Called

Yesterday’s lectionary reading was 1 Samuel 3.

“The word of the Lord was rare in those days…”

Such an old familiar story. I’m always struck by how quickly and readily Samuel jumps up when he thinks Eli is calling him. I frequently have to call my children two or three times! (Granted, two of them do wear hearing aids…)

My “call” was not an audible voice. I did not hear someone calling my name or dream prophetic dreams. But from the first week that I spent in Davao in 2009, I had a deep desire to return and be a less transient participant in the ministry of the birth center there. I felt that a flame had been lit inside me: a small but persistent and unquenchable longing.

When I came back to Ohio in 2009 I jumped right back into my busy life and the spark was buried, hidden, and often forgotten for days or weeks at a time. I looked at my full life, my husband’s career, our large family, and my increasingly busy midwifery practice and did not see how this abiding desire to care for mothers and babies in a missionary clinic on the other side of the world could possibly be reconciled to the place that God had put me. So I gave myself wholeheartedly to life where I was and occasionally felt irrationally strong pangs of homesickness when something reminded me of Davao.

My second trip, in 2010, came together on the spur of the moment with less than a week’s warning. God’s hand was apparent in the myriad details that all fell into place in less than 24 hours. While my ostensible reason for the trip was an eleventh-hour effort to complete certification requirements I was determined that what I was doing as a midwife must never be about the numbers, but about the people. I would go with an open heart and a desire to be a blessing and try my best to forget that I needed to document a certain number of births within a fairly tight deadline in order to sit my exam that year and become a Certified Professional Midwife.

Halfway through my time there, I had experienced several days in a row of very quiet shifts with not even one birth. Then a client back home, midway through her pregnancy, experienced a tragic loss. I struggled to understand why God would have brought me halfway around the world at just the right time to prevent me from being there to support and comfort this grieving young mother. I wept and prayed. I told God that I knew that I was in Davao at that moment because He wanted me to be there. I was where I was supposed to be. But I was missing my children’s last week of the school year, my wedding anniversary, and someone else was taking care of my client (not to mention my preschoolers) …and I wasn’t even getting any births! “If it’s not about getting the births I need, why bring me here now, Lord? Is this whole trip just supposed to remind me not to get too settled and comfortable in Ohio? Was I getting too complacent? Because I’m not the one you need to convince! I’ll do this next year and for the rest of my life if you open the door… but I’m not just one person on my own. You gave me a family, Lord, and if this is where I’m supposed to be serving you, you need to make that clear to my husband!”

…to be continued…

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