A friend of mine recently asked me about my experience at The Babybox. She asked how I was able to do it - to see a documentary and then have the follow-through to go there and see it and experience it for myself. How much credit can I give God for that, she asked.
I’ve been rolling that question around, and here’s all I can come up with…
A lot of people live planned-out lives. I have great respect for them and have always wanted to be that kind of person. These are the people who say they’d like to be married by 25, have 3 kids starting when they’re 27, homeschool them all, etc, etc. And they actually do it. It’s really quite amazing, and very much a mystery to me.
I, however, have never gotten there. I’m just not that kind of person (and I think I’m learning to be ok with that?). Don’t get me wrong - I love to make plans, lists, think and dream about the future. I love to have goals and work hard to reach them, whether professionally, personally, or financially. I am all about being prepared and putting things in order. But over the course of my life I have noticed a trend… somehow, things often take an unexpected turn. I end up waiting long for the things I thought would be obvious and most easily attained, and find the things I thought I’d have to work for the hardest falling into my lap while I’m looking in the other direction. Maybe someday I’ll write a book about that.
So, mentally, my first response to her question was: I definitely did not make this happen. At least it sure didn’t feel that way. But actually, I did buy the plane tickets. I did make the contact and find the translator and get in the bus that morning. I guess I did. So, maybe what I mean is that I didn’t map it out. I didn’t determine to do this thing, and then march through the checklist to make it happen.
I didn’t plan it. I didn’t even ask for it.
Or did I?
Maybe in my heart, in my little office, when I saw that trailer for the first time in 2013… maybe a tiny spark of faith whispered inaudibly, “Could I do that?”.
Then life continued. I went to work and took care of my family. My heart was not the same, but also I didn’t carry a heavy burden or start the planning wheels turning. It wasn’t for years - until my friend who was in Budapest as she transitioned to a teaching job in Korea said, “You are welcome to Korea. When you come, you are always welcome to stay with me!”... (I think I laughed out loud and made some comment about God dropping a couple thousand dollars in my lap) - it was only then that the practical details started becoming concrete, and maybe even slightly possible in my thinking.
Something that has meant a lot to me in the last year or so is a study I did comparing the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11 with their stories as told in the Old Testament. If you want to see a clear picture of real Reality, check those stories out side-by-side.
We all know the story from Genesis 18 when Sara was in the tent and heard God’s promise of a child to her husband. We remember well that she laughed, and then denied it- to God! That makes me smile every time.
But in Hebrews 11:11, it says, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”
Ummm… where’s the laughter and the doubt and the hiding in that picture? Oh, it’s there. The heroic Hebrews 11 Sara is the same person as the insecure, unsure, Genesis 18 Sara. So why the seemingly massive difference in re-telling?
Faith is not something that grows in a sterile environment. It grows in dirt, among rocks and thorns and choking roots. It’s not that everything is in place and then faith happens. It’s that somewhere in Sara’s doubt and misgivings, with all her own ideas and understandings, with all her hurt and mistrust (remember that she was barren - imagine the years of pain and shame), somehow, there was a whisper of faith in her. I don’t think she would have called herself a hero. Nor would Abraham or Samson or Moses have called themselves heroes. But if we look into their stories, into the people that they were, we will see and hear their whispers, and see how their real, dirty, gritty lives were actually the work of God.
Both Pastor Lee and his wife spoke about doing God’s work. They spoke about it like it was a fact, clear and absolute.
Each of our lives are so unique- our stories (past and present) are powerful gifts… and God has a work for us that is equally as unique and powerful. We tend to see the dirt and rocks and thorns as impossibilities that need to be cleared away before the important stuff can happen. But it seems to me like that’s not how it goes.
Pastor Lee and his wife’s ministry in the Jusarang Community and the amazing work of The Babybox began in the deep soil of loving their son. They cared for him day-in and day-out for years, in the most intensive and back-breaking ways. I can imagine that in those days not everything they did felt like God’s work.
Maybe it felt like sleep deprivation and financial difficulty. Maybe it felt lonely and impossible.
But they loved… and in that love, fear learned its place.
And decades later, we know them as heroes. Not because they have shouted their efforts from the rooftops, but because in the underground work and dirtiness of real life, they have had the boldness to whisper by faith.
So, how did this happen? How much credit can I give God? How much did I actually do? I’m sorry to say that I don’t have those answers. All I know is that I have learned again a lesson worth repeating: He knows me. He hears me. He is a big God with a really big and different way of looking at my life.
Maybe this experience has been so personal because i didn’t feel like it was my doing. It always felt like a gift. I was just walking along, and doors kept appearing. Without knocking, they swung open. One step at a time, one real-life decision or phone call or conversation… the sky didn’t open and a dove descend to let me know I was doing the right thing.
But in my heart there was a whisper. And it’s still there.
It says there is no fear in Love.