Sarah-Faith’s ice cream toy truck. Last Christmas, Cliff’s Mum gave our firstborn a little singing ice cream toy truck that fulfilled all the grand, eternal longings of a little two year old. Yet, the impending move to Singapore meant leaving behind what she loved most.
“Maybe we can bring it with us!” Cliff would say, almost seriously, giving his fatherly tenderness away.
As we commenced packing our lives into five suitcases, a question arose within me: What if it’s bad for them?
Perhaps, that’s the hardest question parents will ever ask, regarding the decisions we make for our children.
In a season of moving again, our 11th big move in the past six years of marriage over four countries, we’ve received our fair share of wagging fingers, not less now with two little ones in tow.
“Have you thought about their future?”
“Aren’t you robbing them of a stable life?”
“Isn’t it unhealthy to live this way?”
Yet, both Cliff and I know, that every move has not been a whim but a decision borne out of prayer.
I did notice, however, that since having children, my worries were amplified.
What about their education, security, development, healthcare?
“What? You don’t even know where you’ll stay when you move to Singapore? You only have a few weeks left!”
My heart sank, as the temporary accommodation options we were presented were either exorbitant or unsuitable. When a place within budget came up, it was a 1-bedroom apartment. For a family of four, it would be a squeeze.
We were desperate. After all, we needed a place to stay for at least the first month while looking for longer term accommodation for the remaining year and a half where I had to serve out my contract as a medical doctor with the government.
One day, a volunteer from Kitesong Global who lives in Australia and whom I’ve never met reached out to me about her family friend from Melbourne, who has a vacant 3-bedroom apartment in Singapore.
“Would you like to stay there for the first month?” came the question.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt God ask, “Is there anything your family needs that I can’t provide?”
Later on, I had goosebumps when I discovered the divine “coincidence”- that the owner’s sister, who was staying in the apartment temporarily, had planned to move out the very afternoon we landed in Singapore.
Where we fear to tread, God is already there.
One day, half-jokingly but also earnestly, I told Cliff, “I’m praying for a Singaporean Sarah to love on Sarah-Faith.”
Sarah is a close friend of ours in the States who is a homeschooling mum with two young sons, and who looks after a little girl who goes to their home every day.
With me returning back to Singapore to complete my work contract before we, God-willing, returned to serve in a developing country, I longed for a Mama friend to help Cliff with caring for our exuberant toddler for a few hours each day when I was at work, so he could work on his part time theological studies and get some rest.
But I wanted someone who would love on Sarah-Faith like family, and who loved God deeply.
For months, I kept this prayer deep in my heart, sharing it regularly only with Cliff and with God. It was a ridiculous prayer, especially since homeschooling is uncommon in Singapore.
A month ago, a lady whom I’d met only once at her wedding years ago reached out to me via text and said, “I would very very much like to take Sarah-Faith for homeschooling lessons, if you think it’s a good idea. My husband and I prayed about it and are convicted not to charge you and Cliff for it, because it’s our ministry to you both- SF would be like family to us.”
Like family to us.
Tears welled up in my eyes. In yet another divine “coincidence”, I learnt that she, too, has two little boys.
When no one knew my heart’s desires, God did. He provided our “Singaporean Sarah.” I learned, that truly, could anyone love our children more than God does?
One day, I chanced upon a photo of this Mama’s younger son. In the background, was the exact ice-cream toy truck Sarah-Faith has. It was then I was told, that the ice cream toy truck was bought by none other than the little boy’s Grandma- last Christmas too.
Tears built up behind my eyes.
In yet another uncanny coincidence, I felt God ask me, “Have I ever left you or your family to sink when you obeyed Me to walk on water?”
Truly, God is ready to meet us on the other side, even when we fail to see Him.
Days later, at a farewell visit, a close friend of Cliff gave us a big set of Megablocks for our children. As soon as he gave the gift to us, my heart sank again, knowing there was no way we could bring it back to Singapore for them to enjoy.
Two days later, a friend from Singapore who volunteered to help us collate kid items for our children before we landed, texted me, “I set aside this for you. Would you and your children like to have it?”
It was a box of Megablocks, exactly the same as the ones we had to leave behind.
When no one knew my heart’s desires for our children’s play and growth, God did. He provided an identical set of Megablocks, an identical ice cream toy truck, as if asking me once more: Can you love your children more than I can?
Weeks passed and through the collective love of strangers and friends, we had most of the items we needed to help our children settle back in Singapore, besides housing (which we are still praying for) and one other item.
Interestingly, no one had the co-sleeper (a little basket) I needed for our infant to sleep in.
Just last week, a friend’s friend reached out to me, “Is there anything else you need?”
Half-heartedly I asked if she might have a co-sleeper, knowing the chances were extremely slim. So many mothers I had already connected with did not have this specific item. I texted her a photo of the one our baby was sleeping in, a gift that someone had handed down to us second hand.
“Oh my, I have it, identical to the one in your photo! And I have two! Would you like both?”
Again and again, through this series of uncanny coincidences, I felt God ask, “Is there anything your family needs that I cannot provide?”
Clothes, a stroller, car seats came in, from friends and people I have never met.
Just last night, as Cliff and I started to wonder about long term accommodation, a patient I had met more than ten years ago when I was a medical student, who said I had touched her life then, offered to help us with our housing search as she’s since become a real estate agent.
“I don’t need the commission fee. Could you just cover my petrol cost?”
It made me wonder- What if our stepping out in faith is bad for our children? But, what if it’s not? What if it’s good, even necessary for them?
I am constantly worrying- about whether our children might be negatively impacted by constant change, whether Sarah-Faith’s eczema might worsen with the move, by whether someday, all this might just take its toll on us and bite us in the back.
But more recently, I felt Him ask, “What if, the questions you asked were not ‘What if this jeopardizes our stability? What if the risks are too great? What if we lose what we now have?”, but rather, ‘What if we trust God?” How would our lives be led differently?
I admit, it would be far easier for all of us to stay in Canada, in a home we can finally call ours, with our green backyard overlooking a quiet forest in uneventful surburbia. It would save us the cost of long flights, the inconvenience of packing, the anxiety of having no place to stay when we land, the stresses of constantly moving, the uncertainty of entering yet another unknown future in a rural place with questionable security, healthcare and education when we finally do serve in a developing country again, God-willing.
Yet, few of us consider the danger of staying safe.
Perhaps, too few of us understand the perils of living our lives in comfort and luxury when we fail to realize how much we deprive ourselves and our children of the many miracles, great and small, that God orchestrates on our behalf when we let go of what means so much to us.
Perhaps, too few of us understand the grave crime we commit, of robbing our children of the opportunity to witness the reality of God, when we hold back out of fear.
“What if stepping out is bad for our children?” We ask innocently.
But- what if NOT stepping out was a far worse reality than what we could possibly imagine, for us AND our children?
Surely in the physical, we would be safer, more secure, more stable. The less radical life would certainly be more convenient.
But what if the consequences of NOT walking in faith were graver because we exchanged the spiritual foundations of our children, what could have grown to become a sea of faith, for sinking sand?
If you’re holding back today out of fear for what might happen to you or your children, know this- that God’s already on the other side. For everything you’ve surrendered or left behind or given up, know that He loves you and your children far too much to leave you to sink.
For when you walk on water, there’ll be an ice cream truck waiting for you on the other side.
And there will He be, too.
* if you might know of a 3-4 BR place for rental in the west/north/central of Singapore, please let us know. Thank you.