when we’ve traveled nearly the length of the beam

When we were married, we knew two things about our future. We knew we wanted to serve as overseas workers in theological education and we knew that it was going to take us a while to get there. Alex had a strong desire to complete a Ph.D. beforehand and we both had school debt. It could take up to ten years–so we dubbed it The Ten Year Plan. It involved both of us working for four years, living below our means and paying off debt, Alex taking the GRE, Alex reentering graduate school for a second master’s degree, finding a way to pay for this, beginning our family, applying for Ph.D. programs, and hopefully completing a Ph.D. in three years at Oxford or Cambridge.

It has been said that this may be our plan but it is important to test it and step in it only so far as God leads or provides. So we have, and he has. He has provided homes, jobs, churches, friendships, scholarships, and opened the doors ahead of us. My dad gave me a car as a college senior that lasted us for the entire six years we needed a car. We carry a reasonable debt load at the minute and we’ve lived without a full-time income since about 2007. We are beginning Year Nine of The Ten Year Plan.

As Alex said recently, the plan has always been like the light of a flashlight, stretching out ahead of us and illuminating our path. We’ve always seen clearly what step to take next. But we’re not holding the flashlight and we’ve traveled nearly the length of the beam. We can still see around our feet but if that beam doesn’t move forward, we will soon step into the dark.

The approaching edge of the beam threatens my peace of mind daily. My feet would like to falter–though we are still on the illuminated part of the path. How very much I’d like to be the one holding the light. I’d like to beam it far into the shadows: five years, ten years down the road. Even if I could just flick it ahead for a moment, for a reassuring glimpse of our family, finally and happily settled somewhere for the long term. I want to hear a few words of the language we’ll be speaking and catch a glimpse of a community that we won’t be leaving after two or three years.

God hasn’t shown most of us the path that far ahead yet–and he gives us everything we need. Therefore we do not need to know. The things we need to know we already know–we just need to believe them. That every one of our days were written in his book when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16) and that he knows the plans he has for us, plans for hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). That we may plan our way but God directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). And that as we trust in him, he will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).


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8 Responses to when we’ve traveled nearly the length of the beam

  1. Mandy says:

    “Give us today, our daily bread….”
    Thanks for sharing your life, Betsy.

  2. Mert Tabbut says:

    Love, love, love your post. One day at a time, one step at a time. God has been faithful and He will continue to be so. He never changes and that is a wonderful thing. It was so good to see you in Oxford and catch up over ” Byron’s Proper Burgers. “m I never thought of as burger being proper before, ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. therigneys says:

    I remember when you first told me about the Ten Year Plan. You were in year 2 at the time. I have watched year after year how faithful our God has been to you and Alex, He has never failed you- not once. Would He do any different now?

    I can’t wait to see what God has in store for year 10 and beyond. I can’t wait to thank God with you for his steadfast love and faithfulness towards you.

    I love you, dear friend.

  4. Betsy, thank you so much for sharing this!!! I love the flashlight imagery. We stepped out into the dark a year and a half ago when Eric quit his job needing a sabbatical and having no idea what to do next. Micah was 5 months old so neither of us were sleeping and I had just left my teaching job to stay home. He currently drives a bus for handicapped people 50+ hours a week and we are trusting that God will eventually use it for our good. We’re praying that God will show Eric what to do next even thought it feels like the illuminating flashlight isn’t anywhere around! I’ll pray that He’ll move the flashlight for you guys, too! 🙂

  5. Susan Sellars says:

    My daughter gave me a t-shirt that says “God’s Plan, Hope, Peace, Future. Jeremiah 29:11”. I wear it to my chemo treatments. Before I even started reading this post, I felt like I needed to re-read that scripture. Thank you for being such a wonderful witness and blessing to me.
    Susan S.

  6. Pingback: limbo, far south of certainty | part of the main

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