As we prepare to exit 2021 and enter 2022, I reflect on how much I have to learn.
- I have to learn how to deal with the bank and get our tickets ordered
- I have to learn a new language
- I have to learn how to adjust to a new culture
- I need to learn how to adjust to a new climate
Just for starters!
But there’s lots of other stuff as well. Perhaps one of the hardest is learning to receive.
Like many of you, I was brought up with strong directives towards work. It was a necessity as my family wasn’t rich and I wanted to have spending money and a car (and of course the insurance and gas costs associated with a car!). I started working when I was 15 and haven’t ever stopped. For many years of my life I worked two jobs. I paid my own way through my undergraduate studies. The American value of earning an honest living goes deep in me.
Even in seminary I worked full-time while studying. But even that wasn’t enough to cover all of our costs, and for the first time I had to learn how to receive. A wonderfully generous woman and life-long supporter of the church and seminary allowed us to leave seminary debt free – not a small thing in this day and age! I was of course very grateful, both for her generosity as well as for her gentle spirit I was privileged to get to know a bit over my years at the seminary. There were others who also assisted us financially during that time. But it was still hard to receive.
Now I’m having to learn this again. Relying on the generosity of God’s people is not an easy thing for me. And certainly I’m well aware that people are partnering with us financially so we can go out into the world where the Church and the Holy Spirit have Called us to do the work of the Church and share the love of Christ with others. Part of the difficulty of this extended time of waiting is feeling guilty that we aren’t out there, yet. Though it’s through no fault of our own, I still feel guilty that we’re here instead of there, waiting instead of sowing seed.
Not that the Holy Spirit is ever idle, and not that we’ve been idle either. But it’s still not where we want to be, where we’re supposed to be. And so I have to learn to trust the Holy Spirit’s timing in this arena as in others. Trust that perhaps there are good reasons we can’t go yet, even if we don’t know what they are this side of our Lord’s return. Trust that He is using this time of waiting to prepare us for what lies ahead. And of course trust that perhaps He is working in our partners’ lives as well, and that all of us together are learning about faithfulness in a time of pandemic and polarization.
I’m not much one for resolutions in the new year, but resolving to continue to hold fast to the promises of Christ – including his promise that we are never alone – is not a bad one. Thank you for your partnership. May it always be to God’s glory, now and eternally!