My knees went soft.
The dream two nights before was a premonition. But now that it was confirmed, the prospect of us being ousted out of our rented home brought tears to my eyes.
The children were playing- I drank in my grief in a single gulp and sat on the kitchen stool, moulding the pain into a smile at our little one who came to give Mama a hug.
Our lease was ending soon- we were supposed to be transiting back to the mission field, but with the closing of doors from COVID-19 and the migrant worker engagement work with WHO gaining traction, we were asked to stay for another year in Singapore.
Cliff had asked the landlord to extend our lease, and while awaiting his response, I had dreamt of us viewing other homes. “If the dream is of the Lord, then we’d best be prepared.”
True enough, two days after the dream, he said no.
I sank into the kitchen floor, overwhelmed by the familiar feeling of not knowing where we would go next, only now, weighed down by the sandstone of responsibility of being a mother to two little girls.
Were we selfish? Foolhardy, even? To think we could lead the nomadic pilgrim’s life, living lightly to be ready to say “yes, here I am” at the drop of a hat?
And yet, were we copping out to stay put in Singapore? Had we gotten comfortable to the city life? Were we choosing the easier route than venturing into the greater unknown in a developing country?
The unknown felt uncertain, yet we knew from experience, that it was the foundational necessity for the full fruition of faith. While the answer of rejection was painful, part of us knew it was the beginning of a new set of cogwheels turning to the rhythm of trust in a loving God.
Three months have passed since then. This morning, we stood amazed in our new home overlooking a beautiful forest and lake, a home gifted to us, a home far windier, quieter and more beautiful than we ever imagined possible, a home that was fully unpacked within less than two days because of the love of friends who rallied around us- testament to yet another miracle God has done in our lives.
“You’re moving again?” Is the common question we hear over and over. “That must be so hard- for you AND your kids.”
But I am learning, that suffering is the soil from which joy grows, and uncertainty is the crucible from which faith is formed.
When we say yes to Him, He never lets us down.
Having had 8 major moves over 8 years over 4 countries and dozens more minor ones, I dare say each subsequent move never gets easier. You have more children, more things, more concerns. Every move is hard.
So when our landlord had said no, I sobbed that night, asking “what now, Lord?” We had spent months searching for another home to no avail.
In desperation, I cried, “I give up, choose for us Lord. Surely Your choice is better than ours.”
That heavy-hearted week, sensing my burden, Cliff dropped me off at a beach to spend time alone in prayer, something I had not done in years.
As the waves ebbed and flowed, “Here I am” were the words mirroring sky and water, between heaven and earth, etched onto my heart. As God said to me “Here I am for you, now and forever,” I sense that He too was requiring of us to mirror His readiness to say, “Here I am Lord, Your will be done.”
As soon as surrender came, came His answer.
Suddenly, a sweetness filled my heart, and no dredge of sadness remained.
Filled with the assurance of peace, the comments of “moving must be so hard” became at once bizarre to me, because the joy of living light, living constantly on the edge of a grand surprise made the petty suffering of putting things into boxes insignificant.
As my mind pondered upon the recent dream of us needing to find a new home, the dream led me to contact a specific person related to the dream, who then heartily agreed to meet as soon as possible. He had heard about our rocky housing situation months ago even before we had known about him, and to our shock, had felt prompted to search for a home for us, months before we even knew of him.
“Of all the homes you’ve stayed in, tell me- which is your favorite?”
It was the big, old house we had helped a stranger housesit for a year of course, when he had reached out to us through following my blog, when we needed a home after returning from Uganda. Having been blessed in such a tangible way (he refused us paying him a cent), I had fond memories of that neighborhood, even though I had never grown up there.
As soon as I said it, his eyes widened like dinner plates.
“I’ve searched for many homes for you. And the only one I’ve shortlisted, is exactly in that neighborhood.”
Lord, choose for us.
For many years, I told Cliff I missed my first home. As a child, I had fond memories living on the highest storey of an old flat, overlooking the sea and the luminous colors of the melting sunset.
As we moved, I learned to enjoy living among monkeys and wild birds in Uganda, near deer in America, and within a small forest in Canada. I will never enjoy that again, not in Singapore, I thought.
But God has a sense of humor.
As we walked into the lift, the man smiled. “We are going to the top floor.”
He opened the windows, and there before us, lay a forest, a lake, a melting sunset.
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” -Luke 18:29-30
“You can live this way for yourself, but what about your children?”
In the same verse, God included our children.
Our older toddler Sarah-Faith was saddened to leave her best friends from the neighborhood. But the timeliness of her birthday made saying goodbye easy- all her besties came to visit to celebrate her life and together, we gave them photo frames of our times together. I promised her we would make new friends in our new home. How frustrated I was when, on the third consecutive evening at the new neighborhood (before we had moved in officially), there was not a child to be found! As I sulked leaving the playground, I heard a voice call “Wai Jia!”
Shocked, I spun around to see an unfamiliar face. “I follow your writing. My sister is your friend. She says you’re moving to the same estate as me. My kids are the same age as yours- come and meet my family!”
God knows. When we trust and obey, will our children not, too, be witnesses of the faith borne from trials?
I will not deny it though. That in the years spent moving, have come griefs and hurts that we cannot put into words. Both Cliff and I had to seek help to process the traumas of multiple moves and the unprocessed pains that took years to reach our hearts from trying to explain everything away. My greatest grief was leaving our home in Canada, the home I had spent so much heart setting up, only to leave behind again. The day we received that miracle house as a gift, a man had come traipsing into our home late at night with three pots of orchids- only God knew how much I loved orchids and how I had wished for them. He wanted me to know, that He cared.
In the same stroke of divine Providence, the morning we moved into our new home (yesterday), our next door neighbor came to us with a housewarming gift. My jaw dropped.
The night before, I had told Cliff that I would like a purple orchid in our new home, just like we did in Canada. I had even set up a special spot on the entryway console for it- and there she held, a pot of purple orchids, just for our family.
If God is calling you to unfamiliar ground, asking you to let go of everything comfortable and familiar that you know, to leave family and friends and rationality to leave Egypt for an uncertain future, would you not trust that He knows best, and our lives are better off in His choices than ours?
To all our friends and loved ones journeying in faith with us, thank you for believing, that He would come through. He always, always does.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country…
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God.”
– Hebrews 11:8-10