Sunday, August 30, 2009

Missions, Marriage and the Providence of God

There's actually a lot more to the story between meeting the Border's Guy and the ring on my finger.

Let me give a little history. Probably 2 years before I met James, I had a pretty intense time with the Lord...God brought me to utter honesty with myself, and through that, I fell in love with Jesus like I never had before. This was on the heels (as it usually is) of significant heartbreak. During that time, I brought before the Lord the question of moving overseas. Missions had grown to be a big part of my life, and I really wrestled with whether or not He wanted me to go into full-time foreign missions. During that 2 yr time, I had pursued teaching overseas, but God closed that door when I took guardianship of my nephew Mike, who was 15 at the time. My plan was that when Mike graduated (in '08), I would pray again and see what God would have me do.

Well, in the summer of '07, I went on a trip to Brazil and when I got home, I was really feeling like I should pursue missions once again. Mike would be graduating the following spring and I felt like I needed to start planning. So, I was ready to just jump in and start looking for opportunities. As I was about to embark on that, I clearly sensed God say to my heart, 'Katie, give me a chance to order your steps." So, I just felt to be still for a bit and see what God would bring to me.

Not long after that, I met James in church. Within weeks, I was completely in a tailspin. Was this from God? Was this a distraction? Should I not even get to know him? Would I fall in love and then God would send me away? Did this mean I didn't love Jesus? I felt tortured in my heart the more I got to know him. I definitely sensed something between us, but I was so afraid of the potential conflict between following my feelings and obeying God. Was it too much to hope that maybe they were the same thing?

I spent a lot of time praying about it, and all along the way, God used many different ways to encourage me to keep going forward (this article, for example). But I still felt so guilty. I had told James from the beginning that moving overseas was a possibility for me, but he felt peace about us continuing to go forward and just trusting God.

By November, my heart was so tortured that I knew I had to put it out there and see what God wanted me to do. One Sunday, our pastor gave a message about persevering and doing the will of God. I felt so confused because I didn't even know what that was for me. So, I went up for prayer and just laid it out before God. "Lord, show me your will and I will do it, whatever it is. If you want me to go overseas, then I will go. If you want me to stay and pursue this with James, then I will do that. Please just make it clear to me. I can't hear you in my heart because I'm so confused and conflicted. Please show me in some other way." A woman at the front prayed for me, and she encouraged me to just trust the Lord and that He would make it clear.

Following that service, James had mentioned to me that he really wanted to go on a short-term trip the following summer. I encouraged him to do it; as for me, I didn't know if that was something I'd be doing; I could be planning to move overseas at that time - for good. On our way out of church, we ran into Jim and Victoria, a young married couple who was on the short-term committee. I asked them if the trips for next year had been planned, and they said, no, they hadn't been planned yet. James said to them, "You know, I'd really like to go to Nigeria." They joked and said, "Katie, you should lead a team to Nigeria, then." [Jim and Victoria told me after the fact that they had said this to me. I had no recollection of this.] So, that was that...for the moment.

So, nervously I waited for the answer that week. I remember having a conversation with my parents about all this that Monday night. I told them about church and they said, "But Katie, you teach in a Christian school. You are doing missions!" I agreed, but I couldn't pretend that I hadn't been thinking about moving overseas before I met James. I had to see what God wanted me to do.

Well, the next day, I was about to walk into my missions class that I teach when I heard someone calling my name. "Katie! Katie! Miss Mauro! Miss Mauro!" I turned and saw that it was Pastor Rich, our missions pastor, and John Long, head of the short-term missions committee. "Katie, we just heard from the Lord!" they said, half-joking, half-serious. Oh gosh, here it heart froze and my eyes opened wide. "Katie, we are taking a team to Nigeria next summer and we want you to lead it!"

Everything started spinning around me as their words sunk in. Short term trip. To Nigeria. They wanted me to lead it. Wait - James wanted to go to Nigeria. Oh my answer! It wasn't either/or - missions or James. Here it was - God was giving me both! This was what He wanted me to do in missions. It wasn't to go overseas for good. For now, the plan was to lead the short-term team to Nigeria.

I gave James the news that Wednesday, and a smile came over his face as he processed all of those details and the ramifications sunk in. And, it was that Saturday - December 1st - that James officially asked me to date him exclusively.

It took a while for this answer to prayer to really sink in - that it really wasn't God's will for me to move overseas. But thankfully, later that school year, God made it clear that not only was He not sending me away, but that He actually wanted me to stay at the school I was at.

I somehow always thought that it had to be either missions or marriage. It seemed too much for me to believe or ask God for both. But in His providence, He proved that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I could have dared to ask (Eph. 3:20).

1 comment:

  1. I am LOVING reading your posts! Keep them coming!!