Friday, November 27, 2009
I Can't Help Myself
I just can't help remembering. 20 years ago, I was sitting on a "Big Iron Bird" in the middle of a 22-hour + adventure, making my way towards my new bride-to-be and two beautiful little girls who knew me at the time as "Daddy Sam". After a summer of challenging ministry, a conviction that the Lord was changing my ministry focus and unexpectedly falling head-over-heels in love in the Philippines I returned the the U.S. with an unrelenting drive and determination that I would get back to the Philippines before Christmas. As a seminary student with no job, no house and a really, really beat up car, it seemed improbable that I was in a position to get married, let alone support an entire family, but when God opens a door he also provides what it needed once the threshold is passed!
There was quite a bit of concern that I had bitten off more than I could chew. My mentor's wife asked me with great concern in her graceful Southern Bell style, "Sam, I concerned about you Dear. How are you going to support a wife and TWO children?" I didn't know the details, but I had spent literally every day of my life since my 5th birthday praying for the Lord to lead me in my choice of a wife and now His guidance had led me to Luz. I didn't know the particulars, but I knew I would lead me step by step and He would provide the way.
My presence on the plane was proof that the Lord WOULD make a way. On the heels of returning from the Philippines, I had just raised support for a pretty costly mission trip and here I was convinced that the Lord wanted me to return to the Philippines in less than 4 months. A dear Brother from Brazil gave me some great advice - "Sam, tell the people you know what you honestly believe the Lord has done, and what you believe he is doing now. All the while work, pray, plan, do all you can, but leave the results to Him. If it's truly His will, you'll be on a plane by December." In the last week of November 1989, I was on a Northwest 747 headed for Manila. I can't help but remember how the Lord provided.
I can't help but remember thinking about those two little girls and how my dearest friends worked so hard to help me to communicate my love to them. These friends had helped me make some flip page picture books with sound for the girls describing life in South Carolina as well as helping me make some cassette tape recordings of children's stories Like "The 3 Little Pigs", complete with sound effects and supporting cast voices. Our dorm mates got more than a few laughs listening to us make silly voices and use sound effects from our record collections to simulate the Big Bad Wolf blowing down houses! I'll never forget the HUGE hugs I received from my girls when I got back to Manila and how my friends' support had helped me to connect just a little bit closer so that I could lay a foundation for the family God was building.
I can't help but remember waking up after my first night back in the Philippines in a mission house surrounded by missionaries from New Zealand who had heard bits and pieces of the story of how Luz and I met and who were so gracious in offering encouragement and support as brothers in the Lord even though we were so newly acquainted.
I just can't help but remember feeling the Lord's peace as a coup attempt erupted 2 days after my arrival and I politely declined an invitation to leave the Philippines until a "safer" time arrived. I remembered being told that there is "No safer place than the center of God's will." As planes flew overhead and shelling was audible in the distance, I knew what God was doing, and new that he would see us through.
I just can't help but remember the joy I felt as the 4 of us stood together in a Manila park and a friend took a picture of us as night fell. God had answered the prayer of a lifetime and an abundance of prayers for daily guidance, and I was right in the center of His will, enjoying the fruit of His provision.
Over the next month, I'll be sharing my thoughts of this special time of my life. Anniversaries are designed to help us to remember times of great importance and to reflect on the impact of those times on our lives. At the 20-year mark of my amazing life journey as a husband and father, I am compelled to remember a time when God blessed me in such a powerful way, that even the gleanings of that wonderful life harvest are producing more fruit than I can contain. I hope you'll indulge my testifying of God's greatness to me through this life changing time. I'm sorry, but I just can't help myself. I hope you'll remember something wonderful that God has done for you and perhaps feel moved to some spontaneous praise too! Until next time...