Last week marked the New Year in Ethiopia, on September 11th. By the Ethiopian Calendar, it is now 2005. The New Year is the biggest holiday for Ethiopians. This is the text I received from one of my Ethiopian friends on New Year’s morning:
My own mind went not so much forward – but back. Back to one year ago when we arrived in Ethiopia. We were new to the country and had just gotten over our jet lag, initial culture shock, and altitude adjustment (we are at 7,500 feet) when the Ethiopian New Year hit. As was also the case this year, we celebrated the New Year at an Ethiopian friend’s house, enjoying the cultural food, coffee, and conversation that is fundamental to their New Year celebration. So many things were still uncertain for us at that time. Would the kids like school? Could we adjust to this culture? Where would we live after the family returned whose home we were living in? When would we get our vehicle? When would some of our comforting household items from the US arrive, and would we be able to get them into the country? Could this new country actually feel like home? How do we wash our fruits and vegetables? It took several months for all those questions to be answered, but God answered them all, well beyond are greatest expectations and in ways we did not anticipate.
This year, as we walked to our friend’s home for the New Year, I was overwhelmed by God’s provision for everything, by His blessings to us, though we are so undeserving, unsure, and doubting. Chris and I have talked about the greatest lesson we have learned this past year, and we both agree: God is faithful, even when we are faithless and fearful. You can take a step in “faith” even with your heart beating out of your chest, and the calm faith will follow, the kind we think we should all have from the start, after we see how God provides and takes care. Your faith doesn’t have to start out perfectly, as we all imagine, but He will take whatever kind of faith we have, and work with it, and prove Himself faithful, until our faith has been so strengthened that we start to have the kind of faith we associate with faithful people. I will never forget the drive to the airport one year ago to move our family here. We had a caravan of three cars bringing our ton of luggage and our family of six. My heart was beating out of my chest. I have literally never been so afraid in my life. We came to a traffic jam – the president had just landed at the airport in Minneapolis and the road was closed. Luckily, my dad knew another way and led the caravan. As we were momentarily stopped in the traffic, we turned on the radio, and right away our family’s current favorite song came on — “I Lift My Hands,” whose chorus is, “You are faithful, God, forever.”
We had just been to a Chris Tomlin concert the month before and had heard the story behind the song, and it meant the world to us. In that moment, I felt God saying to me, “I have my eyes on you, and I am with you, and I know everything that you need – and I have it totally under control.” My heart beat started to slow, after beating wildly all morning. As we arrived at the airport, we were immediately greeted by a curb-side checker guy, even though we were told multiple times our airline doesn’t have that service at that airport. Believe me, my Dad had called and called. He couldn’t imagine how we were going to negotiate the airport with four kids and 25 bags, most weighing more than our kids. The curb-side checker, of course, was Ethiopian! Ok, God, we know you had all of this planned – the timing of the traffic jam so this particular guy would be here at the curb, etc. He brought all of our luggage and passports to the counter while we stood aside and talked with our kids. We did absolutely nothing. Didn’t lift a finger. Didn’t pay a cent for extra baggage, although it should have been hundreds. Easiest check in I had ever done – even on domestic flights with just a carryon. And that was just the start of God’s faithful provision for a family that was taking a very timid and fearful step out. So what’s the point? If there is something you know God wants you to do, don’t wait to have perfect faith — or even pretty good faith — to do it. Just take the first little step, even if you are terrified. God does the rest. You don’t need to have great expectations of yourself – just have them of the One who can deliver. And He will.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Originally posted at: http://ethiopia.thebernards.org/2012/09/20/great-expectations-for-2005/.