Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
He who promised is faithful.
Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Some of you who read my post last Saturday will remember that I went to Missionfest Toronto, primarily to make it possible for my daughter and her friend to hear an inspiring speaker. I wondered what God might have for me, the ex-missionary, the Life Coach/Counsellor-in-training, and how I would react again to the big splash of Missionfest this time, in the context of my experience of it over many years since its beginnings out west, which I shared in with my husband in our earlier life as missionaries.
Well, I still struggled with the feeling of Missionfest being like just another big trade fair in a huge facility on the outskirts of Toronto. I didn't like the darkened auditorium in the middle of the day to hear a worship band that was way louder than necessary, and I was concerned at the fervency that didn't seem to be there anymore in the atmosphere. I missed the excitement and hubbub of activity and spontaneity of earlier years, and I noticed the numbers of booths seemed reduced, as well as those who attended.
Nevertheless I was blessed, as always, by Brian Doerksen in concert, a Christian worship leader/songwriter whose faithfulness, personal testimony and sacrifice have always impressed me, not to mention the anointing on his music, simple as it is. My daughter and her friend were not disappointed in Shane Claiborne, the speaker they had come for, and talked about his message for the rest of the weekend. They found the information they wanted from YWAM (Youth With a Mission) and Urban Promise. Other friends we bumped into were excited by words and resources that blessed them for their upcoming mission trip. We shook hands with Michael Coren and chatted candidly with him about current issues on his program, and I spoke to several colleagues of my husband's from days gone by.
My friend and I managed to make it into the latter part of the Women's Forum, and appreciated the affirming and solid, although familiar teaching. I wondered what God might do about the new directions in my life. I was not to be disappointed. As we were instructed to join in threes to be prayed for by the speaker and each other,one of the hosts at the back table came over and joined us. After we prayed she asked me if I was a teacher, sensing something in the way I prayed for her. The conversation opened up, and we discovered we had both been missionaries in East Africa. She is more recently returned and going through some of the struggles I have wrestled with since our return eight years ago.
When she saw Life Coaching on my card, we talked about making a probono arrangement where I would coach her for free in this transition phase and she would help me by being my client as I am in training! I had been thinking that coaching returned missionary women could be one coaching niche for me. So here I am now, one phone coaching session already done, and another one going on in person in Toronto as you read this. God is so organized!! Instead of me worrying about how to try out clients, He hands me my first one - a very lovely lady,confirming my conviction that my being and doing are interconnected in this"ex-missionary" phase of my life. This gift felt like a firstfruits of His promise to me of faithfulness of leading me into a whole new life ahead of me, of which Life Coaching and counselling are a part.
That made my day, but it was only noon, and we planned to stay around a while, so we went to one workshop, on Arts and Mission. When I found it was about a TV type video website I wondered what it would have to do with me. The founders and organizers of Images of You TV (www.ImagesofU.TV) were very professional and courteous as they shared about how they promote mission and Christian events through their TV style website. ...and then I found an inspiration forming right there in my head - I asked pertinent questions in the session and afterwards..and...lo and behold: a vision for a future video section of my business website to share voices and stories from Africa...beginning with my husband's return trip there this summer - an opportunity to honour him and his life's work, and my many friends, Ugandan and missionary, who are still there. As if that was not exciting enough, the organizer overheard my discussion with the other volunteer workers and said she wants to do a story on Jim and his past work and trip when he comes back. God is opening up a new way to use my experience as a missionary, to bless what I have been and known, and to find new ways to bless those with whom so much of my big story of missionary life has been connected.
I had stepped out in obedience to make something happen for my daughter. God met me where I was, in transition between the past and the future, and danced in the present with me. Regardless of atmosphere or lack of it, my own kind of cynicism or preparation for disappointment, He showed His faithfulness to me and to the promises He has given me, in the past and the present, for the future.
There was more than enough for me, in a quiet and yet satisfying way, at Missionfest. I am reminded again that it's not about the event, and never is; it's about God and what He can do when we trust Him and believe His promises to us. We move out in our sailing craft on to the open sea, and then we open His sealed orders.