As we've been processing the fact that our plans for France are delayed, our minds so quickly go to the "silver linings" that can be seen in this change. It has been disappointing to put things on hold, but it is less disappointing because we know that there are some perks.
We got to be in Virginia for Christmas! Initially, we thought we'd be in France for the holidays, but this delay allowed us to be with Lindsay's family. This also means that we will be transitioning overseas later in the spring, which should be an easier transition for the kids (and us) than moving over Christmas.
Lindsay has the opportunity to go to Ethiopia again with Be There Ministries. This is the organization that we traveled with last summer on our trip to Africa. This is an amazing opportunity, and she gets the privilege of helping as they launch a school for kids that live on the streets in Addis Ababa. They will be setting up classrooms, stocking supplies, and planning for staff. This is all right up Lindsay's alley! She is so good at this stuff and we can't wait for her to get there!
I get to take another semester of classes. Logistically speaking, this is nice because I'll be much closer to completing my Master's in Applied Linguistics. I was planning to take courses slowly over the next couple of years, but this opens the door for things to happen a lot more quickly. Even besides the logistics though, I love these classes. I have been looking forward to a class called "Tone Analysis" for a while now and I get to take it this semester! (I know this makes me a little weird, and I'm fine with that!) School is fun for me, so this silver lining just means I get to prolong the fun a little.
And these little perks are great! Clearly, we'd rather be progressing toward our goal of Bible translation in Africa, but when things don't go as planned, the silver linings are an extra little benefit. But there's a fine line between a silver lining and the source of our hope.
If none of these little benefits had happened, would we still trust God's plan in this delay?
Is God still good even if we can't see any of the silver linings that might come from seeming disappointments? If we are putting our hope in the silver lining, we will someday be let down when something bad happens and we can't see the benefit that comes from it. While it's great to talk about the things that are better about being in the States a little longer, our hope has to be in something much greater.
Colossians 3:1-4 says:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This passage reminds us of the critical truth of our salvation. Our old selves have been put to death and we have been raised again with Christ! Therefore, our identity, our hope, our goals, and our minds should all be aligned with those of Christ. Setting our minds on earthly things looks like putting our hope in the silver linings or in our job or in our plans or in our schedule.
But we are supposed to set our minds on things that are above! That looks like verse 4. Our hope is that when Christ appears (the one through whom we are alive), we will be brought into glory with him! God promised once before that he would send Christ to us and that was fulfilled at Christmas, which we just celebrated. He came through. And He will come through again!
No matter what goes wrong, even if 2021 turns out to be somehow worse than 2020, we can always rest on the fact that His ultimate plan will be fulfilled. Those of us that have been raised with Christ will be brought into glory when Christ returns.
That is good news, and that hope holds more water than any silver lining ever could.