The Path to Discernment – Part 1
This is the first in a number of posts that will detail the process applied to making a big decision regarding Ioana. It is as much about God and me as it is about Ioana. If that doesn’t interest you then you’re probably better off not reading any further. So if you are still reading, know that you have been sufficiently warned!
I’ve been involved with Global Hope in one way or another since 2001. It began making a few short term mission trips. It evolved into living as missionaries with my family in Romania for two and a half years. The return home to our culture was a challenging one as we found our place again in the United States. But we found that place again and were pretty happy with life. Then God placed it on our hearts to try and bring Ioana here. She applied for a visa in 2010 which was denied. If you’ve been reading these blogs you know that God provided a way for her to be here the last six months.
And all along the way it has forced me to seek God out in a way where I can look into His heart. He knows my heart all too well; much too well. But darn it, I want to know more about His. My spiritual life is an up and down graph if you were able to look at it on paper. Without a doubt I leaned on God more heavily when I lived in Romania more than any other time in my life. I sought him out in the bible, in prayer and being more connected to my wife, Pam, than I had ever been in my life.
But after we came home, that utter dependence on Him waned. To be frank and honest, I find life in America at times very boring, mundane and just plain too easy. Even with the tragic passing of my father and a best friend this did not shake me all that much because I knew they moved on to a better place. And at times I envied them because of it. I have filled pages of journals over the years but found that when there just isn’t much going on that is too exciting you can only write so much about the morning temperature and days events. So, I drifted in and out of my life of journaling, prayer and devotion to God. The graph would rise and fall, rise and fall.
In 2010 when Ioana flew to Bucharest with my friend, Romica, I got out of bed in the middle of the night to pray. I sat in my loft, I prayed when I thought she would be interviewed and then at some point I fell asleep. I went back to bed and in the morning I got an email from Romi that her visa had been denied. There was no reason and the US embassy did not even look at the documentation we had provided supporting her trip here. I was mad, frustrated and confused. In the end there just wasn’t anything we could do.
My connection to God again moved down the scale instead of up. I found out recently that when Ioana went home after the disappointing trip she instead began praying that eventually God would find a way for her to get to America.
Fast forward now to this past fall when we found out that Ioana would be staying with us for six months. The timing was horrible! I was just coming off of breaking my neck back in August. Ben and Pam were fully ramped up with school, tennis and soccer. Financially, we are paying off hospital bills for both me and Ben that cover the last two years. And spiritually I felt completely unprepared to do this. This was something I wanted three years ago, not now! What was God thinking?
I knew from experience and past struggles that I needed to get my act together spiritually to be able to deal with the forthcoming challenges. I remember my good friend Roni telling me, “Nu va fi usor pentru voi sa faceti asta pentru Ioana.” (It won’t be easy for your family to do this for Ioana) I took those words to heart. Roni has more experience as a house father in a children’s home than any other man in Romania.
Each morning I got busy or I should say began my day less busy. Arise, brush my teeth, go downstairs. Feed the dogs, start the coffee, start the oatmeal for me and Pam. Sit down, open up My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, (dog eared, highlighted and marked up from years of use) open my bible (now digital on my phone), open my journal (still paper) and grab my uni-ball .7mm pen because I like the flow of gel ink from a broader point on the pages. Some days I sit and stare. Some days words come easy. Some days the prayers are simple. But each morning I seek one thing from God. Peace. I don’t care about answered prayers or requests. Some days I don’t even care about Ioana! God, show me a glimmer of your heart. Show me where I need to be first, before I step forth in the rest of the day.
After Ioana had been here our small group was meeting on a Sunday night. The discussion had to do with prayer, being less busy and how we pray. I shared that when I found out Ioana was going to stay with us that I needed to make some spiritual adjustments. I knew myself too well that if I didn’t lay down some spiritual groundwork I’d never survive what was coming.
A good friend, Liz, listened as I laid it all out there and confessed to some serious spiritual issues and connectivity with God. “Wow” Liz commented, “in 2004, you brought Ioana to God when she came to live at the Global Hope homes. (For she didn’t know Christ before coming to Global Hope), now in 2012, she is bringing you back to God.”
Liz was right on. Of course, I’ve never walked away from God but for sure I’m not always completely connected. I’m just like anybody else.