Here I sit all these miles from where I began–closer to the West coast than the East, a ‘landed immigrant’ in a country I knew nothing about growing up, a wife to a humble man of great faith, a mother of six (one gone ahead to glory), a grandmother to four, a friend to a smattering of persons all across both countries, and still a homebody.
In many ways I was the least likely of my friends to head off into the horizon, leaving our tight knit community of faith for a bigger world. We thought we had a corner on church and holiness and ‘missionary work’. Why leave? But my mom had a subscription to this little magazine called “The Overcomer” from Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada. And she was the dreamer, not I.
I suppose she was a bit of a schemer too. For she noted that Prairie also had a boarding highschool. Recognizing this as an opportunity for me to grow beyond the confines of my cloistered life, she got ahold of an application and sent it to me while I was away on a summer missions trip in Alaska. [That trip in itself was testimony to God’s quiet but powerful moving on a willing heart. He gave me the ‘want to’ in response to a testimony I read and He paved the way!]
Anyway, my mother sent me this application to Prairie Highchool, told me to pray about it, and left the decision with me.
Wow. I remember sitting down with that paper, in the wilds of Alaska, overlooking a beautiful still lake that mirrored the surrounding mountains… thinking, and praying. Summer was almost over and we teens were eager to trade pup-tent living for home. I had never been away from home for so long. Now this. If the school accepted me I would have only a week or so at home before the school year started. And I had never even seen the school! But I was willing…
Well, my story has been one of the Lord working in my heart to make me willing to do things beyond what my personality would suggest as feasible, and then going before me to make them possible. On the drive back to the mission base in Florida at summer’s end (Yes, we drove in an old school bus all the way from Florida to Alaska that summer!), our bus broke down in Alberta, at none other than Prairie Bible Institute. One of our leaders was a student there and made arrangements for our team to be housed on campus while the repairs were made. I ended up not only seeing the school, but meeting the principle and handing in my application in person. Within weeks I would be back, on my own, to join the Grade 12 class.
This is not a biographical sketch so I will spare you all the details of how I adjusted to that big change. I include this account because for me it illustrates the way God has directed my heart and my steps all down through the years. He knows the good works He has prepared for me to walk in. And He knows the people and experiences He will use to refine and sanctify me. And at each juncture He first shapes my desires to fit His, and then fulfills them. That has been my experience. A host of life-changing events followed on the heels of my willingness to leave the familiar home of my childhood.
*Not only would I never return to live in NJ (other than a summer or two and some holidays) but my parents would make a major move and commit the rest of their lives to missions work, first in Florida, and then, in Alaska!
* During a stint in the infirmary that last year of highschool I would resolve to get into Bible translation with Wycliffe, but first to enroll in Bible School.
* God used even my inhibitions to direct my steps. I chickened out of signing up for a 4 year program because I couldn’t imagine writing an extensive thesis paper. Enrolling in the three-year Biblical Studies program meant I got plunked a year ahead of my age-mates, into the class of a certain red-headed, freckle-smattered fellow with deep brown eyes and an inquisitive nature. We ended up together in Greek class. Quiet little me among just a handful of girls in this male-dominated class couldn’t help but be seen. This was God’s doings.
*Since we were both going the same direction—into Bible translation work, we joined hands and went together. I had not dreamed of being a wife and mother; I thought myself content to be a single-woman missionary or perhaps a librarian. God had other plans. I needed this man’s God-confidence, his easy-going nature, and his love. And I needed the blessing of children to save me from self-absorption!
I could run on about the life we’ve shared, the places we’ve been, the things we’ve done and experienced, but the point of our story is not us! We could talk about ‘missions’ a little and about homeschooling, and about ‘serving God’, but in fact, all the while it has been God at work in us to do His good pleasure. Far more than anything we have thought we were accomplishing for Him has been what He has done for us in the process of these years of attempting to follow His leading. Over and over He has demonstrated His love for us, far more than we have shown ours for Him.
But a testimony is not meant to be about bygones. What is my testimony to God’s grace today? Do I know Him better today than I did a year ago? Do I love Him more wholly with heart, mind, soul and strength today? These are questions that challenge me lately at this strange in-between time in our lives–with family life and home behind us and uncertainty ahead. In the end it will not so much matter what we have accomplished with our lives but how we have loved.
This is really the essence of my testimony thus far: God so loved me… that He invested Himself in my life so that I might know Him and learn to love Him with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. What started with the sacrifice of His Son for me continues day by day with the offering of His Son’s life to live for me, in me and through me by His Spirit. And by that Spirit He whittles away to perfect the design He had in mind for me from before the foundation of the world–to look like His Son.
By that same Spirit God’s love is made known to this ego-centric heart of mine day by day and I am humbled, realizing I have nothing to offer Him that He has not first given me. I only love because He first loved me. I only begin to know Him because He has revealed Himself to me in the person of Jesus and in this Word I am privileged to read in my own language. In the end there’s nothing to boast of but what He has done.
God’s plans for me have been far bigger than any I would have dreamed up. And they will culminate in a glory yet to be seen! Thanks for joining me on the journey
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Is.64:4 NIV
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”– the things God has prepared for those who love him– 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
I Cor.2:9,10 NIV
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed– I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.” Is.43:12 NIV
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. II Cor.4:5 ESV
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
II Tim.1:12 KJV
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3
FYI: More tidbits of my life story can be found under the “My Story” tag below or by clicking HERE!