When does stress set in for a missionary family? Oh, the choices by which to answer that question! Certainly the days and weeks before yet another international move would fit the bill. Perhaps it does not sound very "missionary-ish" to admit it but yes, stress does come with the job.
However, along with stress comes the Holy Spirit's whisper that this, too, is part of His refining fire. The question is, how will we deal with it ... whom will we hurt with it ... will we turn to His strength in the midst of it?
Right now the stress staring me in the face is numbers.
0 ... the number of homeschool days left. (Now for grading and closing out this school year in a way that will satisfy Chilean educational authorities so as to allow our children to re-enter their system in March.)
29 ... the number of days before our departure to Chile. Subtract from that (-12) since first we have a final trip to Florida for a family reunion and Christmas on Pedro's side. Subtract another (-5) because honestly, between now and departure for Florida we have multiple Christmas concerts, end-of-year preschool events, a quick trip to PA, the previously mentioned grading, and "etc.!" So really we have closer to 10 or so days to pack our entire lives from this year and empty/clean our house from the past six months and put ourselves on the airplane when the time comes.
7 ... the number of "free" suitcases our family is allowed on the plane.
50+ ... the number of books we purchased this year, thinking we could ship to them Chile in our car, only to find out we could not. These must find a place in those aforementioned 7 suitcases, or else ...
75 ... the number of dollars per extra bag on the airplane.
And the numbers could go on and on and on.
This morning I did not handle the stress well. It is nearly noon and I am still in pajamas, having spent most of the time since waking preparing final exams for our three older children. I have reviewed and proctored and answered questions and graded. I've done one load of laundry (there's another number!) and have half a dozen more staring me in the face. Meanwhile, all morning we've had strangers tearing up our front yard and knocking against our basement walls while the utility company digs for gas lines. I was short with my husband and he left the house for a hair cut, presumably for an escape from his "dripping" wife (Proverbs 19:13.)
I don't feel that I am refining well. I am reminded how much I need HIM!
Lord, Help me to say like David, "When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way." (Psalm 142:3) Help me rehearse my trust in you as the psalmist did. You have gone before us and carried us through much deeper waters in the past. Let me rest in You and praise You for what you WILL do, even when stress sets in. Lead me to the Rock which is higher than I! (Psalm 61:2)