It was March 2012 and I was wrapping up a visit with Anna’s grandfather, John. I remember standing in his Nashville driveway with one hand on the car door, looking into the eyes of a man who’d seen ninety years of life and seventy years of ministry. I stopped myself from leaning in for that final hug and asked, “What advice do you have for us as we go to be missionaries?” He looked at me for a moment as his jaw worked over the question.
Fast forward to April 26, 2013. It was another cool, rainy day in Taipei. Anna and I sat speechless trying to process unexpected and unwelcome news. The silence was only broken by the sound of tires trying to grip wet pavement fifteen stories below us. We stared at the image of a red phone indicating our computer call was over, as if expecting to wake from a bad dream. We could not stay in Taipei and the company would not allow a transfer. No explanation, no opportunity for discussion, and no options. We had ten days to sell our belongings, settle our accounts, say our goodbyes, and board a plane to the States.
As the fog cleared, the battlefield came into view. My mind immediately began strategizing how we would overcome this and stay in Taiwan. I’m a doer. A man of action. I see a problem, I solve it. This was not going to be different.
I stood up from the computer, took a sip of water, and put our plan into motion. Like many disaster response plans, our first act was to wake someone with bad news. We phoned a friend in the States who suggested that we not pack yet. We were to spend the next few days doing nothing but praying and reading the Word. Radical.
It was then that John’s response to my question came to mind: “Give God a chance.”
It seemed too simple back in Nashville. So simple I wondered if he was just too tired for one more sermon. He had preached thousands in his lifetime and all he had to offer me were four words. Just four. Little did I know those four words would be the key to surviving the most painful situation Anna and I had ever faced together.
I took his advice and instead of doing, acting, and solving, I humbled myself before God. God’s word immediately came to life as the Spirit spoke to me.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
Be still, and know that I am God.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I understood what it really meant to give God a chance. Rather than trying to correct things on my own, rather than pursuing justice, I simply needed to trust God. I needed to get out of my own way, put my faith in Him, and give Him room to work. And did He ever work.
He turned the most tragic time in our marriage into the sweetest. In those final days in Taiwan, we pressed into Jesus and pressed into each other. We experienced more joy, peace, and laughter together than ever before.
On May 10th, we did get on a plane and return home. We had no idea what would come next, but we knew God was in control. We continued walking in the Spirit with full confidence that we were exactly where God wanted us to be. Since that time, He has moved in ways we never imagined. We have repeatedly seen God make incredible things happen over the past six months, working things for good in ways only our sovereign God can do.
Here we are. Whole, happy, excited, and at peace. All because we gave God a chance.