During this morning's worship set, we sang 'Never Once' by Matt Redman.
Like those around me, I began to trace back moments of God's provision as we lifted the chorus - flashbacks of His faithfulness in days gone by, and for me, particularly within these past 5 years.
Back to the exact place and time when I took the email address scribbled on a torn corner of a bulletin from Mike Brownlee's hand, back when Laurens, Cheryl and their three children were still strangers.
Back to my jet-lagged posture on the sunbaked school bus, barely sitting upright in it's wind tunnel as we barrelled down Haiti's main highway, trying to absorb the newness around me.
Back to the first morning I awakened at Mission of Hope, my skin crawling with mosquito bites, my mind spinning with questions without answers all surrounding why I had come.
Those firsts in the journey were only the beginning of countless moments of loneliness and longing for familiarity. Moments of confusion and frustration in the midst of a foreign language and culture. Moments when I paused facing the chalkboard so the kids wouldn't see my tears of inadequacy. Moments of fear and desperation for security in the trembling aftershocks. Moments of heartbreak in the goodbyes and loss of friends.
These are some of my lowest points to date, and they will forever hold a piece of me. But more than that, I will cling to the lessons I learned through them. The points where I had to choose between trusting in myself, or trusting in the One who called me there. And though sometimes it took me a long while, in those surrenders, in those painful moments of release, I found an unshakable truth. That no matter how deep the pain, or how hopeless the circumstance, He stills me. He knows me. He holds me. With His truth, His peace, His love, He makes all things work together for good.
And so friends, that is where I go from here.
Over the past few weeks of being home, I've received countless warm welcomes and tight embraces, along with soft inquiries about what my next step will be... The answer is still foggy.
But even though there are still many uncertain things on the path ahead, there are a few things I am certain of. The first is that there will be more deep waters to tread through. I am confident that the refining that happened in Haiti is not over yet, nor will it ever be on this side of heaven. But I am also certain of this: that the same One who carried me through those storms and searchings, is just as present with me now as He was on that island. Just as He promises, each one of us can trust in Him as our faithful guide and our refuge.
And for that reason, we can sing, never once will we ever walk alone.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.
Because He has not, does not, will not leave us - never once.