by Fylvia Fowler Kline
Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1, The Message.
When our family received a call to go to Nepal as missionaries, I said no. It was the worst possible time–My career that was perched for great possibilities would die; my son’s intensive piano lessons that were preparing him for a future in composition would be jeopardized; my daughter’s academic goals would be crushed; and my husband’s break from the for-profit business sector would make him less marketable when we returned. It simply did not make sense. But God knew better. His persistence grew stronger with my every objection. The signs I got would have put Gideon, Moses and Joseph to shame; yet I refused.
Then, one Sabbath, away from home, Roy and I opened the Yellow Pages to find a church to attend. There were many; so, we randomly picked one and began our drive. Less than three minutes on the road, I spotted a church and suggested we attend that one instead of the one we had picked. Roy refused (his Germanic genes do not allow changes in plans). Five minutes later, I saw another; Roy refused. Another ten minutes went by and there was another church; Roy refused. We were now late for the service.
By the time we got to the church, the sermon had begun. And I was furious with Roy. Just as we sat down, the minister said, “Faith is about setting out on a journey without all the answers to your questions.” Roy nudged me. My response was silence, but I could not help scribbling the quote in my Bible.
The trip back to the hotel was long and silent. I took a nap that afternoon to blot out the irony of attending that particular church and hearing that particular message. I woke up late, hungry and miserable. We ordered Chinese takeout and ate in silence. The meal ended and I broke open my fortune cookie. It said: “You will go to a strange and far away land.”
In that moment I imagined God smile and say, “Checkmate.” After six years of our mission service, life was just as I had predicted—my career took a dive. My son’s music career never happened. My daughter didn’t end up in an Ivy League school. My husband did not find a job comparable to his strengths and experience. Yet we gained more than we lost. Our journey of faith that began with a fortune cookie took us into an experience of complete trust in God. We survived political strife, physical hardships, poor health, emotional trials and dangerous conditions. Every day was an adrenaline rush of miracles, a continual supply of blessings.
When I was able to give up my vision for myself and obey God’s call instead, God’s plans became my plans, His desires my desires. And in Him, I found abundant joy even in the worst of times.