We sat in the dark sweating and awaiting power to be restored. Power cuts happen often around here in the heat and with the weather pushing 104 and lots of folks using electricity it was to be expected. I could see J—nodding his head in the darkness, “that’s it Abuk”, he said.
We’ve been in a bit of a hard season (for a few years now actually). Each challenge resolving or letting up only to find another challenge awaiting us. Life has a way of doing that to you I think. So we cut everything back that we thought we knew and decided to start from scratch. My husband cut out all activities for a few weeks but physical exercise, time with family and devoted prayers and devotions, I reshifted and re calibrated my responsibilities to focus more time in prayer as well. We had been talking in the dark room (I am a verbal processor) when a compilation of scripture, truth and the nudging of the Holy Spirit brought stark clarity. “We are confusing what we do with what we want to be about…the means to the goal is not the goal itself, just a means.” I exclaimed, this is when J– nodded his head and agreed, “that’s it Abuk”.
Another bead of sweat dripped off my face and we realized in our hearts that it was true. Here we were feeling utterly defeated because we were not “doing” what we wanted where we wanted but our “life goals” the answer to “I/We want to be about…” had not changed or shifted, just the means. But a shift had happened within us, we had shifted into believing that the means to our goals were the goals in themselves.
The power flicked on with a jolt and the AC units begin to hum and the battery backup stopped beeping. We pushed aside all the how to’s that we had expected our year to be about(as best we could) and examined simply the goal itself. We identified four things:
1) Love God
2) Love family
3) Serve others
4) Serve the Church
We each had swirling ideas about what this would look like, expectations awaiting us like creatures lurking in a dark corner ready to pounce and hear us cry in defeat at the many ways our unspoken expectations had let us down. But if, through the Grace of God, we looked at our goals alone, we find that there are so many ways to achieve each one. I think expectations can blind us sometimes and make us believe that the expectation we have is THE ONLY WAY to reach the goal, but often it is just one of many.
This year we were feeling defeated we were planning on loving God and our family and then serving others through women’s bible studies and water quality in Melut. We were excited to partner with our local church there and each of those expectations we literally could not achieve, it was as if all our goals that we had prayed about and worked toward had been sabotaged. This emotion was real but the truth behind the emotion was wrong, it wasn’t that we couldn’t reach the goal, merely to route looked different then we had thought to get there.
Both of us long to return to our home on the Nile. We both believe we will be able to one day. But in the meantime it is not as if we are stalled on the road of life and can no longer move forward, upward into what God has for us, just that in this season our road looks different then we thought, but it is still leading to the same place.
Here we are, students, we walk the same route each day, we pray for and with the people we come in contact with. We buy food from the same people on our routes and slowly are building relationships. It doesn’t look like water quality and women’s bible studies, it looks like vegetable ladies, praying with my teachers before class, entering academic dialogue with classmates, cooking food for our elderly neighbor and going out of our way to greet the stationary store owner nearby. It means going to rowing club in the morning to connect with youth, staying late at the kids school to talk to a mom, and so many little things that are a part of knowing God and loving Him more.
So when the power suddenly flicked back on we felt like a breath of fresh air had passed through the room, it was probably just the air conditioning turning on, but it was as if we had been given fresh eyes to view this season for what it is, a different road on the same journey to know more of God, to love our family deeper, to serve others and empower the Church.
We’ve been on this journey of life together as husband and wife for 9.5yrs. We’ve added five kids to the journey and we’ve lived it out now in four countries and there is great peace in recognizing that the twists in life are not always us going backwards, but working us toward our goals in a different way then we had ever imagined. It might have just been the AC turning on but a breath of understanding and contentment fled our prayers when we were able to release our tightly clutched expectations for our lives and focus on being faithful to what God has for us for this season.