the next thing


I can hear the shrill chirping of crickets outside the window and, underneath, the steady roar of a far-away and far-up airplane. It isn’t the one I’m listening for, the one my husband boarded this morning. That one, at the minute, is somewhere over Saudi Arabia. This time tomorrow he will have arrived at his destination–on the opposite side of the world. On my screen I’ve been watching the little cartoon plane creep along its blue dotted arc on flight tracker off and on all afternoon. Right now he’s just west of Iraq.

Many, Americans at least, would call it a “vision trip” but that language always makes me uncomfortable when applied to us–as if somehow we must go and get some special vision or something in order to serve overseas. We Christians have all been given the same commission, the Great one. We all have a spot prepared in advance for us to serve in (“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10). It just takes some of us farther afield than others: it seems to us that our spot is in southeast Asia.

We’ll call it a survey trip. When it concludes some weeks hence, we he will have surveyed and, we pray, found the spot and the seminary at which we will serve. (He is also under orders to check for bears and inform Harriet promptly if any are spotted.) I remain at home to wait, to pray, and to act as lead cheerleader for any little people struggling with daddy’s prolonged absence. (Also to gestate. We are expecting baby in about 14 weeks.)

It feels momentous to us, this trip. We’ve been working up to it for about ten years. I think we both feel that it’s the beginning of a new era in our lives, a new part of our journey less predictable, less known, than the last. (Less known to us, but written in the account of our days already, see Psalm 139:16.) For that reason not going along makes me ache deep inside.

But, as leaving Daddy at the airport was harder for our children than anticipated, I’ve been greatly helped today by the need to focus on them. I didn’t think they’d realize it, exactly, but I was mistaken. On the way home it became absolutely necessary to take everyone out for doughnuts and make up silly passwords for the sister club (“Stinky Eyeballs” was today’s winner, offered by Harriet). We “had school” and did crafts and played outside (Hugh ran up to Daddy’s office window at the church and beat on the glass, calling, “Daaaaa-deeeeee!!”) and generally stayed busy. When anyone mentioned Daddy I exercised my elementary teacher’s gift of bright back-chat to such a degree that my oldest daughter told me that I clearly wasn’t missing Daddy like she does. Ha. She’ll sleep tonight.

Once everyone was asleep and silence settled in the house, the weight of it all has found a place to land–on me. I start to feel exhausted and alone and apprehensive and questions about the present and the future of my life beat me about the head as I do the dishes and line up school materials for the morning. One thought helps me at times like this: Jesus. This is not about me, this is about him. Today’s task may be small and seem somewhat unappealing: just trust and carry on with the next thing. But it is something small and unappealing I can do for Jesus. THAT is a privilege–and, with his help, we have everything we need.

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
–David Livingstone

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5 Responses to the next thing

  1. Susan says:


    It’s the sweetest name I know, as the old song goes. Lovely post. Blessings to you all.

  2. betsy says:

    Thank you, Susan!

  3. teamtabb says:

    Praying for you this week, friend.

  4. Amberly says:

    Getting caught up on my news. Praying for you all as Alex is traveling and as you move forward with God’s plans following the survey trip. And, inquiring minds want to know…were any bears spotted?

    • betsy says:

      Hi my dear! Alex has communicated that he has not spotted a single bear. He also reported to Harriet that he has asked some locals and they informed him there are no bears. (I wonder what they thought of Americans when he asked the question! ha ha!) Miss you!

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