Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. —Psalm 139:4-6
Sometimes God opens up our field of vision to see how His hand has intricately guided our past to the point where we are today. Sometimes, He allows us to see how each trial, each challenge, each strength—even each weakness—was uniquely and wonderfully fashioned for such a time as this.
That's when you realize that this is no coincidence; it's a culmination.
I start to feel that same sense of awe when I watch what God is doing through my wife, Joy. For the second consecutive year, she has been given the opportunity to travel as a guest writer with World Vision to one of the poorest places on earth. Later this month, she’ll be traveling with 8 other bloggers to see the needs in Sri Lanka, speak about what World Vision is doing to relieve suffering, and summon everyone within the sound of her voice to help—now.
I am not only accepting of this trip; I'm excited and honored to be holding the ropes for her back home.
But more than that, I can look back on the 16 years I have known Joy, and nod with a smile as I ponder the way God has been fashioning her for this trip, as only He can.
One of the things that first attracted me to Joy was a youthful, upbeat fearlessness unlike any woman I had ever known. As a Sophomore in college, she was an RA in her dorm, dealing with 8 other girls’ messy breakups, curfew violations and ongoing struggles. She was involved in too many extracurricular activities to name. Yet, she always seemed to be smiling, two steps ahead of everyone around her, and getting good grades.
In the Spring of her Junior year, she landed an internship with the Manhattan agency I was working for, after fearlessly and confidently introducing herself to my management at a campus career fair. I remember the solemnity of the moment when I discovered that she and I would be working shoulder-to-shoulder all that summer. In a strange sort of way, that’s when I knew I would marry her. There was something about her. I didn’t know a lot of small-town women who would dive head first into an internship in New York City with such determination and fearlessness.
|Joy with our daughter, Elli, who died |
in 2008 at the age of 8.
But Joy’s relentless determination to face fear in those first years was nothing. She’s had to face unthinkable grief as a mother, and unrelenting criticism as a blogger.
There have been many long days of sobs at Elli's graveside, when the fog would not lift. And there have been days when her mouse pointer hovered over the button that would put a final end to the blog she had poured herself into, because the pressure to stop being real got too intense.
It is no accident that God has allowed Joy to know unusual hardship in her life. As is the case with all who are in Christ, her challenges and suffering have proven to be divinely-appointed preparation for more fruitful ministry down the road.
As her husband, I can see so clearly that these World Vision trips are such-a-time-as-this moments for her.
Having watched her life for 16 years, I can see how Joy’s experiences uniquely suited her for her trip to Bolivia last year, and for the trip she’s about to take to Sri Lanka later this month.
This is why I’m confident that she will have the grace to face the inevitable fear and uncertainty that comes with traveling to the opposite side of the world for the first time; that she will see the needs in Sri Lanka with fresh eyes; and that she will use her words to break through the barriers her readers may have to helping. And she’ll do it with the same confidence she’s had all along.
This is too wonderful for me.