I’ve been digging through some of my old baggage – sharing pieces of the year God told us a whole lot of “no” and not much else. My hope is that it might encourage you if you find yourself stuck in a place where your prayers seem to be bouncing off the walls. If you want to start from the beginning you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

After a year and a half in my homeland of South Africa our plans to settle in permanently under the purple boughs of the jacarandas were painfully uprooted. No one was hiring an international and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that a man needs to work. So I blindly promised my husband that wherever he found a job, we would move.

Turns out that job was in Michigan.

It could not have been more different. Or more perfect a place to recover. Psalm 23 took on literal meaning for me. Out of the desert of God’s silence and our desperation He led us now into green pastures

beside quiet waters

and the Spirit begin the gentle process of restoring our souls.

We couldn’t afford a house or much of a rental either, but family friends had a home they couldn’t sell and were prepared to rent to us for a fraction of its worth in exchange for us being prepared to move out at a moment’s notice if it sold. It was deep in farm country and would have stood vacant if we hadn’t arrived when we did.

Pete’s aunt and uncle lived just around the corner and absorbed us into hearth and home. And slowly we started to find our feet and take tentative steps forward again.

And I discovered that at the heart of my misery – beyond the homesickness and sense of failure – had been a misunderstanding about faith. I had confused faith in God with faith in what God could do for me. I had been viewing God like a mystical vending machine; I inserted my prayers, pulled the handle and expected the desire of my heart to pop out the bottom slot.

Boy, was I deceived.

I have since come to believe that God is not nearly as interested in our happiness as He is in our holiness. What makes me happy is not necessarily what draws me closer to the God who knows my every nook and cranny. And He loves me enough to say, “no” when – as every parent understands – saying “yes” would have been so much simpler.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still ache for home and the could’ve beens if things had worked out there. It just means that I truly understand in a way I never had before, that His will is for His best, which in turn is for my best. Because He is the God of fresh beginnings and beautiful restoration. And I have the baby to prove it.

More on that tomorrow!


To read the final chapter, please click here. Because it has a happy ending.