Well, it’s 2012—and for me, the countdown is ticking. God-willing, my family will toddle, wheel, walk, and drag itself into six plane seats bound in an African direction on January 30.
In my otherwise vacant living room (oops! Except for kid debris) are piles of duffel bags stuffed within centimeters of their life. We’ve got passports with varying degrees of attractiveness. We have been immunized against some of the world’s nastiest diseases. We are packed in, cleaned out, and getting ready to say some big goodbyes and serious hellos.
But some things are staying the same.
Yes, God is doing masterful works in me, helping me to slowly battle my anger issues, my insecurity. But when I’m fighting against that part of me that believes God’s lucky to have me on His team, I have plenty of evidence to help me recall that this is His work. His greatness. Not yours truly. I’m sure it has something to do with snapping at my kids, or about the same old patterns of people-pleasing (as opposed to God-pleasing). That’s especially when I feel out of control and am grasping for solutions to the faithless fear that clenches my chest.
My kids decided they would go ahead and keep fighting and experimenting with attitudes, with some isolated incidents of blatant disobedience. My heart has confirmed that in Uganda it plans to be as much of an insecure martyr with an anger problem as it has had in the United States. As my stress has elevated even higher than normal homeschooling-mother-with-toddler levels, God’s made it clear that I am still at the core a deeply sinful, albeit redeemed, missionary. No matter what crucial part of His Body we play (and they’re all important; my status has not suddenly become more valuable), it’s Him who is creating something beautiful through each of us.
God confirmed that this past October. I’d taken my mom out for her birthday: falafel and jasmine rice at this great new Mediterranean place with only a handful of tables. It was on our way to Barnes & Noble afterwards that I saw the headlights in my peripheral vision. I gasped. Braked. Then braced myself as a Corolla barreled into the front of our van. (Barreled it off, it turns out.) My head and shoulder hit the door. We spun about 90 degrees.
In all the ensuing chaos of metal, lights, and paperwork, little gifts from God began revealing themselves. They piled themselves around us in so many heaps, starting with my mom and I stepping out of the van, virtually unscathed.
But my greatest revelation didn’t show itself until the next morning. I was attempting to explain to my grandma the damage to our van: how it had shook and lurched when the tow truck separated the two vehicles so crunched together, our grill and fender now gone, wheels cocked sideways. (The speed limit on the cross road is 45.) I told Grandma how I braked, and then…
What if I hadn’t braked?
That smashed front end that groaned when it was separated would have been—my door.
I had not just walked away unhurt. I had walked away alive.
In a split second, God had possibly saved not only my health, but my life. Mine. God seemed to make it very generously, kindly clear that He still has plans for me here on terra firma. In this whole journey to Uganda, I have increasingly felt like a spectator, in a good way. God’s plans seem to whirl around me in gracious and powerful ways that open my eyes to how I am part of His plans, and not the other way around.
Becoming an overseas missionary has been an opportunity for God to look me in the eyes and say, Hey. Just want to remind you that I am doing a good, mighty work in you—emphasis on the I—for my own Name’s sake.
2011 was a new and unique worship experience. And it galvanized me, getting my heart ready I hope, for whatever lies ahead in 2012.
For His Name’s sake, and by His grace—bring it on.
Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!