01/21/2014 07:26 AM | By Jenae Cartwright, daughter of Pastor Ben Cross
Abridged article for the bulletin below---------------------------
Hello, my name is Jenae, and I worry. I mean, who doesn’t right? We all struggle to consciously put our trust in God’s perfect plan. But then there are the doozies…the big’uns.
I vividly remember holding my one -year-old nephew Daniel in my arms as we slow danced at my sister’s wedding last December. He was tired, and rested his precious head on my shoulder. I closed my eyes and hummed softly along with the music into his ear, willing him to remember his Auntie’s voice. I knew it would be the last time I’d hold him for 3 years; I worried it would be forever. Soon, my brother, his wife, and their 4 young children would be leaving the States for South Sudan to start long-term missionary work, as well as water-quality. And I was angry—the kind you keep to yourself because it’s selfish. The kind you keep to yourself because it would expose your worry, mistrust, and fear that God wouldn’t take care of them. The kind you keep to yourself, because, if He chose to take care of them in a way that seemed to me harmful, my faith would somehow unravel.
It was scary. There is so much unrest in Sudan. The brave Sudanese had just earned/won/conquered-all in a Civil War and established their own country. Now, the closest village to where they’d live was remote Melut—along the Nile with snakes and bacteria galore and their 4 babies…OUR 4 babies.
The transition was so hard, but it wasn’t long before they were calling their new dirt plot on Earth, home. It was heartwarming, and heart wrenching all at once. Then, they started getting sick. OH…the pain that we went through here—not being able to do anything, especially when one of the girls became unbelievably ill. And, knowing the burden on the parents as well. And, keeping that smile on your face when others said to us: “GET THEM HOME! WHAT ARE THEY DOING?” And, standing there like a polished politician, responding back with “Ah, yes…they are doing God’s work. We are trusting in His provision.”…all the while wishing I could yell myself. I couldn’t really see God’s plan.
All I knew was that my niece became so sick she almost died 4 times in a month’s hospital stay. All I knew was that there were people all around the world praying for her healing and answers to her deadly illness. I found myself face down on my living room floor weeping because I didn’t want God to take her. All I knew was that it was pain and fear: unhinged.
And then my sister-in-law wrote something amazingly mature. She said their daughter’s life was a gift to them. We are stewards of the gifts God gives us, and when He chooses, or HOW He chooses to give and take away, is about something BEYOND our human capacity to understand. We are here to continue to serve Him in the way He called US. Their daughter’s story—her life—has a purpose all her own whether He took her home then, or healed her.
I was humbled, and it changed me. It changed my “American Church” perspective on suffering and how we aren’t entitled to disrespect our Creator’s good plan. We rejoice she lived but gained a whole new understanding of being prepared for death.
Then, two months ago when my baby nephew (who is now two) knocked loudly on heaven’s gates, and they had to MedEvac the family out of South Sudan and into Kenya for lifesaving attention from dehydration, the worry clogged my throat. But my heart was at peace. We were so thankful for good news of his swift recovery. We scratched our heads and said, “What next God?” Will they continue to get sick? Their presence there is making a difference! We’re almost used to the idea of them being gone, and Skyping.
Anyone watch World News? Utter carnage in the Sudans right now. refugees, UN assistance, dead bodies strewn in fields...And I let that sink in… If the baby hadn’t gotten sick just before the rage broke out, and the family left for Kenya in a rush, my family would literally be trapped in a volatile situation.
I sat in silence and then wept for joy at how God orchestrated protection before they even knew they needed it. And here we’d been focused on the baby. They are safe and every communication we’ve gotten from them tells us they can’t wait to get home. Home...to Melut.
NOW my heart dances with joy because my faith is strengthened by their lives, and their obedience to follow through with their calling IN SPITE of circumstances. It may take months for them to return, but their hearts are set on God’s work there…in Melut.
God’s extended lesson to me: “I’m the God of every city. I am supreme, and I am righteous, and I am worthy of all praise. And I have work for your brother to do in Melut.” My brother and his wife have made a new home in a nation of brokenness, and darkness, yet live among joy even while experiencing deep pain. God placed them there as His light. He is hope and peace, and He’s using this family to make an impact of love!
May I do that: Live boldly! I’m learning Peace: Unhinged.
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