Friday, August 20

if only i remembered earlier...

since we have moved back to the US, i've struggled a lot with a post-missionary entitlement attitude. i tend to think that i'm pretty great and that i've sacrificed so much for God that he owes me. and that's partly true. i mean, not the owing part, but the sacrifice part. by moving to palestine, jason and i put our careers on hold, gave up the chance to save up a lot of money before having kids, spent a significant time away from friends and family that we love, lived in a place that was pretty tough to live sometimes, moved to little rock when it wasn't our first choice. and that's great and all - go us. but it sure doesn't mean that God owes us anything.

but i keep thinking that it does. and i keep forgetting what has already been provided. jason got a job weeks after we got back, which is pretty amazing in this economy. our supporters generously continued supporting us for a few months after we got back so we could get our feet under us. we bought a house. we got a wonderful gift from uncle sam in april. we bought a car. we have new clothes. we go out to eat on a regular basis. we have a pool membership. we eat good food. the ac runs constantly in our house.

and those are just the material blessings. we have two beautiful, healthy kids. jason and i are both healthy. we love each other. we're making friends. we think we've found a church and are starting to get involved there. we've found outside activities that we like.

but i still find myself thinking 1) i am owed more and 2) now that i'm not a "missionary", God will not provide for us financially the way he did when we were in Palestine. oh, how wrong i am.

earlier this week, we took our car into the shop because the ac wasn't working. what we thought was a freon leak turned into needing to replace a lot of parts which took a lot of labor which cost a lot of money. and since we live in the land of excessive humidity, not fixing the ac isn't really something i'm willing to do. now, thanks for the above mentioned ways that God has provided (uncle sam mainly), we do have some savings for things like this. but, it was gonna pretty much wipe that account out. my reaction to God was something like this:

ok, God. thanks for providing this money and all, but now look. we won't have any. what if matthias falls off the couch and has to go to the er? what if hiba tries to climb a tree and falls and breaks her arm? what if our hot water heater quits working? then what are we supposed to do? i mean, i know we have other money saved, but it's for redecorating the house. and i deserve that. i bought a house that wasn't as nice as i wanted in an area that wasn't my first choice because this is where we've been called to live. so i deserve to make it nice. i mean, i gave up three years of my life in palestine for you - i deserve this. and i know we have a little money saved for fun things - but i want to go on vacation. jason wants to visit marty in china. i want to go on a cruise with christa. and i deserve that too. i mean, we need our breaks. i spent three years in palestine! i gave up three years of saving money, working, making "smart" financial decisions. it was fine while we were there, because we were missionaries and we could ask people for money. but what will we do now if something happens? how are you going to provide for us? when are you going to reward me for all that i've sacrificed for you??

i know. reading it now, it sounds pretty silly. especially with what happened next.

this morning our mechanic called to tell us the car was ready. the ac is running great and we can pick it up whenever we want. and then he said, "oh, and the good news is that someone from your church came by and paid for it".

and here's the really funny thing - we don't really have a church.

i'm glad that God deals with us gently when we need him to. yesterday, i had completely overlooked all of the ways He has provided for me - both in palestine and since we've been back. i'd put his way of providing for me into a little box and tucked it away labeled "things God does for you when you're a missionary". i'd limited the way that he could choose to provide for me and ignored all sorts of ways that he has and is providing for me. instead of being thankful for His love, grace, and provision i was focused on how awesome i was and how much i deserved. and instead of slapping me in the face (which is, in fact, what i deserved), Jesus paid for the ac in my car. i hope next time i'll remember.


Peter and Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter and Jane said...

hi Sarah,
This is great heartfelt stuff, we miss u not being here, you and Jason were such generous givers to so many people when u were here.
You shared your lives with people and really showed people in Palestine how to sacrificicailly love by offering yourselves. You also showed the people that there are some great Americans out there, who really love Palestinians.

sarah said...

aww, thanks jane! we miss you guys too!

Stefanie said...

Sarah, this is one of my favorite blog posts I have ever read. Thanks for your honesty ... I had never thought of "retired" missionaries having those types of insecurities about how God will provide, but I bet it's pretty common. I appreciate the perspective and your heart. We love you guys & can't wait to see you again!