Have you ever been on a journey, maybe walking or driving down a road in a new place, when it occurred to you that you might be lost? “Hmmmm,” you think to yourself. “I was expecting to see something I recognized by now.” Or maybe, “I didn’t think this road was going to be this long. I wonder if I’ve missed a turn.”
So what did you do? Did you stop, pull out your map again, ask a passerby (assuming there was one to ask)? Or did you just keep going, thinking, “yeah, I just need to give it a bit longer. It will all start to come together soon.”
“Maybe around the next corner. No, well, I think if I just go a little farther.”
Of course, the further you go – the more of yourself that you invest in this journey – the greater the risk of your loss if that moment finally comes when you have to tell yourself, “OK, I’m really, really lost.”
It can be that once you’ve arrived at that point – once you’ve given so much of your focus to the path in front of you, you’ve tried so many turns, you’ve wandered through so many dangerous neighborhoods, mended so many worn out shoes, bandaged so many wounds – just to finally accept that you are totally lost, you can become completely terrified to take another step. You can find that all of the incentive that once drove you to find the right path – the place you thought you were meant to be – can suddenly shift, so that your primary objective with each step is simply for it to be as painless as possible.
You look around at your options – one through those woods, another across that river, a third up that mountain – and you see that there is no way beyond where you are, but through more trial, more suffering. And now all you can say to yourself is, “I just want to get home. I just want to know which direction will hurt the least.”
The intensity of these feelings can be greatly increased in the case that you also brought your family – your spouse, your children – along on this journey with you. Watching those the closest to you experience suffering as a result of your decisions – going along with your journey – can be a torment.
I recently found myself using this metaphor to describe to Charlie what is my view of where my life is at this moment. Some, I think, may see this as my having an early mid-life crisis. If not mid-life, I do think the word “crisis” is accurate in describing the way I was feeling.
As I write this, I am sitting in the 2nd floor room of a 2-story house that was build almost 30 years ago by an underground baptist congregation about 2 hours outside of St. Petersburg. My son is napping on a pallet on the floor. My daughter is in the main house about 10 meters away with a dear friend, who is the daughter of the man who was the pastor of the church here during the Soviet Union. The anointing of the Lord in this place is evident. I am certain that I am neither the first nor the last to come to this place and to bathe and rest in the sanctuary of the presence of God. I am certain that He is restoring our spirits – mine, my children – as we’re here.
And I am hearing Him ask, again, as He has so gently – but consistently – asked many times over the years, “Miki, when are you going to let go of Russia?”
To many who know me, and often to myself, I am defined by the fact that I and my family live and work as missionaries in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is not a bad thing by which to be defined. Before we moved here, I had had a deep desire to live here for several years. I can not begin to describe the ways the Lord has blessed us here. Of course, we have very little in the way of monetary goods. But the depth of the relationships we’ve been given – in Russia, in the U.S., and in many places in the world – has been incomparable to what I’d imagined for my life. The intimacy that I have with my husband and my children, due to our being so close and so dependent on one another for so long, is absolutely precious to me. The new levels that I’ve been able to see of my God, the times spent in communion with my Lord, Jesus, can not be described.
And as I sit here, I still struggle. But I am so grateful to God, because as I sit here today, I know in my heart that my metaphor about my life – as Charlie stated after hearing it before – is a lie.
Exodus 28:29-30 describes a “breast-piece of decision” that was to be worn by Aaron whenever he entered the Holy Place of the temple. On it were the names of the sons of Israel and what are described as the sacred lots. By wearing this, vs 30 states, “Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.”
It’s very interesting to me that per old law requirements, the part of the body to be covered before making decisions on behalf of the Israelites was not the head – it was the heart. In most of our society today – particularly in the church – this concept of using the heart to make decisions is considered to be foolish and irresponsible.
So why was it important to God then that the heart be protected in times of decision? Is it still important to Him now?
We feel the Lord has some very significant and new – although uncharted – opportunities coming up for us, and I confess, I am scared. I ask for your prayers that in our decisions, the Lord will protect our hearts and the hearts of our children. That He will help us to move not out of a desperation to avoid trial or to suffering, but that we will move in the direction that leads us further into Him.
Love and blessing in Christ –