When God Gives You Extraordinary

Seventeen years ago, two kids met at Capernwray Bible School in a small farming town in New Zealand. It was at this school that our love for each other, our love for Jesus and our love for traveling the world grew.

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Although much has changed over the years (like growing kids and growing waistlines), our love for these three things hasn’t. But life happens, doesn’t it? We’ve traveled, but it was always embedded in our hearts to spend a large chunk of time abroad with our children. With a 12-year-old, it has felt like time was running out. We were living to pay our bills and it was killing us. So, we began to dream of what it would look like to live fully alive and fully awake — living with our hands and eyes wide open. Things began shifting in our hearts. The things we thought we wanted didn’t seem to glimmer quite as much any longer. We began dreaming of a simpler life. We began dreaming of a bigger adventure. We said this would be the year we would search for extraordinary. And this would be the year we shifted our priorities.

We had no idea what that shift would entail.

This January, we sat our kids down and asked them what their dreams were for our family.

“Do you want the big house, with the big yard? Or do you want the world?”

We realized we couldn’t have it all. And we had to surrender our small-minded ideas of what we thought our life should look like and what we thought we deserved.

In unison, they all cried out, “We want the world!”

I’ve told you how God sold our house this past January. And I told you how the people who bought it needed us to stay in the house until August. Did I tell you that Ryan applied for a masters’ program here in Arizona? We were so sure that he would get in. His advisor told him it was a sure thing. But he didn’t get in, and we were devastated. I had given up my house. I had done my part. I had showed up. But God hadn’t. At least that’s what I believed for about five minutes (okay, it was longer than that by about a lot). What was he up to? What was he doing?

We sat in this space where there were more questions than answers. This space where the path isn’t clear and the passion starts to fade. I call this the space between. The space between surrender and deliverance. The space between trust and answers. The space between the leap of faith and landing safe on the other side.

It’s in the space between that we are faced with questions. Is God good and does He even care?

It’s in the space between where doubt festers and joy fades.

It’s in the space between where wonder if it’s really all worth it in the end.

It’s in the space between where we decide that we are going to keep surrendering even if deliverance doesn’t come. Where we decide that we’ll continue to trust even if we never get the answers. And where we take the leap of faith knowing that we’ll land safe in His arms.

We decided to keep surrendering, to keep trusting and to keep leaping…And we did land safe in His arms. But in His wild grace, He gave us exactly what we asked for… just in a way, place and time we weren’t expecting.

We’re celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this summer. We aren’t the same two kids we were 17 years ago. We’ve added a few kids, a few pounds and a few heartaches to our family. But in God’s sweet tenderness, He’s leading us back to the place where it all began. We are so excited to announce that we are heading to Capernwray Bible School in Australia with our kids in tow. We will be there for 10 months working with the students and helping in various areas at the school. Ryan will be working on his Masters in Sustainability online. And I will get to teach the Bible at the very place where I learned to study the Bible! Oh, and guess what? We just happen to be leaving two weeks after our lease on this house is up. Oh, and there happened to be a sale on airfare and we bought tickets for a ridiculous price. And God provided the money for our tickets —  2 dollars more than what they cost.

Is it scary? You betcha. Our middle schooler is missing a year of school and a year with her friends. But she’s searching for extraordinary right beside us, and she knows that sometimes extraordinary comes at a cost. We’ll live in a small apartment where our kids will have to share space and time. They will leave most of their toys and belongings behind. But they are learning that searching for extraordinary means leaving ordinary behind. And it’s okay to be excited and sad at the same time.

I told you we were searching for extraordinary this year. I didn’t know it would mean moving across the world. But isn’t that how God so often works? We surrender our dreams and He replaces them with something bigger than we even imagined. When we let go of our tight-fisted grip on life, God gives us extraordinary. And sometimes, He even gives us the world.

 

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