“..for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”–Paul
(Philippians 2:13 NIV)
Yesterday I tearfully kissed my wife good-bye as she boarded an airplane bound for Paris. This trip into her chosen wonderland was not for a vacation excursion with our daughters or her best friend. No, Robyn will be spending four months studying French at the Sorbonne, one of the oldest universities in the world. Yes, you read right “FOUR MONTHS.”
I admit at first glance it does sound a bit like the “mid-life crazies”, but at its heart this journey for both of us has more to do with passion and pursuit of the calling of God than just about anything we have ever done together.
In 2005, Robyn took a vacation trip to Paris with one of our girls. On this trip a love for the French culture, history, art, and people emerged from her heart. She returned with a passion to know more and more and to study French as her “heart language.” At this time I viewed it as an interesting hobby but I really had no idea what God was up to her life. For hours on end she taught herself French using an old grammar given to her by a retired French professor. Her grammar text was written before World War II and started her out with the vocabulary of someone from another era. In many ways, Robyn has always been “old at heart” in her connection to times gone by–to a world open only to those with a passion for history and a creative imagination.
Soon Robyn carried a French copy of the Word of God, and her quest took on deeper roots. One intriguing twist to this journey revealed itself in a conversation with Robyn’s “birth dad.” You see Robyn was adopted at birth so she had no knowledge of her heritage. Jack, her birth dad, shared with Robyn that her biological grandmother came to the United States from France. In addition much of her biological family still lives there in the region near the Germany border. It appears her longing for France and connection to its history and culture runs through her veins.
Back to this crazy adventure, two years ago when we followed God’s call to move to El Paso, God opened the door for Robyn to go back to school to work on her Master’s degree in French and Linguistics. For the past two years she has devoted herself to learning the language and mastering its grammar. Her thesis project revolves around capturing the lessons learned by immersion into a culture and bringing them into the classroom for second-language learners. Before Robyn began her French quest, she taught English as a second language to students from all around the world. Her love for language and students birthed the dream in her heart to help student excel in their desires to learn a new language.
This background brings us to adventure we have embarked on together. I say together, because this was a prayerful decision we both came to after long hours of reflection and talking. As we inched closer and closer to the reality of this decision I came to the realization that I had to “turn loose of her to follow her dreams so I could hold her close in my heart.” When you love someone you long for their lives to be all they were meant to be. My love for Robyn compelled me to let her go.
Paul revealed “that it is God who works in us both to will and to act according to His good pleasure…” I have come to the deep conviction that many of the dreams and passions that grip our hearts and souls ultimately come from above. God plants in our hearts and minds His dreams and the Holy Spirit stirs them into action at just the right time. I believe yesterday, Robyn took a big step into our future. Neither one of us knows for sure where this journey will take us, yet we know it comes at the high cost of being apart for these months, We believe the price is worth it because we see the finger prints of God all over the circumstances that lined our way.
You see God gives us the dreams and He opens the doors. He plants the passions and gives the abilities and opportunities. When your life moves to the rhythms of the Spirit of God you find yourself caught up in a faith adventure far from the boredom of the routine. Much like Abraham setting out for a land he knew not of, Robyn and I continued our journey of faith we started a long time ago when we said, “I Do.” Our quest has taken us to destinations far and wide like a small town on the growing edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, to the country living of East Texas, to the beauty and bitter cold of Milwaukee, to the Cowboy world of the Panhandle of Texas and now to our borderland home in El Paso. We have found evidence of God’s hand in each destination and yesterday Robyn embarked on a journey that will continue our quest.
Last night when I arrived home to an empty house, I found it full of her presence. I will not really be alone. I keep Robyn close in my heart. Going up to bed I spotted her reading glasses on a bookshelf and a smile creased my lips and tear trickled down my cheek. I am so happy for her, but I am going to miss her.
As we took our last morning walk before loading the car and going to the airport we descended the mountain and we looked up and to our amazement we spotted two beautiful rainbows with striking colors on the horizon. Robyn looked at me with a big smile on her face and said “God put those there for us–to remind us He always keeps His promises.” We celebrated together this little reminder we are never alone in our journey.
To bring even more meaning to this special moment, my nickname for Robyn is “Rai”, which is a shorten version of her college pet name “Raibo.” At Baylor I called her “Raibo” because she was “God’s promise to me” just like the rainbow in the sky after a rain. My Lord knew that about me and he knew how hard it was for me to turn loose of her for these moments in time, so in his own special way He reminded us both we are same and secure in His hands no matter what twists and turns following Him may bring.
I am going to miss “Rai” but my heart swells with joy and excitement knowing she chases after the purposes of God in her life with all her heart. How could I ask for anything more?