Thursday, February 2, 2017

What do you need to remember?

Upside down.

Inside out.

I had turned my heart and my dreams upside down and inside out in order to say “yes” to God and move to Africa, far from my kids—and from future grandchildren I was sure would join our family soon.

Originally I had strongly resisted the move but over time, God helped me believe His dreams for me were better than my dreams, so my husband Dave and I set out for Africa—I was willing to go even though my heart felt shredded.

After only four months on African soil, I’d fallen in love with the place and her people, and Dave and I eagerly embraced our new ministries.

And then it happened.

We received word our first grandchild was on the way. The news ripped open my recently-healed wound and broke my heart: I didn’t want to miss out on knowing and enjoying my grandchild!

Suddenly I doubted, I questioned: Why, God, did You have to send me so far from home?

But then I remembered.

With a leaden, hammering heart, I took a deep breath and remembered:

I had given God many months to clarify whether He wanted us to move to Africa, and He said “yes.”  Only “yes.”

And I remembered:

On our way to Africa, we had spent a few days in England in an old World War II barracks. A poster in our dorm room displayed Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping…will return with songs of joy.”

I pondered those words at length because I didn’t know what they meant for me specifically, but I did understand about tears—I had shed so on my way to Africa because I couldn’t see our kids, and now our new grandbaby, for four long years.

But what about tears turning to joy? Could I believe it? Would I believe it? Would I believe that God could turn my tears into joy?

I thought about it for a couple of days and then, there in our dark little barracks room in England, I stood before that poster and told God I’d give Him time to show me songs of joy in Africa. (from Grandma’s Letters from Africa, Chapter 3)

Four months later in Nairobi, with news of my first grandbaby, I did what Priscilla Shirer said: I raised my hands in surrender to my God, trusting Him for His best outcome for my life and that of my kids and grandkids.

I lifted my heart to God and recommitted myself to living where He placed me and to the role He had for me in Africa as well as in His larger agenda.

I told God, yet again, that I’d give Him time to turn my tears to joy.

Some of you have had heartachesall because you said “yes” to God and His purposes. Initially you had set out with conviction and enthusiasm, but then something happened and turned your world upside down, and maybe you questioned God and doubted your decision to go where He pointed you.

What do you need to remember today?

Think back on your conversations with God—and write about them.

Remember how He confirmed His direction for your life—and write about it.

Remember what you committed to Him, and remember the Bible verses that inspired you to make that commitment—and write about all that.

Remember your joy in setting out—and write about it.

Remember all the ways God walked hand in hand with you when you stumbled through rough spots, through dread-filled times, through your anguish—and write about it.

Remember raising your hands in surrender to God, trusting Him for His best outcome for your life—and write about it.

And remember the ways He brought you to a new and good place—and write about all of that.

And take joy in your writing!


  1. Ahh, this is exactly what I needed to read today! I have been agonizing about whether I am in the right place, and how life will proceed from here, whether I need to change where I am . . . and you have reminded me to trust. God has seen me through tragedy and brought me here, and I can deal with whatever happens, because I know I am supported in love beyond what I can see. Thank you!

    1. Oh, Samantha, I'm so pleased to hear from you. But my heart is also heavy when I read that you've been agonizing about such important questions and wonderings. God has indeed seen you through tragedies and made you into an increasingly beautiful person, and I know He will walk forward with you, step by step. May He comfort you and give you ongoing hope! Thanks for stopping by, Samantha. Let's keep in touch.