hoped to hear these many months.
“I’m still here, still weaving together your tapestry. Don’t worry about the how, the why, the when or the where. Just do the next thing and trust Me with the details.”