To all of those who faithfully remembered us in prayer: thank you.
To all of those who sacrificially gave to us: thank you.
To all of those who loved us enough to regularly engage us in soul strengthening dialogue (late into the night): thank you.
To all of these we pray: may God overwhelm you with His blessed presence and Love. We certainly felt God’s Love through you!
But what follows is not happy or pleasant, but quite difficult to disclose. I pray that God would be glorified in the disclosure.
The linville(s) are not going to 中国/中华 China.
I take responsibility for this.
I learned about the trip through our church in August and I decided then and there that we would go. I prayed about it afterwards, but not initially and not with my wife. In that alone, I greatly dishonored God and failed my wife, but there is more.
Not only did I “prayerfully” pursue this in my own strength, but I continually forgot to include my wife.
In the Bible, 1 Peter 3:7 says, “husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way” (ESV). The NIV, which translates more idiomatically, says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives.”
In this I greatly failed. I know my bride. I know how she thinks and how much she appreciates having a few days to consider things before acting on them. How, if she’s forced into making a decision, it will constantly nag at her because she hasn’t spent the time she needs to think about it and pray through it for herself.
As August passed by with its many blessings and trials, we entered September which was when we were to meet with pastor Travis who leads our church in missions. I had forgotten about this meeting and was reminded by Heather, Travis’s secretary, the day before. That’s when I told my bride about the trip for the first time.
We prayed about it then. We prayed about it before the meeting. That was it. God, in His infinite power and mercy, gave my wife peace about going. Excitement even. He had given me a second chance to be proactive. Again, I blew it.
“But how!?” you might be thinking, “now she knows!”
This time I blew it by failing to lead my family. After that first meeting, we got home spiritually charged and ready, but emotional highs are fleeting and easily thwarted. Life distracted me. I distracted me. If anyone has ever tried to raise support before, you know how proactive you must be, and I was not being proactive.
In the end, Mrs. linville had to do it, and she did it out of desperation. She did it because the due date for our first $500 was in a week and I still hadn’t sent anything out. You ask, “what were you thinking? That the money would just appear?” I wish I could say even that! Even that would be better than what I must confess!
The problem was that I wasn’t thinking about China at all! The need to raise support had completely fallen off my radar! I have no excuse for this. I was completely irresponsible to prayerfully lead my wife and raise support.
Nevertheless, I was stubborn. After sending out the support email, we still had to turn in the $500 support to the church. Instead of backing out immediately, I thought (I stated thinking again!) God might still work a miracle. Therefore, I wrote a check for $400 (everything in our account) and turned it in, thinking that God just needed to see our faith in Him and He’d provide.
Again, 1 Peter 3:7; I failed to be considerate of my wife. Now, I did this with her consent, she knew that God could provide, but I did not do this with her. Instead of walking down the road of life hand in hand, I had thrown my bride over my shoulder and was running around blindfolded. She did not appreciate that.
If that weren’t enough, all this came out the weekend of our interviews with the International Mission Board, to be considered for full time vocational missionary service! We were running late, trying to get ready, and it felt like there was a wall between us.
It got to a place where I had to call a time-out. Something was wrong and everything needed to stop until it was made right. Seeing this opportunity, my wife poured out her heart to me. Through tears she shared how my actions (and lack thereof) had greatly hurt her. She felt trapped and she felt no peace about going China.
Broken at really seeing my wife’s pain, I realized how stupid I had been. I could finally think clearly. We didn’t need to go to China; not on this trip. Holding my bride, we talked and agreed together that we should back out. Immediately, a huge weight was lifted off my chest. I could tell that my wife felt the same way.
The atmosphere of the entire evening changed from a cold lonely stiffness to a warm inviting embrace. There’s no situation that God can’t use or overcome to get glory for His name. I write about my failure to magnify God’s success. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, ESV). He is always the hero and I rejoice that He saves my family from my failure.
Now, when I recall my epic failure, I see God’s love and I can be in Love with it. So, here’s to God’s great mercy in not only forgiving us for our failures, but also using our failures to move us into a deeper relationship with Him!