God was so faithful on this most recent research trip to New Mexico. While I had a list of places to go and questions to ask, I really didn’t know how it would all work out or whom I would get to see—yet I sensed the Lord’s leading to go, and tried to trust He would guide me. And He did, beyond all I could have imagined.
One of the first amazing “God-things” proved the last-minute lunch with a long-term missionary couple I had only had phone and email contact with before. Such a precious time, an honor and privilege—and sometimes heartbreak—to hear their stories, be humbled by their humility and faithfulness, hear how God is working and yet also how much damage and hurt remains yet in need of healing among the Native peoples of this land. And then to learn the husband just “happened” to be going to visit two elderly friends who had attended boarding school the next morning, and to be able to go along. And at the end of those visits, to learn he also knew a Navajo Code Talker who lived close by and who might be willing to meet with me—a dream I had already set aside, for this trip, anyway. And to have this gracious elderly couple make time to meet with me that very evening (I was to fly home the next day) and hear a true World War II hero tell me his story.
There were so many other times of His guiding, protecting hand: a friend’s suggestion of the microfilm newspapers in the local college library, where I found local 1911 newspapers from the exact weeks of my novel; stopping at a trading post in Shiprock (see right) that turned out to have begun as the same one I mention in my story; a special museum display in Farmington focusing on the period I’ve been writing about; thinking I’d lost (or had stolen) my credit card, only to find it between the car seats while I waited on hold on the phone to cancel it.
I was in awe of the Lord’s faithfulness, His sovereignty over so many things that would have seemed chance, if they hadn’t been so clearly not. But then I came home, to the welcome of my loving family, but also all the “real life” challenges and problems that I’d partially forgotten for a few days. To health problems for which we’ve been seeking wisdom and asking His healing for years, to uncertainties and questions about the future, to guidance needed in so many areas. To the discouragement, and even tears, that I guess come with living in a fallen world.
Why is it, I wonder, that sometimes we’re so much more aware of God’s faithfulness and presence and power than others? Maybe it’s so we learn to trust Him by faith, even when we don’t see. And maybe the times when we do see Him come through so clearly help us to trust Him in those times when we don’t see how He is going to. But those thoughts don’t always seem to help much in the heartache of the moment.
I was struck my an email this week where the writer mentioned seeing himself in the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness—having seen God’s incredible faithfulness and power in striking Egypt with plagues, delivering them from slavery, parting the Red Sea, but then quickly losing faith when they lacked food or drink. And I thought, “Yep, me too.” I guess it isn’t that the Lord will necessarily shield us from difficulties—He wants us to learn to trust Him to always be faithful through them. And He is faithful, and always guides us, even if seemingly just in the nick of time, He is never late. But how quickly I forget!
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” ~Lamentations 3:22-24