“Okay, God. Maybe we were wrong in our timing, our approach, or our belief in your call.
Maybe we weren’t meant to do this.
Maybe we aren’t going to get to be missionaries and sail,
but maybe that’s what you want.”
Slowly we lowered our hands and stopped wiggling in our seats like preschoolers hoping to be picked. For two years we had been nearly falling out of our seats begging God to pick us, send us out into the world to bring people into a relationship with Him. Eyes that were once wide with excitement and hope were now full of frustration and tears, as we lowered our hands and prepared to offer up our dreams in sacrifice. We must have been wrong. God wasn’t calling us to serve him overseas, so now what? It appeared all the doors leading us offshore were closing and we were left at the end of a hallway searching for the way out.
We thought we were standing up and volunteering to live out the Great Commission of Christ — “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19). What seemed so evident only years earlier now appeared convoluted and obscure. We were utterly lost. Everything we thought God wanted for our lives was unraveling until we were left with a pile of thread at our feet and nothing but hope in our hands. Prayerfully, painfully, we prepared to put Te Whakapono up for sale in order to move back on land and regroup.
It was our final chance to ask God to reveal himself and his will to us; to lead us down the path he has chosen for us. This was our chance to truly put all our hope, trust, and faith in Christ alone; praying God would provide. Jehovah Jireh. Sacrificially, we emptied out Te Whak and made many trips down the dock with full carts and loaded cars; traveling to Ohio to retrieve our furniture from storage in an attempt to start over and seek out the will of God for our lives on land. We felt like Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-19); we were being asked to give up this thing we have desired and wanted for years to demonstrate our love and trust in the Lord and His will for our lives.
Then, Te Whak got hit. Not two weeks after we emptied her out and resigned ourselves to being dirt dwellers once again, our empty vessel — not unlike how we felt emotionally — had been hit by a docking transient boater, damaging her bow. “Great.” I muttered under my breath, angrily into the phone. “Just great. TJ is back in Mexico, we no longer live on her, and now I have to deal with getting this fixed on top of getting settled back on land. Perfect.”
I was frustrated at first but within moments found myself praising God for the damage only being superficial and above the waterline. Jumping in the car I drove to the marina to see the damage and speak to the owner of the other boat. On my drive to the marina it hit me: maybe this is a sign we aren’t meant to sell our boat. She was nearly ready for the market and now she will have to sit in her slip until she can be repaired. Maybe, just maybe, God was asking us to trust him.
After exchanging minimal pleasantries with the other boater, I took his information and called three fiberglass repairmen in the area to get quotes for repairs. The one I chose couldn’t get to our boat for a month, which was also the time at which TJ would be home to turn the boat and dock her bow facing inward for the repair. Done. Luke the painter (and fiberglass guy) it was. Now it was our time to pray.
Lord, if it is your will, lead us back to our calling. Open the doors to us that we may enter and walk in your will. Being on land feels so hollow and not at all like what we are to do, if it is your will, lead us back. Show us the way.
So, we prayed for 30-some days until it was time for the repair. As only God could plan it, the repair was scheduled to take place while we were in Pennsylvania at the Missionary Orientation Program (MOP) training to help us further discern whether or not we are truly called to be missionaries. Just days before our departure and the scheduled repair, Te Whak was hit AGAIN. Twice in one month. Unbelievable. She had never been hit by docking boaters before and now, as we were preparing to sell her, she gets hit not once but twice. We don’t believe in coincidence…
While all this was going on, Satan began attacking us (repeatedly) in many other ways; seemingly trying to put a stop to our departure to Pennsylvania. TJ’s grandmother entered the hospital for the last time, my car – the car we were planning to drive that long distance – broke down, Vivienne had a fever of 103 for multiple days and was very sick, I was so overwhelmed at my job and angry all the time. The Enemy was working hard to stop us so we surely were on the right track.
Finally, after Vivienne’s preschool graduation, we left South Carolina, Pennsylvania bound. As we drove we talked about all that had transpired with the boat, Satan’s seemingly endless attacks, and how far we had come in our faith walk and trust in God over the last 18 months. We stopped for dinner at Smithfields in North Carolina and realized the last time we had been in that very spot was the day before TJ lost his job in 2016 and our lives were turned upside down. Could it be that God was starting to bring everything full-circle?
Well after midnight we arrived for our jam-packed, week-long training program. Exhausted and excited we made our way to our assigned room, eager to see where God would lead us in the week ahead…
Check back for Isaac on the Altar: Part II in a few days!
Trust us, you won’t want to miss it!