We now begin our “Jonah Story.”
We had fled Nineveh (PEI and a call to church plant in Nova Scotia). We were now trying to escape the hand of God aboard the ship bound for Tarshish (Ontario).
Upon moving back to Ontario, we had no home to settle into, so we continued in our living-out-of-a-suitcase scenario, this time in my mother-in-law’s basement. Now, if you thought we were discouraged before, living in your parents’ basement in your forties is not exactly morale-boosting.
My Love had a few promising interviews that ultimately led nowhere. Finally, there was a ray of promise–in the same town as our Northern boy, no less. This is our boy who was expecting not one baby, but two! This was an exciting prospect. So we packed our suitcases and headed north. My Love had the job, but had not yet started. We began looking for a home to buy. “This won’t be hard; it’s a buyer’s market,” we happily exclaimed. Yet nothing felt right. I’m sure God protected us from a misguided purchase, as you’ll see.
We stayed with our northern boy and our daughter-in-love, while we continued to search for the right place to live. My Love began his job and it was disastrous from the get-go. It wasn’t just that the job was awful, but they were actually involved in unscrupulous dealings. As the plant manager, my Love was asked to overlook some unethical practices. He was unwilling to put his testimony or his life (as plant manager, he would have faced personal responsibility in any legal action) in jeopardy for such a position, so he quit after just a few days.
In this experience it was like God was saying, “You thought you could run from Me. You thought you could devise your own plans and they would be better than my plans. Like a spoiled child, you wanted to have your own way. How’s that working out for you?”
We were thrown overboard, and were in the belly of the great fish now. Unfortunately, it would last a little longer than three days.
Back to my mother-in-law’s, more dejected than ever. We began praying for the Lord to provide something. In our heart of hearts we knew we were supposed to be in that little town on the east coast, though we were still being stubborn in our despair. Even our df girl said one day, “Daddy, anywhere, but not there.”
We lived in this limbo for a few months; wanting direction but not accepting what the Lord laid out. More and more miserable as time went on. It was during this time that we began going to my mother-in-law’s little church. We weren’t initially thrilled with the idea, but felt it was the polite thing to do, since we lived in her house. Little did we know, God would use the beautiful people in that little church in an instrumental way. The pastor and his wife were once church planters and he had a similar church background. They encouraged us to listen to God’s call to ministry and the congregation were, and still are, huge supporters in prayer and finances to the work here.
During this time, our dear friend (the same one at that youth event so many years before) contacted my Love to speak at a few different events in Northern Ontario. As we made the long trek, my Love lamented having accepted the invitation. He felt his spirit was too bitter, and he should not be preaching in this frame of mind. The Lord, however, blessed him and his words; they were well-received, even impactful. We stayed with our long-time friends and had time to visit. It was then that our godly friend confronted my Love. “Why are you throwing your life away? You are meant to be in ministry. You are meant to be church-planting.” Little did we know that the pastor in Nova Scotia had gone to our friend for his opinion on whether my Love would be a good fit. The machinations of the Lord’s plans were at work here, too. Needless to say, my Love did not appreciate the comments at the time, but they resonated with him in a powerful way over the coming days.
This same weekend, the pastor in Nova Scotia called my Love. “Brother, just praying for you; wondering about the job situation. Just so you know, the offer is still open here.” Wow. Could the message be more clear?
It was like God was audibly saying, “Don’t you know…I have an important job for you?”
Like Jonah, we prayed with contrite, repentant hearts. We began praying more earnestly about having everyone on the same page as far as this call was concerned. My Love did not want to force anyone to make such a life-affecting move on his account. Our older children were very encouraging. In fact, they even counselled us to go. Though they would love having us close by, they could clearly see the Lord’s hand leading in this direction.
On a side note demonstrating my kids’ support, that Christmas my northern boy’s wife made a tin with fifteen different single-serving teas. Each one was a surprise until I opened it up. Another surprise was inside. A note from each of my children was tucked within, as well as encouraging Bible verses and quotes. It was such a beautiful and thoughtful gift. I even carried the notes inside my phone case up until a few days ago (I had to replace the case) so I could re-read each one whenever I felt discouraged or disconnected from them.
Finally, one day, our df girl sat on the sofa beside my Love and said, “Daddy, I think we’re supposed to be in Nova Scotia.” Remember, we had only been praying. We did not bring this up with our children beyond the initial conversation. This was the Lord at work in her heart, opening her eyes to His plan, and solidifying the knowledge that it was time to step out in faith once again.
We were released from the confines of the fish’s belly. The story doesn’t end here; there are a few more twists and turns. But here we were on dry ground, ready to go to Nineveh.