“Wrap your arms around me”

“Wrap your arms around me”

Journal entry from April 2011:

1 week in Cap Skirring:
-Trying to unpack (with no closets and minimal furniture)
-Cockroaches everywhere
-Trying to find a place for everything
-Dealing with Roxy peeing in the house, not eating, killing someone’s chickens
-Piles of moldy clothes on the bed, everything needing to be washed by hand
-I don’t speak Wolof
-I don’t speak Jola
-Muddy tiles, no mop
-Mosquitoes, risk of malaria
-Visitors and neighbors stopping by
-No running water
-Here for the unforeseen future

I won’t ever forget those days, especially those initial days, of living in the village. It was hard, lonely, isolating, and I wrote in my journal, this list of struggles, and a prayer where I asked God to wrap his arms around me and give me his strength. So many times I’ve prayed that same prayer. It’s my go-to when I don’t know what else to pray. It’s a picture I have in my mind of God: never far, always listening, stable and dependable, strong, working on my behalf even when I lose sight of hope, even when I make God seem small. It’s my go-to prayer when I’m overwhelmed and feel like I’m by myself out at sea, on a little boat, being tossed around, riding out the situation while holding my breath and hoping I don’t drown in circumstances that are beyond me.

I prayed that same prayer, that God would wrap his arms around me and give me strength, every day of the IVF treatments we did, and even more so through the last one. It was our fourth and final attempt, our last chance at having a baby, and this was after we had already exhausted all of our resources. Humanly speaking, that is. God works best beyond the realm of the possible. But when you’re going through it, and you have no idea what the outcome will be this time, it’s easy to forget that he’s the God of a million miracles. Miracles we havent’t even seen or experienced- or even dreamt of yet. But man it’s in the waiting where I needed God’s presence, that reminder that he’s stable when my thoughts and emotions are all over – tempted to fear, tempted to question, and tempted to doubt.

“I’m weak, God! I need you. I can’t see you. I can’t hear you. But I know you’re there. Show me. Let me feel your presence in a time where I’m desperate for your presence.” It’s that familiar plea I’ve prayed in so many situations. As a new arrival in the daunting village, when riots broke out in the capital and tear gas blew into our home, when the turbulence was more than I thought I could handle, when we lost another embryo, when another move and another transition felt like too much, when we were setting sail to our new home in the Casamance, and the thought of capsizing (as one ferry had done on the same route) tortured me, when I was about to be put under for my first egg retrieval surgery. “I’m weak, God! I need you. I can’t see you. I can’t hear you. But I know you’re there. Show me. Let me feel your presence in a time where I’m desperate for your presence.”

It’s interesting to me how different these situations are from each other, but nevertheless I had a need for God and he didn’t ignore me. He didn’t belittle me for my fears or concerns or yell at me for acting childish and not having more faith, even though he’s proved himself time and time again.

When I pleaded for him to come near, he did. He always did.

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” George Mueller

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