2011: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

We passed over the ocean yesterday, passed into a new year, and are passing into a whole new chapter in our lives. When we got to the Guest House in Ethiopia (basically a hotel where we stay), I signed us in and was surprised to see the dates we were “arriving” and “departing”: 1-1-11 and 1-11-11.  It’s a year of firsts as well.  We are excited to see what God beholds for our family and our community!

As most of you know, there is some trepidation for this trip in that we never truly received “confirmation” of our Embassy appointment on Jan 5.  We were told there “should not be a problem” and that it happens that way sometimes (see our past blog entry).  We have to acknowledge in writing that we are taking a risk in coming, yet we still have to come or we will miss our Jan 5 appointment.  It is our choice, but do we really have one??

Then, right before we passed through airport security in Peoria on Friday, we got a call from our agency to tell us that there is another piece of paper that the Embassy wants that is in Ethiopia and “should not be a problem to get on Monday or so.”  So even more turmoil in the pit of my stomach.  I’m a pretty practical person, for the most part, and common sense tells us this is a “crazy” way to spend our time, energy, and money if we don’t even know for sure how things will go with the Embassy.  But we walked through security and got on the plane.

We flew up out of the stormy darkness (literally—that was the day we had tornadoes and 60 degree weather on New Year’s Eve!) and above the clouds into the beautiful sunshine.  I got my Bible out to continue in my reading in Isaiah at chapter 60.  I noticed that the sun was beaming through the window right onto the pages.  Then I read this:

“Arise shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isa 60:1-3)

I thought, “Oh, that’s cool.  Thank you, God, for this special little gift of sunshine in my life, far above the storms below.”  But then I continued:

“Lift up your eyes and look about you;
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the arm.
Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.” (Isa 60:4-5)

Tears I wasn’t expecting came streaming down my face, as they are right now as I write this.  Who am I, that God chooses to give such specific comfort to??  Some may doubt that this was a “Word from God,” but I believe that He was reminding me of his promise that he made to me years ago and He is continuing to work out now.  He will see it through—He is forever faithful!  So I will not give in to fear or doubt him.  I will trust him, even when things don’t look like they are going like I thought they would or should.  I believe that, still in His timing, we will bring our “son home from this far land” and our “daughter in my arms”!  “Joy will radiate out of me and my heart will swell” as “many will assemble” and come to us at the airport (and later at home) after we bring our little “riches from across the seas” home forever!

Thank you, Lord for your Word of Encouragement to me!  I trust you will do YOUR will in our lives and that no one, not even government officials, can thwart your plans because, as you say at the end of this chapter in Isaiah:

“I am the Lord;
in its time I will do this swiftly.” (Isa 60:22b)

Thanks to all who are praying and following us on this journey.  May you be encouraged as well of His eternal faithfulness.  I do ask, please, that you would pray that we will find out Monday morning that all is well with the Embassy.  I will trust Him no matter what happens, but I will be able to let my heart truly live this experience better knowing that we are bringing these children home at the end of this week!  Tomorrow afternoon we are supposed to go get them and they will be with us for the remainder of our stay here in Ethiopia.  But it would hurt my heart if something went wrong with the paperwork and we were not able to keep them after they lived with us for a week!  Even if it was a matter of timing and we had to come back again, I can’t imagine how that would affect the kids, feeling abandoned once again.  So it is difficult to let my heart fully attach when there is the slightest possibility that we might not bring them home this week, and mostly difficult to think what that would do in the kids’ hearts.  I am not doubting God’s power and will, but I cannot proclaim to fully know how He will enact His will either.  Whatever happens, we pray He is glorified!

As I continued in my Isaiah reading later on another flight, it seemed fitting that I was next in Isa 61:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” (Isa 61:1-2)

I know these Holy Scriptures were written to the prophet Isaiah, not to the prophet Suzanne.  I know there is context to these verses that goes far beyond what we are doing in a small home in a little town in central Illinois.  But I also believe God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword,” and it has pierced my heart throughout this journey. These are not words He has spoken only to the Gowin family.  It is clear all throughout Scripture that it is His divine will that His people lift up and care for the poor, the brokenhearted, and the prisoners, as in Isaiah 61 above.  God may or may not be calling everyone of His people to adopt orphans, but He IS calling everyone of them to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in the strangers, clothe the needy, look after the sick, and visit and encourage prisoners who are in all types of slavery (see Matt 25:31-46).  It is my prayer that this year, 2011, will be the Year of the Lord’s Favor—that God will glorify Himself and do countless acts of justice and mercy throughout the world by working through the lives of all of His people.

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