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“You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. . . . Make it a habit to say: “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” James 4:14-15 (MSG)

“You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. . . . Make it a habit to say: “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” James 4:14-15 (MSG)

Arabic-speakers say: “In Sha’Allah” (God willing). In this passage, James is saying “If the Master wills it . . . . “ “In Sha’Allah.” This Lenten season, we Searles are in a moment of turning, an “In Sha’Allah” moment.

We are in the United States, our home away from our home in Poland, awaiting news that will shape where we go next: perhaps to international work, singing a new song; perhaps to work in the United States, in more familiar rhymes and rhythms.

Our children ask: “Will we get together this summer?” We answer: “In Sha’Allah” (“God willing”). Our families ask: “Will you visit this year?” We answer: “In Sha’Allah” (“God willing”). Our friends and colleagues in Poland ask: “When will you come back and say goodbye and sell your car and sort your stuff?” We answer: Soon, “In Sha’Allah” (“God willing”).
We can only say with James: “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

Our belongings are in Poland. We will return to pack up (sometime), say our goodbyes well, lock the door behind us, turn in our keys, and board a plane (for somewhere) – like wisps of fog.

Since last May, we have been itinerants and occasional laborers – people on the move. We’ve visited scores of congregations and slept in a new bed almost every night. We’ve shared worship in diverse styles with diverse people in a variety of places and spaces, getting a brief taste of what your lives are like and sharing ours.

Itineration – traveling from place to place and speaking in congregations – is a heady, joyous sharing time. People say that itineration “puts a face on mission.” For mission co-workers, itineration “puts a face on senders.” As we crisscross America, we meet those who make sending possible. We are gifted with the opportunity to share news of what God is doing in the world with those whose giving hearts and hands make that work possible.

And now, as we discern our next call, we are in residence in Louisville, in furnished “furlough housing” at the seminary. Living in America is like slipping into a pair of old slippers long boxed up way back in the closet.

Furlough housing feels infused with the prayers and hopes and commitment of scores of missionaries before us. Comfortable as Louisville life may be, we (like them) are listening for a call to the threshold between cultures, where we daily learn to walk with partners in ministry – to walk in new shoes.

“You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.” Amen to that, James!
“You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.” So we are, wispily rising and shining in Louisville for a brief bit of sun and trying to make it our habit to say: “In Sha’Allah” – “If the master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
In Sha’Allah, we soon will discern a new path.
In Sha’Allah, you – our senders and enablers – will continue to make opening new paths possible.

Keep praying with us won’t you?  Keep praying for vision to see the path where new walking shoes await us. And keep praying that those new shoes will fit us well and break in quickly.

Liz and Doug Searles, wisps of fog in Louisville, KY

Submitted by Elizabeth and Douglas Searles, Global Ministries’ missionaries to Poland, jointly appointed by Global Ministries and PCUSA to walk with the Evangelical-Reformed Church in Poland.

Doug and Elizabeth Searles serve with the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland.  They serve as mission workers for church growth and outreach.