This project has has been years in the making, full of setbacks, doubts and fears. I scrapped all I had and began writing anew. I don’t know where this will go, but I’m excited. Thanks for journeying with me. -Ryan
Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain! (1 Chron. 4:10 NIV)
I grant what you have asked. // I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (1 Chron. 4:10b, Jeremiah 29:11)
I will never know what it means to fall to the bottom of a well.
Thankfully, few of us do. But that is an image that has been with me for more than 10 years. For many who know me, this may be new. That’s why I begin Dear Tired, here. Little did I know that a simple yes to a friend would usher me into a story of new pain that would turn my eyes to hope. This simple yes would change the trajectory of my life.
Shortly before my 1st journey to Africa began in 2004, I met a precious young child named George over AOL Instant Messenger. A friend of mine was volunteering at an orphanage in Asia where George lived. My friend had asked me to chat with George to help improve his English. Little did I know this small act of saying yes to a friend would help change the direction of my life.
July 2004: Chat with George; Very hot Saturday evening (or really EARLY Sunday), ~3am:
Continue on as planned to go to graduate school at Harvard? Or go to Zimbabwe on a 2 week missions trip with my church I was about to leave behind if I went to Harvard? I had to decide later that morning and was up late because I couldn’t. I was wrestling with God and discerning – or the other way around. Then, George suddenly came online & said hello.
George knew nothing of the most important decision I faced that night – likely the most significant in my life up to that point. He didn’t need to. But as I chatted with him, I asked George what he would do with his life if he could do anything in the world. Without much pause, he replied, “I would go to Harvard.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I hear if you go to Harvard you can do anything!”
Right then, as I read and reread and reread his answer – with this boy completely unaware that I was contemplating Harvard or Zimbabwe – a peace that can only come from God descended upon me.
I leaned back in my chair, smiled, and said to myself, “it’s decided. I’m not going to Harvard.”
Here was a young boy living in a remote area of Asia, in an orphanage. How did he get there? From everything I recall learning from others who knew him…Shortly after he was born, George’s 2 parents made the excruciatingly painful decision to give up their son because they believed they lacked the resources or abilities to care for him adequately. Knowing the orphanage in the community only took children who had lost both parents, they decided to jump into a well and take their own lives.
Let me type that again. They decided to jump into a well and take their owns lives, believing there was no other way to provide for their new son.
The angst of passing on a childhood dream of attending Harvard rushed out of me. I felt George’s answer was an invitation from God to worry less, trust more, and watch God do infinitely more to usher hope out of darkness than I could imagine. I was off to Zimbabwe, in part because a kid I’ve never met told me he wanted to go to Harvard. The reality was, I could go and do anything already and I wanted to see how my life could be used to help prevent parents making the painful choice his made.
I knew nothing about Africa, orphan care, or most anything I would encounter, but I knew God loved George and me. God wasn’t asking me to be God, but He was asking me to be faithful. He was asking me to say yes. Nothing more, nothing less than yes.
The grand adventures we look back on are merely steps of obedience, with eyes open to see all God is doing all around us, all the time.
With you, He will remain. May you find rest in that truth.
Until next week,
Dear reader, I’d love to hear your thoughts about what stories or questions you have about doing sustainable work, especially in hard situations. “Tired“ seems to reign in our culture. Know that I’m praying for you and know you are loved.