Each morning started with the same thought: “Maybe today is the day.” Hope rose with the dawn and would diminish with the close of business hours. Fridays being the worst because we knew we would have to survive another weekend without knowing; to face our church family yet again with no news. This went on for months.
Our family played a waiting game with the UK government for the better part of 2023. As Americans living in England, a visa sponsor is a necessary component to our life, and ours had lost their license, so we needed a solution. We do not need all the complicated details in this space, but there were a few ways of our problem could be solved and for months not a one resolution occurred. A deadline overshadowed our existence, knowing they would force us to leave our home if our circumstances didn’t shift.
A quick look over my story shows that this season of limbo was not the first.
There was a stretch of pregnancies that each ended in miscarriage. I waited, wondering if my one son would ever have a sibling. I dreamed of a full house all the while, wondering why this was happening to me.
The adoption of our youngest came packaged in a timeline that stretched way beyond where we ever imagined it would, stretching our resolve beyond where we thought it could go. There were many days I would drop my kids off at school and drive to the Walmart parking lot to sit and cry about my baby being on the other side of the world.
Our perfectly good house would not sell when we felt God move us to England. I fought anger each time I had to get it ready for a showing because I wanted our time of moving to be less stressful than it turned out to be.
These “why won’t this happen?” difficulties were ones my faith would claim God could solve. So why didn’t He?
This summer, it was usually at around 2 a.m. I found myself awake. All the scenarios of what might happen and how those things would affect my children swirled around my mind. I would curl myself into a ball and pray. “Lord, please help us,” – it was the extent of what my groggy, discouraged mind could muster. Sometimes sleep would envelop me again and sometimes the alarm would sound before it could.
At the beginning of the ordeal, my husband had planned a summer sermon series entitled, “Through the Wilderness,” thinking by the time he spoke on this wilderness, we would be safe on the other side. It didn’t go that way. I would cry most of the way through the songs sung about God’s faithfulness and then listen to him speak about what we were living. Knowing our reality, the impact of his message magnified for the hearers in a way nothing else could have done.
The weeks wore on, our yearly visit to family in the States cancelled. Each day presented itself as an opportunity to exercise the muscle of hope. Some days, that workout went better than others.
My waking in the early hours turned sweet. God’s presence was in that place. I felt Him promise us rescue, even though it still did not come. Perhaps it was not to be on my terms or in the way I expected?
After three miscarriages and a wrestle in my heart to surrender my family plan to God’s plan for us, I gave birth to two beautifully alive babies.
One week before Christmas 2016, I walked a walk I had dreamed of for years. With my African daughter in my arms, welcome signs, family, and friends met me at the International Arrival Hall of the Philadelphia Airport. God had literally performed miracles to get us to that walkway.
My brother was driving, our cars were sold. We were airport bound with a one-way ticket to Heathrow. All our belongs warehoused, save 13 suitcases that were coming with us. The house that wouldn’t sell was empty. It was on that drive our realtor called with an offer. We took it and ran all the way to England.
The first week of school this September, a Polish friend grabbed my arm at drop-off. I hadn’t seen her since she prayed for me at the end-of-school picnic 6 weeks earlier.
“You are still here! Is everything all right?” she asked.
“Not yet. We must leave Tuesday if nothing happens.”
“I do not know how you are smiling! . . .I will keep praying.” she said.
I smiled because I believed rescue was coming. I drank in the Psalms this summer, finding all thirst quenched each time I went to that blessed book.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.” Psalm 121:8
I believe none of what we were going through escaped God’s notice and that He would orchestrate whatever was best, even if it felt like a disruption to our life.
That Sunday at 4 p.m. when no government office should be at work, we received the email we had imagined receiving for months. We worked like mad on a new visa application over a celebratory dinner of Indian takeaway. We submitted it with 26 hours to spare. The name of our solicitor’s practice is “In Time Immigration” and he admitted this was the closest he has ever had it come to a deadline.
It is the week of Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for each and every wait in my life. (Incidentally, we are waiting for another move from the immigration office right now. It isn’t as dire as it was this September, but our desired trip to the States for Christmas hangs in the balance.) When circumstances are out of my hands and all I can do is approach my Heavenly Father in prayer, the privilege is all mine to see God come near. In His last-minute rescues, which He seems to have chosen as a reoccurring cadence for my story, I see His abundant love because those events could only bear His fingerprints. I know Him better because of the waits. In these times He restores my soul with His presence, and I amazingly am left feeling loads of gratitude looking back on 2023.