And I said “No.” A flat, adamant “No” to going where the Lord asked us; “No” to going to Sri Lanka. After all, didn’t he know that we had other plans? Where is Sri Lanka, anyway? I thought. As the worship team filled a large room with praise, I shook my head at God and reluctantly scribbled down the name of the country on a journal page. At this point, my husband and I had already made plans for Nepal; the tickets were selected, the contact in the country was established, a family was ready to open their home and share space with us, and everything seemingly made sense to go. But God said “No.”
Like all the other times I doubted him, he spoke with a gentle promise. This time, he said, 1) “Go to Sri Lankainstead of Nepal,” and 2) “I will supply all of your needs.” I knew it was the Lord because of his caring persistence and my constant pushback. He’s never been one to set up a bad plan, and I’m learning (slowly) that when he says that he’s preparing a place for me, he always follows through with it.
Since my husband and I both had our minds set on Nepal, I didn’t want to let him know that God told me something different. I knew it was meaningless to argue — after all, God has continually kept his promises in the past, continually provided, and has never let us underestimate his sovereignty. Still, I argued for a solid twenty minutes. Call it “Human nature,” call it “Repetitive,” or call it “Absolute uselessness;” whatever the case, rebellion to his voice is never wise and it always bites in the end. He’s always constant, always good, and always faithful. Always – regardless of the situation. After a banter of excuses, his words “Instead of Nepal” we’re undeniable. Even though we didn’t know anyone in Sri Lanka, or have any leads, peace surrounded the decision and I called Zachary that night (he was in Nicaragua at the time).
I asked my husband to pray during the remainder of his trip about the name of another country (however, I didn’t tell him which country to pray about). “Why?” He asked, “You don’t want to go to Nepal?” Oh heavens. Of course I wanted to go to Nepal. If the Lord were, in fact, telling me Sri Lanka, then he would no doubt confirm it through my spouse. When Zach returned home, he reminded me that all the doors were open for Nepal, so we should just go there. “You didn’t pray about it, did you?” I asked. “No,” he said. Disappointed by his response, I asked him to pray for three more days about the name of the country we were to travel to.
The following Wednesday, our brother Joesiah accompanied us on a walk to the river. Zachary told me before we left that I probably didn’t know where the country was that God told him. Great. Geography has never been my strong suit, so I began to doubt that God had told us the same place. I started to tell my younger brother-in-law of my doubts, when he joyfully interrupted with, “How about you both just whisper the name of the country into my ear and I’ll tell you if it’s the same.” We did exactly as Joe suggested, and sure enough, he announced in a rather matter-of-fact way, “Sri Lanka … what do you know, God told you the same thing.”
Throughout the next few months, we didn’t really prepare, we just waited on Jesus and asked him what to do next. His leading and provision brought us to Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka. We are currently working alongside KidzNet, a small, non-profit organization (with only three staff members) that works directly with the government on raising the quality of children’s homes all over Sri Lanka. Everything that comes in, goes out. In other words, every penny or donation gets distributed according to need into the 48 homes all over the nation. I’ll be photographing the grants to send back to the donors, while Zach will learn and play cricket at the homes with the kids. As a team, we’ll visit the homes to talk with, pray with, play sports with, eat with, and encourage the staff and kids.
This is one way that we’ll be serving over the next few months. God’s generous heart and his constant faithfulness bring us to a place of thanksgiving over and over again. We’re learning that it’s hard to “Kick against the goads” when it comes to God’s leading. In other words, it’s impossible to ignore his direction and resist his will. Just as Jesus confronted Paul when he met him on the road to Damascus, he’s reminding us that we were created to yield to a vision more well-crafted than our own. In the context of Acts 26:14, to “Kick against the goads” is a proverbial statement that the Romans probably knew (Paul was a Roman citizen, so he picked up the statement quickly). Goads were long, sharpened sticks used to prod oxen when they were hitched to yokes. Not wanting to be jabbed again by the sharp stick, the ox would try and kick against it. The ox would soon learn that it was better to accept the direction of the farmer than to “Kick against the goad.”
The preparation of this trip has shown us the joy of submission, the reward of giving freely, and the faithfulness of a King who excels in loving well. It’s far better for us to accept the direction that he says to go, instead of fighting it. He’s teaching us that it’s foolish not to obey, and that his blessings overflow when we rest and trust in him. It’s so simple. When we overcomplicate it, when we fight it, when we rebel against it — that’s when we realize that he’s known best all along. He’s faithful to his promises, and he never fails in completing them. Ever. He’s a good, good father; always pursuing, always loving, and always calling us back to him — where joy, security, grace, value, and abundant life abounds.