Thursday, October 04, 2007

Desert Wanderings

I thought we were headed for Canaan. We had sold our overpriced, yard-deprived bungalow in the dry, smog-filled, traffic-infested land of Southern California for a solid profit and after the purchase our new much larger home in a green, upscale Midwestern neighborhood, still had money to sock away for a rainy day. We had experienced a peace about our new adventure and not solely based on what seemed like the promise of financial security. Every door had opened wide for us and we were eager to see what God had planned for our family of five in our new community.

I have to say that the first few months were incredible. Larry was home because we were waiting for a contract he had to start. We found a perfect local coffee house to hang out in and felt a strong calling to our church. We dove into our new life with relish. Within a few months we had some significant friendships, had gone to China on a mission trip, were starting an orphan ministry and were enjoying making our new house a home. We came home from China and began the adoption process for our sweet Madeleine who was waiting in an orphanage back in Asia, a addition to our family we hadn’t even considered while in San Diego.

Then the roof caved in. Every consulting contract that appeared on the horizon seemed to dissolve before our eyes as obstacle after obstacle kept us from moving forward. We started living on our profit from our San Diego house and, with adoption costs added to every day living expenses, we started watching our nest egg evaporate. Each consulting contract soon became the proverbial carrot…always just a little out of reach. The lean months turned into a year. A year turned into two. Our money was gone and our credit was maxed. We were down to one car and struggling to pay the bills each month.

Why had God brought us here just to let us flounder? Had we been mistaken in what we thought had been his direction? We believed we had been obedient. We believed that He had plans for us beyond what we could imagine. We certainly hadn’t imagined this.
And yet we got to see God where we had never seen him before. We met him on our patio in the melting snow where bags of groceries had been left anonymously. We found him in our mailbox where two gift cards of $200 each showed up in a blank envelope at Christmas time. We glimpsed him in the eyes of our new chosen child. Everywhere we turned, expecting to find no one, we found Him.

So, here we are. Three years after arriving in what we believed was the Promised Land, we are leaving. God has provided a job for Larry in San Diego. This is where my family is. This is where I am from. What we thought was our Canaan has been revealed to us as our desert wanderings. A place where God has been refining us, teaching us to depend on His provision and increasing our faith. He has taken two first-born over-achievers and taught us how to accept help. He has deepened our understanding of the gospel and how it should affect the way we live. And frankly, we’re not sure that our big, beautiful house in suburbia is it.

While to many people it may look as if we are running home with empty hands, we have seen the sovereignty of God at work in our lives, as individuals and as a family and it has changed us. And we wouldn’t change that for anything.


Melissa and Wayne said...

Well, I know the midwest will never be the same without the Baldwin family! Thank God for email and family blogs. :-) Make sure you keep in touch.

Love ya guys!
Melissa #2

jen said...

Beautiful and encouraging post. Thank you for expressing this. We are currently in the midst of that scary between-contract period after two years of a financial boom. We, too, are following carrots dangled in front of us, and for some reason, even though my husband is talented and a hard worker, new contracts are not panning out. We are getting nervous, but we are trying to remember that God is watching and we need only to have faith.

Khara said...

Totally not the point, but is that Bush countdown ticker part of your page or an advertisement? If it is the former, I think I love you! If not, you never saw me here.

Khara said...

On a more serious note:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work to that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

-James 1:2-4

strantzformer said...

wow Melissa, thanks for sharing your heart because you have pretty much blessed me and encouraged me with your blog.

Jesse K said...

Wow, that was encouraging!

Anonymous said...

Hiya, Melissa -
Had to check in after your SD fire email. Didn't know y'all were heading back to SoCal. Glad you can see God's hand in the midst of the challenge. Look me up if you're in Pasadena!

Amy from CCCHS