"All Aboard!"

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Noah Johnson, 2015

Noah Johnson, 2015

Well, it’s official. My 40th year walking this earth has begun. Honestly, I’m a bit indifferent to the number. I don’t know exactly what “hill” I’m over, but I’m feeling ok here on the other side. Interestingly enough, a good friend helped me to realize that the number 40 does have significance to the One who created me. It is used well over 100 times in the bible and is said to “represent a period of testing or judgment (the length of time necessary to accomplish some major part of God’s plan)” (http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/40.html). After my 40 years of preparation, of being “refined” in His grace, I am supposedly now a new creation. I’m not sure how much that holds true for me, but turning 40 certainly does bring reason to pause and reflect on my journey.

In thinking of lessons learned along the way, I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorites gleaned from Corrie Ten Boom’s true life story which she presents so beautifully in her written work, The Hiding Place. In this particular piece of her story, she is traveling on a train with her father and she asks him a question about something he is not yet ready to explain to her. His response is a gem of wisdom I fall back on often. It reads as follows;  

“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.

‘Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?’ he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

‘It’s too heavy,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.'”

― Corrie ten Boom, John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Hiding Place, Bantam, 1984     

I’m truly fascinated by this simple truth. We do this all the time as parents. We feed our children knowledge of their world in small pieces that they are able to chew and digest. We work to protect them from being overburdened with information that might cause them confusion, fear or worry. Why would it be any different when it comes to God revealing His will to us? To understand that God does the same for each one of His children is mindboggling. It all makes sense, however. In looking back and thinking of the road I’ve traveled, l realize that my life, like everyone’s, is an intricate puzzle. I am in charge of putting the pieces where they go and God patiently and painstakingly puts me where I need to be. He places the people in my life that I am meant to learn from, be encouraged and inspired by and gently coaxes me to pick up the pieces when it is just the right time to fit them into the puzzle.

The timing of things is something I’ve often struggled with. When I think of the major events in my life, graduating from college, getting married, having children, I realize how anxious I always was for things to fall into place and “happen.” Contentment is not something I hold on to for very long. I’ve always been one to want to rush on with the next milestone in life. If it were up to me and my plan, it made perfect sense to get engaged before my husband and I were even finished with school. I know this is something that drives my logical-well-sensed-painfully-planned-out husband crazy and I’m sure it’s safe to say it drives God a little nutty as well. His plan is perfect and I’m always trying to mess with it.  

“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?’

I sniffed a few times, considering this.

‘Why, just before we get on the train.’

‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie.'”

―Corrie ten Boom, John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Hiding Place,  Bantam, 1984

It took me nineteen years to be comfortable enough with who I was in order to merge my life with that of another and five more years before I was ready to be a wife. It took me twenty-five years before I knew how strong my faith really was, learned only through the loss of our first baby to miscarriage. At twenty-six years, I learned what self-sacrifice truly feels like, presented beautifully in the form of motherhood.  It was twenty-seven years before I was strong enough to battle through what was debilitating anxiety and not much longer to realize God let me carry that cross to connect with many other women suffering in much the same way. It took me thirty-five years to be ready to trust God to work His miracle through adoption. In His perfect timing, through the process of what often felt like an education I didn’t need, I was ready to place each puzzle piece where it was meant to be. More times than I can count, through my struggle with control, I tried as hard as I could to fit pieces where they simply didn’t belong. I was “running out ahead” and trying desperately to turn in my ticket before it was time for the train to depart.

My family would laugh at me if they heard me proclaim I was even close to mature. It’s true I am often “inappropriate” (my husband’s word…) and find way too much humor in the rampant potty mouths living among me. However, after 40 short years, I do feel I have matured in my understanding of faith and my friendship with God. While it’s true I often wonder what the future will hold for myself and my family, for now at least, I am content with where I’m at and I’m confident and secure with placing the rest in God’s hands. For the first time in my life, I can wait patiently for the next train to pull into the station, knowing when it does it will be loaded with all I need to travel through the next phase of my life.  

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”

― Corrie ten Boom, John and  Elizabeth Sherrill, The Hiding Place, Bantam, 1984

And so, at 40 years of age, I venture forward. I am blessed to have countless treasured memories and couldn’t be more thankful for the family and friends that travel beside me. I sit, contentedly, ticket in hand, waiting patiently for the next train to pull in.

Copyright 2015 Nicole Johnson
Art copyright 2015 Noah Johnson. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Nicole and her husband of fifteen years have been blessed with three children, with whom she is happy to spend her days with as a stay-at-home mom. Nicole and her family are strong advocates for life, adoption and embracing children with special needs. Read more of Nicole’s story and her understanding of faith by visiting her blog, Joy in the Journey, at www.nicolejenniferjohnson.com.

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