Have you ever lived abroad? Have you ever made a big move? Sometimes the moves are for adventurous reasons and other times they are made out of necessity. We’ve experienced both in our life.
Early in our marriage we had the opportunity to spend a year in England. I remember the day Phat came home to tell me of his professor’s proposition. He was finishing up his Master’s degree while working as a teaching assistant, and one of his theology professors needed help completing a book about John Wesley. The kicker? He needed Phat to go to England with him to be his research assistant and computer guru. Manchester is where John Wesley’s archives are housed.
Of course, Phat was exuberant and already sure it could happen. I was, to say the least, hesitant. To make a long story short, we did it. It was a wonderfully stretching experience and truly, some of our favorite memories are from that time in our lives.
A few years later another major move came from necessity. The recession of the early 90’s hit us hard. Phat had a relatively new professorship at a local Christian college. We had our first son and life was looking grand. But the economy caused less enrollment for the coming year and Phat, being the last hired — no tenure — became the first fired. We struggled for a couple of years, trying to keep our heads above water. I must say, I became enthralled with my husband in those years. He did anything and everything necessary to keep us alive. The hours he worked, the jobs he did to make ends meet were a testimony to the honor and sacrifice he was willing to make for his young family.
But eventually we understood the need to move to a bigger city where the opportunities for employment were better. We loved Kansas City and did NOT want to leave, but knew our time there had ended. We scraped and scrounged to afford the move, but we did it. All the way to my hometown: Dallas, Texas. Within two weeks Phat had secured a position and within a month we were buying our first home. Amazing stories there…too many to tell now.
So why am I sharing these stories? Well, the new year has much to offer in terms of hope and anxiety. Much of the news causes concern over what will happen in this economy. Some people may find it necessary to make drastic changes to their lifestyles, or even to make a move to find a more hopeful existence. Others are concerned of the “signs of the times” wondering what it all means.
Aquila and Priscilla were two workers in the early church. Husband and wife sent abroad through Claudius Ceasar’s decree:
There he (Paul) found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. ~Acts 18:2
Political maneuverings, Roman expansion, persecution of unwanted citizens had caused a change for Aquila and Priscilla. Possibly not something they would have chosen on their own, but nonetheless, a necessary move.
Peter addresses these Jews who had been dispersed abroad in his first epistle:
From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those temporarily residing abroad (in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia) who are chosen…
God had a plan. A plan to “further the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He worked His plan through seemingly odd circumstances, but strategically insightful moves. God has mad networking skills. He sees the end from the beginning and He knows exactly where He wants His servants to reside.
I find this comforting in an anxious world. God knows the plans He has for us and, for some of us, it may include trials we did not foresee. But in those trials, He IS doing His work. Meditate on the encouragement Peter gives to those “temporarily residing abroad.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
You have not seen Him, but you love Him. You do not see Him now but you believe in Him and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls. ~1 Peter 1:3-9