“Maybe you should start packing.”
My husband’s voice carried the usual note of teasing but also a serious undercurrent. He was just joking, right? Maybe not this time…
We were in the throes of yet another major, life changing decision; the past two years had been full of them. Do we stay here, or do we move? Do we hatch turkeys or butcher them? Do we sell cows or buy some? Do we pursue an adoption or wait for another child to be born to us? Do we pursue this business opportunity or another? Do we say yes to this job offer or one of fifteen others?
“At least we have options,” Ben tells me, when I despair of ever sorting it all out. He’s right–options are good. Looking to the future, knowing that we could do anything or go anywhere, all the while watching the Lord work, is exciting. But for me, change is hard. Mulling over options is fun so long as they are theoretical only. When it comes right down to the doing of it, I balk.
Sometimes there’s no turning back…
Two years ago, in the midst of plans to buy some yearling heifers, breed them and resell them, Ben got a call saying that the poultry hatchery business we had inquired about (a door that we thought was closed) was still for sale. In less than two weeks time, we found ourselves thousands of dollars in debt, moving an incubator into a shed on our place, and the not-so-proud owners of over a thousand ducks, geese, and turkeys.
For the next six months, we were too busy to eat, sleep, think, or go to church. We were swallowed up in a storm of eggs that needed to be gathered, washed, and set in the incubator; a flurry of paperwork that needed to be done, orders to confirm, bills to send and more to pay; a peeping melee of chicks needing to be counted, boxed, hauled to the post office, and others that needed heat lamps, feed, water, and clean pens.
Somehow we survived. After the rush of hatching was over, and we were left with a little bit of sanity and a lot of ducks, I tried to see what God had been doing. Believe me, things looked like a disaster. The yard was full of feathers, the porch full of chickens, the garden stripped bare by hungry birds, our bank account worse than empty.
“Where were You, Lord?” I wondered. “Why did You let us do this bird-brained thing anyway?” The answers were not readily apparent. Only the quiet assurance that He was still with us, still in control, still providing for our needs. The slower pace of winter. A buyer for the ducks and geese. Enough money to make the payments and keep food on the table. A clean bill of health for the turkey flock. My piano coming home. The healing balm of His Word. He had kept us through the storm.
Sometimes there’s no going forward…
One year ago, on the brink of another hatching season, a photograph in a newsletter we get from an adoption agency caught my eye, and, subsequently, caught our hearts. It appeared impossible; our small house, small income, and small faith seemed inadequate. But the agency thought we were a perfect match. With much trepidation and much excitement we started the paperwork. Yes, it seemed crazy, but the photo on the fridge, and thought of those children without a father or mother who had never heard the gospel drove us on.
Enter change. We were on the brink of signing the first set of papers and sending a substantial sum of money to initiate the adoption, when I missed my period. I joyfully told Ben that we were going to have another baby. He, too, was thrilled. But then we learned that couples expecting a baby are not allowed to pursue international adoptions. Bang! The door was closed in our face. End of plan A. (A is for Adoption…) On to plan B. (B is for Baby…) 🙂
Eight months later, after morning sickness, summer’s heat, outgrowing my waistline, and a quick two and a half hour labor, I was holding our baby girl in my arms. What joy! She had two happy parents, two happier brothers, and ten very happy aunts, not to mention grandparents, uncles and cousins!
Then, the unthinkable. A baby not breathing. A ninety mile an hour trip–praying all the way–to the emergency room. An ambulance transport to the neonatal ICU in a larger hospital. The phone call telling us that she wasn’t going to live. The soaring joy of giving her up to Jesus; the searing pain of letting go. A tiny casket and a newly dug grave. And more tears than I’ve cried in my lifetime. Change.
This time, I did not need to wonder where God was. I knew that He carried me. He spoke tenderly through His Word as never before. He had granted, He had taken away; yet was He good. Though He slay me, yet would I trust, for, “In every change, He faithful will remain. …The waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
What’s next? Will I find myself packing for a move? Or will we stay put and hatch turkeys yet another year? Right now, it’s all up in the air, and mostly up to my husband to decide. But not entirely. It’s also up to God to “order and provide.” And it’s up to me to remember His past faithfulness and trust His future mercies. To remember, if we move, that I’m just passing through–I walk the pilgrim way. To remember, if we stay, to do turkey chores “as unto the Lord.”
So, be still, my soul. He Who does not change abides with thee.