Over the last week or so I have become aware of an interesting phenomenon regarding my move to Ecuador. I’ve shared this with a few friends, but as I’ve pondered it more, I wanted to share it here.
Most of you know the challenges I’ve faced in my life over the past few years (husband leaving, mother dying and preparing to do this thing God called me to do). From the time the “door opened” for me to come to Ecuador until the time I actually made the move was almost a year. During that time I was in constant preparation. As I shared with many of you during that time, it felt like I was climbing a mountain and most of the time it was a daily, one foot in front of the other effort, not being able to see the top and wondering if I would ever really get there. It included sorting through family photos and heirlooms, years of memorabilia, and all the childhood things my mother had saved; dealing with all my parents collectibles and estate items; pairing my life down to what would fit in suitcases and getting rid of everything else. Items were given away, sold on eBay, in other venues or to friends and family, and in a final estate sale – and of course my house had to be sold as well. In addition, there were many details to finalize including setting up overseas bank accounts and obtaining all the necessary paperwork for my visa. It was a huge undertaking and very arduous task and without the grace of God and the help of many friends and family members I could have never done it!
As you can imagine, the process was a roller coaster of emotions as well. At the very beginning it seemed like a monumental mountain that I had no idea how to climb. At one point I remember feeling I was halfway up – I could look back and see how far I had come, but look ahead and still see how much there was left to do and it still seemed insurmountable.
Also, although I knew in my head I was moving to Ecuador, I still could not truly fathom what lay on the other side of the mountain. It all felt like some ethereal dream that would never really materialize, although I knew in reality that if I kept pressing on I would eventually get there. But I could not really imagine what “there” was going to be like. I hoped and believed it would be good, but it was still all unknown. I had never actually been there so I could only go by what I read to know what to expect. I have to say, it has been everything I hoped for and more – “immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine!”1
I describe all this to you to say what it feels like to be in the middle of something hard and wonder when it will end. I remember when my mom was sick and the daily struggle with no end in sight. It felt like a long, difficult ordeal in the middle of it – but on the other side it had only lasted six short months. And so here I am on the other side of all of that and what felt like such a long, laborious journey now seems like it happened years ago or even like it was a distant dream. It is hard to believe that I was still in the midst of the process only a few short months ago, because it feels like a lifetime away!
I correlate all this with the fact that I am a firm believer that we are rapidly approaching the “end of the age” and that the church will suffer increasing persecution and hard times until Jesus returns. Much of the church all over the world is already suffering horrendous persecution. Jesus told us, “All nations will hate you because of me.”2 The book of Revelation says that the difficulties we are approaching will require “patient endurance on the part of the saints.”3 All throughout the New Testament we are given examples and encouraged to press on during “fiery trials” and hardships.4 We are told that these “light and momentary troubles” cannot compare with the greater glory that we will experience when it is all over.5 So I think that what I have come to realize – this “interesting phenomenon” – is that as difficult and never ending something feels when we are in the middle of it, once we are truly on the other side, it is amazing how fast it fades away. Also, we have hope in something that we have only read about but never experienced – but we have to believe and trust that the other side of this life will be far beyond anything we could hope for or imagine. This is so important for us to remember in the days ahead so that we can “stand firm until the end” as Jesus exhorts us to do.6 When we get to the other side, everything we went through, no matter how hard it was, will quickly fade away and it will all be worth it!
1 Ephesians 3:20
2 Matthew 24:9
3 Revelation 13:10 & 14:12
4 1 Peter 4:12
5 2 Corinthians 4:17
6 Matthew 10:22 & 24:13; Mark 13:13