Alert: This is quite a long post. Also, Please forgive my rather scattered writing style… especially near the end. I can’t seem to properly communicate exactly what I would like to, but hopefully my feeble words will do some justice to the concept of what I’m trying to say, if not every detail.
No, unfortunately I am not writing to tell you that I have arrived safely in the land of the Scots. Despite the email I received Tuesday morning informing me that my visa would be sent out within 24 hours (which would mean that I should have received it Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday at the very latest), it never showed up, and I spent all of Friday afternoon trying to figure out where on Earth it was and how I could get it. Thanks to the advice of my clever aunt, I was able to get in contact with the consulate through my congressman, or rather through my congressman’s case manager that deals with this sort of situation. (I know, isn’t my aunt awesome? How did she even know that was a thing?)
So, we chatted, I explained the circumstances, he sent me a form to sign, I replied with the signed document and further explanation, and he passed it along to the consulate. Their first response, which he forwarded to me, was extremely disheartening. My visa had not yet even been dispatched, and they could not be certain when it might be—probably sometime in the next week. Alarmed, I sent two more emails of a rather more urgent nature. By this time, it was getting quite late and we had been forced to call US Airways and reschedule my flight. Unsure when my visa would come, we chose the latest departure date possible within the confines of Oleta’s valid paperwork, Wednesday the 27th. With two day priority shipping, my visa would need to be sent out THAT FRIDAY to arrive on time, since Monday was memorial day. I couldn’t help imagining a repeat of the last three days, checking the mail over and over only to discover Wednesday that it hadn’t arrived, and be forced to cancel the trip all together.
To my great relief though, shortly before 7 Pm that night, my congressman’s case manager replied saying my visa had now been placed in the mail, and Saturday, I got a text from my Dad saying we’d received it already! Praise God!
Needless to say, Friday was a bit emotionally taxing. I spent most of it worrying, and the rest of it praying. I was frustrated with myself—if only I had done something different, surely I could have avoided this situation. For much of the day, I was utterly uncertain what to do, and it made absolutely no sense to me that not getting my visa and missing my flight could possibly be part of God’s plan. I knew that I should have faith, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure I knew what that meant. I don’t mean faith in Christ’s salvation, or in the person of God, but small scale faith, the every day sort of faith.
Was having faith being positive of a certain desirable outcome based on belief in God, or was it trusting that any outcome was under God’s control, whether seemingly desirable or not? I searched for an answer in God’s word, and found these verses.
Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Okay, I thought, so I’m doing the right thing by reading the Bible at least.
Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
If it was impossible to please God without faith, that must mean He desires his servants to have faith in Him in all situations, no matter what the outcome.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
And the outcome isn’t always what I might expect. If I am not to “lean on my own understanding”, then my idea of an ideal situation won’t always match with God’s. If I am to acknowledge Him in all my ways, trust, not resignation, is what is required for every happenstance, whether apparently positive or negative. No matter what the outcome, He will make straight my path, which means that I must have faith that He has a plan, and that His plan is good.
It sounds trivial and ridiculous now. Of course I knew these things, and yet, in that moment, I didn’t, and that’s all that seemed to matter. I realize now that however many times I have come into contact with the meaning of everyday faith, however many times God has revealed to me His faithfulness, it has often been after the fact. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been a Christian a very long time, but I was so used to looking at situations in retrospect. Of course, God had a plan for my blindness, for every family drama, for every one of my sins and mess ups. With years or months or weeks to separate me from any such event, it’s easy to see his hand at work. It’s harder to recognize in the midst of it all. I’ve always known that, but now I think I’m starting to truly understand.
so of course, He has a plan now, and maybe part of it is teaching me to rely more on Him. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. I will be leaving for Scotland tomorrow, and can’t wait to discover what other things He has in store for me to learn there.