For about four years now, Tim has engaged in the practice of naming our year. Not the year that has just passed but the year to come; sort of declaring that this is what we think this year will be about for us. It's been so amazing to look back each time and see how the name he chose was in a sense prophetic. Let me give you some examples:
2006 was "The Year of the Faithful Witness." This was the year that Tim determined to faithfully share the gospel at the Spirit's prompting. He picked up random hitch hiker's, helped stranded motorists, and invited people into our home that made me, well, a little less than comfortable. It was also the year that I learned to trust my husband more and how to express concern without questioning God's direction.
2007 was "The Year of Radical Obedience." This was the year that we believe God called us to leave the country and serve as missionaries in Haiti. It was the year that we sold our house, got rid of our dog, and yard-saled away most of our belongings. It was also the year that the mission door closed, the adoption door re-opened, and we crammed six people into an 800 square foot barn for three months. Though we admittedly missed plenty of God's directions and were probably losers in a myriad of ways, we tried hard to obey. And He certainly held us to the "radical" part.
2008 was "The Year of No Regrets." We wanted to look back at this year and know that we hadn't missed any (at least the obvious) opportunities to serve God and others. It was our first full year living in the 'hood and the year that we began our summer season of Friday night hot dog parties for anyone in our community who would join us. It was the year that we "birthed" a new Sunday School class and found that God sent us just the people we needed to jump start our neighborhood ministry. And it was the year that slowly but surely and with the help of many friends, we started seeing kids from our area come to church every week. Again, we are not prideful or stupid enough to pretend that any year has been perfect but there aren't a lot of regrets for this past year in retrospect.
And so, that leads us to 2009. Oddly enough it was I who felt impressed to name this new year. But for several weeks I squelched it because I didn't really like the name God gave me. By now, I've looked back enough to know that He gives us these ideals and then actually holds us to it. So, I fought hard. And then He spoke it to me again through Tim and I knew it was time to submit. ugh. 2009 - "The Year of Ridiculous Sacrifice." See what I mean?
And sure enough, we are only 11 days into the year and so far, I've spent the better part of a week with an extra kid in the house to help out a single mom who works nights, attempted to befriend and counsel a teenage girl who's been kicked out of multiple homes, and shared the gospel with her boyfriend -an admitted gang member, who is also a drug user and has been in jail upward of four times. The most recent stint ending just two weeks ago. You guys know me, and I'm not about to lie or sugarcoat the facts. These "sacrifices" have been hard at best, and downright scary at worst. And I'm afraid we've only scratched the surface. BUT...and this is a BIG BUT...
this is where the provision comes in. And already in this short amount of time God has proven Himself faithful. One of our frustrations with the work we're doing in the neighborhood has been trying to provide transportation for all the kids who want to come to church with us. (yeah, it's a good problem but a problem just the same) We have such wonderful class mates who've gotten to know and love these children just like we have, who invest much time and energy into helping with this issue. But ultimately, we are out-numbered. There are at times more kids than seats available.
We felt very weighed down by the potential of having to tell any of "our" kids that they couldn't go to church because we didn't have a spot for them. This very weekend, as Tim did the job of making calls to try and scrounge up rides and was met with many obstacles (legitimate ones); we hit a wall emotionally. And we finally did what perhaps we should have done way back when- we prayed. We told God that we had kids who wanted to go to church and while we would continue to use families to help us build relationships into the lives of these children, when it came right down to it we just needed a way to get them there. This was on Saturday.
Sunday after church, I passed a friend of ours in the hall and he said, "Hey, tell Tim to give me a call when he has a chance." Okay. Didn't think much of it. This friend, however, happens to own a Suburban that we have on occasion borrowed to carry kiddos to church. We ate lunch and I passed the message on to Tim and added as a bit of a joke "what if he's gonna offer us his Suburban." We had already been looking on craigslist for mini-vans, passenger vans, limos, hearses, pretty much anything that could be crammed with younguns. Tim stopped right there and prayed a quick gosh, Lord that would be cool but whatever...kind of prayer. He called. Left a message.
When the guy called a short time later he basically said, "God told me that I'm supposed to give you our Suburban." I didn't hear him say it. I was in the living room and Tim was in the bedroom. But when I heard Tim's voice crack as he replied through tears, "Man, you have no idea how amazing your timing is." I knew. By the time he hung up the phone we were both sobbing. I don't know what caught me more; the reminder of how much God loves us or the reality that He loves these kids even more than we do.
And so, if this is to be The Year of Ridiculous Sacrifice, I have to ask myself-- how could I offer any less to such an amazing God?