"Not this year," I heard the Spirit say.
So, I put it in "ink" ---
"Deborah, vacation May 25th - June 1st"
And in truth, I didn't think anything more on it at the time.
Come February, my daughter was preparing to study abroad (summer) as part of her college education and had to apply for her passport. Once again, the Spirit spoke up, "Get yours prepared." What? Graciously, He repeated, "Get yours prepared." Somewhat stupefied, I did as He asked. Short of His request, I didn't have a reason, and He didn't give one.
All the while my mind was keen on knowing why.
My "vacation week", turned out being midway through my daughter's study abroad program, and I innocently thought, "Oh, You're going to let me go visit her!" But every time I went online to check airfare, the Spirit clearly said, "No." I stopped trying the doorknob after a few times.
At the end of February, the grace at work began to lift. And I found a job listing I felt perfectly suited for (that included a good bit of travel.... ergo the need of the passport, right, Lord?), so I applied. The short of that is the Spirit said, "No." I stopped trying that doorknob, too. (Passport "mystery" still at hand.) However, He did make it clear I was to resign my position, effective date ....my birthday (beginning of June), as Director of Human Resources; a position I had succeeded in and a position my boss/owner was not wanting me to resign from. The day I handed in my notice was surreal. "Care to share what You are doing, God?" Silence. Keep in mind, I did this with the full knowledge we still have obligations....like kids in college!
In April, the Spirit said, "Africa." Excuse me? "Africa." You want me to go to Africa? "Africa," He said for the third time. Mind officially blown. It had been an exasperating four months to my humanity for numerous reasons, but THIS. Curious tidbit between myself and God: I have told Him since He first captivated my heart, "You can send me anywhere ...but Africa." Yeah.... point taken.
I know distantly two people in two different countries on the continent of Africa. As the Lord saw me weigh this, I heard Him say, "Valerie."
So on April 22nd, I wrote Valerie a private message through Facebook. I knew Valerie because I had attended church with her some seventeen years back before she moved to Africa, but I didn't know-know her at all. I can only imagine her thoughts as she read my note that started off, "Val, hold your breath while I try to lay out something not even I know in full...." But that same afternoon, she called me, and we spoke for an hour. The end conclusion: I was heading to Africa at the end of May for reasons not known to either myself nor Valerie. (Thankful for saints such as Valerie who also hear the Lord and obey without needing His reasons explained.)
I remember hanging up from talking with Valerie and bracing as I looked up airfare AFTER committing to Him, "Africa it is". At this point, I knew there was no point of reason I could offer that would dissuade what He was so clearly laying out.
The airfare, that I secured that afternoon, turned out to be completely covered by my vacation pay. Gobsmacked. Valerie reports that in her seventeen years of travels to and from the States, she has NEVER heard nor seen airfare for the price I paid, stating the lowest she had ever managed was $500 OVER what I paid. One could say it was another sign in the right direction, but at this point, the need for 'signs' had long since passed. (There is a song near to my heart I think on even now as I write, "Don't ever let me lose my wonder..." And thus far, He hasn't. ♡ )
On one weekend in May, I sent my daughter off on a plane for her study abroad. The following Friday, May 24th, I worked my last day as Director of Human Resources for Chick-fil-A. And on May 25th, I boarded a plane... to Africa.
(To be continued.....)
"God Sustains His Servant"
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in Him.
Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders You have done,
the things You planned for us.
NONE can compare with You;
were I to speak and tell of Your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
*but my ears You have opened*;
burnt offerings and in offerings you did not require.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come -
it is written in the scroll.
*I desire to do Your will, my God;*
Your law is within my heart."
I proclaim your savings acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord, as You know.
I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and Your saving help.
I do not conceal Your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord;
may Your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
"The LORD is GREAT!"
For me, I am poor and needy;
think on me, Lord.
You are my Help and my Deliverer;
You are my God, do not delay.