As I hugged Dave goodbye, lingering in his embrace, the next 5 weeks without him loomed before me. I felt the slight pressure of stress pressing on my chest. I took a deep breath. And then I remembered that Ryan would also leave in several weeks for his Outdoor Education trip (OE). The pressure in my chest became heavier. This would be the first time since we’ve lived overseas that I would be left at home alone for that long a period of time.
“Just breathe, Linda,” I thought to myself, calling to mind words that the Lord had whispered to me recently in preparation for this time: “Even if you’re apart from your husband and sons, you are never alone.” That truth began to warm my heart and chase away the stressful feelings.
The previous few months had been mentally and emotionally challenging. I felt like I had been careening down a rough road, continually jarred by the potholes of depression and anxiety. I found their grip to be stronger than I had experienced for the last five years.
I was nervous about the time apart from Dave and Ryan because feeling isolated can be a trigger for me. But God was bringing me out of that dip in my emotional state, and He had confirmed to me that Dave traveling to the States for this seminar was part of His plan. I just had to decide if I was going to trust Him or not.
As I had been mentally preparing for Dave’s trip, a verse began to stand out to me: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. I listened to the book of Philippians on my Bible app, especially attentive to chapter 4. I began to appreciate the context of that verse. Paul was saying that he had found the secret to being content in every situation – whether in plenty or in want. He could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I decided that this would be my theme verse for the next 5 weeks while Dave was gone. I made a new note in my phone and added Philippians 4:13, as well as a few other verses that comforted or challenged me, and a quote that I thought would be helpful to read every day during that time.
As I read through those verses each day, especially Philippians 4:13, I tried to gauge in my spirit if I was truly believing them. If I was having a rough day and felt myself wavering in doubt I would spend extra time re-reading the verses until I could feel my faith sprouting like a seed.
I continue to learn that I can’t do it on my own. So I reached out and asked for prayer. God continually answered. I also asked Him for tasks to keep me busy. He graciously timed certain projects at MAF just when I needed something more to do. Helping Ryan prepare and pack for OE allowed us to spend time together before he left.
There were plenty of ways to help with OE after the kids left. I picked up 120 frozen chickens midweek and stored them on base in 3 different freezers. Others helped me gather them early Saturday morning, put them in coolers and bring them to the MAF hangar for the OE supply flight. We also gathered and shipped baked goods that ladies in the community made to help feed the high schoolers for almost 2 weeks in a very remote location. These tasks kept me busy and allowed me to help out the OE effort.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for our family during this time! I knew people were praying because God gave me such peace and contentment—even when both Dave and Ryan were gone. I had small times of feeling anxious, but they were manageable. Dave’s travels all went smoothly and he was spared from getting COVID-19 or having any travel delays. And Ryan and the other high schoolers safely finished OE. Ryan was appreciative of how it pushed him out of his comfort zone.
I don’t think that just because Christians pray it means everything will always happen the way we want it to. I know that we will still face challenges as we seek to do God’s will, but I have definitely felt the power of prayer during this time.
The fact that the whole high school tested negative for COVID-19 and was able to fly interior for OE was a miracle in itself! And the weather on that day was also miraculous. God cleared out the clouds for miles around and allowed all the flights to get in and out of the destination village. On a normal day, making one landing there can be very challenging because of weather. MAF was able to make 10 landings! The weather was an answer to prayer.
I have also experienced the power of Scripture—and of believing it. Paul discovered the secret to contentment in any and every situation, and I think that we can too if we are truly believing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. I don’t have this mastered by any means, but I want to learn it more and more!
Most of all I want to thank my God for His help, provision and watch-care during this time. I truly was never alone.