Furlough is half over. As I sit here overlooking the frozen wasteland that is central Minnesota in January, I can’t help but think about my coworkers in PNG with their flip-flops and sunglasses, going along their merry way with no snowpants on. The grass is always greener. Sometimes literally.
God has been so good to us during our furlough. We bought a van, saw family and friends, took road trips, roasted marshmallows, taught Micah to drive, rode some roller coasters, went to camp, started school, joined sports, petted some horses, had birthday parties, and even got a little Bible translation and lesson writing done. Around Christmas time we had a few struggles, like inflamed livers and the flu, and we have spent the last ten days or so in a Covid quarantine, but we know you have to take the bad with the good.
Today, like everyone else at this time of year, we look forward: This week the kids began their second semester of “real” school. Cole and Micah will be working to make some money to pay for their trip to the LIFE conference this summer. When school is out we will head off on our east coast road trip, and sometime in July we will head back across the pond to our other life.
This furlough I have realized that the more time I spend there, the more PNG feels like home. I spent so much of our first few years overseas aching with homesickness and longing to be back here in the US. Then, somehow, it changed. It’s not that America no longer feels like home to me—it still does—but PNG also feels like home. I have family here and family there. I have friends here and friends there. I have stuff here and stuff there. How lucky am I?
But it took a long time for me to feel like that. And if I had gotten what I wanted all those years go—to return to the US for good—I wouldn’t be sitting here thanking God for giving me two homes. What I wanted back then was an end to the stress and the effort; I wanted an easier life. What I wanted was not as good as this.
As you think about what you want this year—for yourself or your family or your career—remember that your plans will never be as good as God’s. Commit yourself to doing what God wants in spite of what you might want. (If you need a reminder of what God wants you to do, read a book from the New Testament.) It’s hard to do. The world will tell you that it’s unnecessary—that you can be a good enough Christian without giving up what you want. The world will also tell you that what you want is the most important thing, and that you deserve to have it. Don’t listen. I mean, come on. With the state the world is in, is that really who you want giving you advice?