If you know our family at all, you know that Belize is a significant part of our story. Every spring break my girls and I travel for a family mission trip. Belize is our home away from home. Some of our best friends serve as missionaries there and we have all built significant relationships with people in the country. This would have been Brenna’s fifth trip and Kaylie’s sixth. Dan was joining us for the second time.
And then yesterday, the day before our flight, I walked in and found our passports spread on the ground with holes in them. Our dog was apparently not as excited about this trip as we were. I immediately (well, immediately after freaking out a little) got on the phone with every agency I could think of. We did not have time to get to Miami for an emergency passport and they didn’t have any appointments. I spoke to a dozen people and a customs agent assured me we should be fine.
So did the first person who began checking us in this morning. Then her supervisor came along. And then we were denied. By her and every other person I demanded to speak to in the airport. The rest of the team that we were supposed to be leading got on the plane. We did not.
My girls were heartbroken. We were heartbroken. This was not a rainbows and roses day.
We know God is not surprised. We know He has a perfect plan. We also may know we may never know the “why”.
There will be much for us to process in the days ahead. Here are a few of the ideas we are already wrestling with.
- Why would God let something like this happen to us? We all struggle with this, right? Matthew 5:45 says, “he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Some things just happen because that’s part of life. The sun rises for everyone, the rain falls on everyone, and anyone’s dogs could eat their passport. (Or maybe that truly just happens to us)
- Did we do something wrong that would cause God to not let us go? Both the story of Job and the story of Jesus healing the man born blind in John 9 remind us that sometimes things are done for God’s glory and it has nothing to do with us. When things happen, though, we can use the opportunity to evaluate our life to see if there is sin that is between us and God. We do experience consequences for sin, but I tend to think big things like this are more likely linked to God’s bigger purpose.
- God is all-powerful, sovereign and good. Even when we don’t like the turnout. This truth is something the girls and I have repeated through some pretty tough days. It is in these kind of days – the dog-ate-my-passport-days – where our faith in that truth is really tested. Do we believe it when things are good AND when things don’t go our way? Is God still good when He doesn’t do what we want?
- We walk by faith, not by sight. The girls and I read a chapter of the New Testament on the way to school in the mornings. Friday morning we read Hebrews 11 which is often referred to as the faith hall of fame. I asked them how God would fill in the blank, “By faith, Kaylie _________” or “By faith, Brenna ________”. In the moments we thought we were getting on the plane we celebrated in walking by faith and God answering our prayers. And then the situation changed. And still we walk by faith. We walk by faith especially when we don’t understand what’s happening.
- You learn a lot about your kids’ hearts when you watch them process disappointment. I have been amazed listening to them talk this through and listening to them giggle tonight.
God is good. Even when the dog eats the passports.