Today marks four weeks since we first touched down in Ireland. With the exception of a few bumps and bruises along the way, it’s been a very good four weeks. We’ve enjoyed time together as a family. We’ve taken care of some practical details relating to living here. And we’ve learned a lot! (That last sentence sounds very positive, and it is. Just keep in mind that the word “learning” is usually paired up with “from our mistakes”.)
In large part, the things we’ve set out to do, we’ve done! It’s often hard to find a house, so we dove into the process, sending inquiries and going to home showings. The result of this effort was that we found a home. Opening a bank account can prove challenging, so we started working on that ahead of time. The result of that work was that we now have a bank account. I could go on and on through various tasks related to living here full-time, where we set a goal, worked toward it, and accomplished it.
The thing is, it’s easy to forget in those situations that God is at work behind the scenes, making it all possible!
You know where it’s not so easy to forget? In the immigration office. Here is a place where we can plan, we can prepare, and we can have all of our proverbial ducks in a row. But there is seemingly no way to know how things will turn out. Some people go in once, answer a few questions, and get their approval right away. Others are sent away with not much more than a “better luck next time”. Even people who have to go back more than once may have a vastly different experience their second or third time. To an outsider like myself, the process is intimidating and mysterious.
Dorine and I visited the immigration office last week. Our result was neither the sail-right-through option for which we’d hoped nor the out-and-out rejection we had feared. Our result was somewhere between, someplace requiring more time and deliberation, but no more certainty. So today, as I walked down to take the bus back down to the city centre and submit more paperwork, I was praying about the possibility of “miserable, embarrassing failure”.
Then I found myself praying about the idea of removing one word from that phrase. No, not “failure”, as I posted here last summer about how failure is something we should be willing to face. And not “miserable” either, since I’m pretty sure it would be pretty bad if we had to uproot again and leave this place we’re just starting to understand. No, I want to take the “embarrassing” out of it. It’s easy to feel ashamed when our plans don’t work out, but I want to come back to the idea that this is God’s journey, not ours. If I were working for a big multinational company and my boss sent me to one department and then sent me someplace else instead, embarrassment would probably not be my first reaction. And, since God is aware of the whole picture, has everything in perfect view, and knows what is best for me, for my family, and for the people here – I can rest in whatever He works out in this journey.
Now, that said, I hope and believe He is keeping us here. But sometimes looking the worst-case option in the eye gives us a good dose of perspective. It sure did for me.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 [NASB]
If I’m working diligently, then I don’t have any cause for shame. And if I’m presenting myself to God – in all circumstances – He’ll direct me where He wants me. Such a freeing idea.