It would never have been in my plans to make an international move pregnant, but that is exactly what I did in the fall of ‘99. When I was thrown into the newness of being a first time mama six months later, I was still wrestling to grasp a language as different from English as possible, learning how to lead a ministry alongside my husband, and finding my place in a new culture.
I was swimming in transition.
My love for our host country, coupled with a deep need for external validation, drove me through the spring to squeeze life out of every hour: studying the language while our son napped, taking him with me to meet students, our team passing him around as we met and planned. I once nursed him with one arm while wiping a poop explosion off the wall with baby wipes so I could finish in time to meet a student for discipleship.
I wanted to do it all. Six months later, I was overwhelmed.
That fall, I was still helping my husband lead a ministry team, and coaching two of the women on it. I was leading a Bible study with five students, discipling each of them one-on-one, and one of them was my language tutor. Then, our son became mobile and I knew something had to give.
I’m exhausted just remembering it.
In my desperation, I cried out to God, and He led me to Jeremiah 6:16. It reads,
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
When I read that, my soul ached. I longed for that rest.
Throughout that fall, I asked Him to show me the good way, and how to walk in it. Slowly, He opened my eyes to my pride in trying to be unstoppable and unlimited. He helped me see that I had come to that place because I had followed my own ambition, not His voice.
He led me to wise women who helped me evaluate the wisdom of each activity, and prayed with me over what to let go. By the beginning of the next semester of the school year, I knew what He was asking me to pass on to others, and was surprised to find greater effectiveness in a lighter load.
Each time I face again the uncertainty of a new season, and I am tempted to run ahead, filling my time with what feeds my ego more than my soul, I am reminded of this verse.
It tells me that He knows me. He knows both my gifts and my limits, and how to give me a fruitful place in the midst of them.
He knows my way. He knows what He wants to do in me and through me in each new place.
He knows the path that leads to grace and rest. I have only to ask and obey.
Whenever my life shifts, this truth calls me to slow down and humbly, contemplatively, listen for His voice guiding me to paths of life. Stand, look, ask, walk.