Dear Family and Friends,
In Isaiah 45:15, we read these compelling words from the prophet, “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel.” (NIV)
It’s not often that I, Sarah, get the chance to write our monthly teaching letter to our generous supporters. Mostly, our readers get the chance to hear my husband’s stories, told straight from the mission field as he ministers to skeptics. This month however, we’re mixing things up a bit and I’m “coming out of hiding” to share my story with the world. I’m writing about how God is revealing himself to me through my ministry to the children of North Minneapolis, and to our little family, right here in Minnesota.
Often, throughout my life and ministry, I’ve learned all kinds of things about God as I listen to children. I regularly hear astounding things from their lips. I’ve therefore learned to ask questions and to wait for them to reply. Not long ago, I asked my class, “Why do we pray to God?” One of my students answered me by saying, “We have to pray for God to come out.” Wow! I’ve never thought of that before!
It seems that according to my class, discovering more about God can be like a game of hide and seek. Through our wrestling, we gradually learn to see things from His perspective, to look for Him in the everyday moments of our lives. Rather than constantly acting unilaterally, we learn to quietly pray and seek God, to which God is drawn by our prayers to act in the midst of our circumstances. Normally, that is how we experience Him working in our lives.
Personally, I think God takes delight in hiding from us. As the prophet writes, He wants to be searched for and found by us. (Isa 45:15) Some moments are harder than others. But if we don’t give up on our quest, we will find God in both our joys and our sorrows. In the process, we come to discover that even the insights of children can help us to see God’s word in a new and refreshing light. How encouraging!
Not long ago, I was pondering how God weaves His truth through the tapestry of our lives. As a child, I always enjoyed going to our nearby neighborhood Christian Bookstore. As a little girl, I always seemed to find different things to take home with me. On one such outing I found a pen that had an acronym written on it. It simply read: “FROG.” The lettering stood for: “Fully Rely On God.” I thought it was a fun reminder, so I took it home with me. The pen wound up staying with me for quite a number of years after.
Of course, looking back, I don’t remember exactly what stirred me to purchase the pen. I probably bought it because at the time, I had a thing for frogs. It’s something most people don’t know about me. But the truth is, as a child, I would spend countless hours in my backyard, in the woods, or in other outdoor settings, finding and catching what I called “critters.” Some of my regular finds and childhood discoveries included leeches (yech!), grasshoppers, butterflies, crayfish, fireflies, and of course—frogs! There was just something very gratifying to me about catching one of these little creations. (Perhaps you can relate!)
Of course, a lot has changed for me in my life since then. (Probably, one of the biggest changes was getting married to Ben!) But one thing seems not to have changed: I still seem to privately enjoy a good “hunt” for a creature. This past summer opened a fresh opportunity for me to re-experience the thrill of my childhood with my own kids. I began to discover that our two little children have both become aware of this amazing opportunity to experience God’s creation through capturing little critters and creatures—just as I once did. A switch of sorts has been turned on in both of them, as our two children (Aaron 5, and Adeline 3) have learned the thrill of this fun childhood activity.
This newfound joy has only seemed to increase over this past summer. While in our backyard, or at my parents’ cabin, Aaron has slowly learned how to spot tiny creatures in hiding and catch them. He has become skilled at catching grasshoppers. It has been a delight to watch him crouch down and cup his hands together to create his little net. Then he springs it upon some unsuspecting insect. Addy too, has become a pro at catching moths. The idea of catching creatures gradually became one of the highlights of our summer.
However, by a long shot, the creature Aaron and Addy wanted to nab the most this year were frogs! Aaron especially began to ask for me to help him find them. And of course, the moment you start “looking” for frogs in your own backyard, they all but vanish down a black hole! (How frustrating!) So, instead we decided to start looking for frogs whenever we ventured out on our family run together.
During those hours, the kids would search. And on our very first outing, wouldn’t you know it—we actually found two! Both Aaron and Adeline were thus elated at the capture. So, at this point, the expectations of our kids were soaring high. However, after several more unsuccessful runs, both kids began to become very saddened by our predictable results. So, I decided to add a spiritual element to our game. I reminded Aaron and Addy that God could help us to find frogs if we simply prayed for it.
On our next family run, Aaron offered up his first prayer. Lo and behold, that very day—he spotted a frog leaping out in front of us on the trail! I caught it for him and we brought it back home with us. The whole event was a wonderful reminder to our kids that God sometimes answers our prayers. Little did I know that God was actually using our summer family play as a set up to teach us to “Fully Rely On God.” (FROG)
In the fall, both of our kids started school together. As a result, our family schedules and routines were drastically altered. Of course, adjusting to change is never easy. As everything solidified, my husband and I conversed often, checking and even triple-checking our schedule in order to ensure that someone was always available to pick up the kids from school on time. Because a good deal of my work hours fall during the late weekday afternoons, Ben was the one who was scheduled to pick up the kiddos on day one. But wouldn’t you know it—our family had an oops day!
It began with me getting a phone call from Addy’s teacher calling 20 minutes after the expected time, needing to be picked up. I immediately panicked. Was Ben okay? Did I need to leave work early and drive 30 minutes through high traffic to make sure Addy was picked up after school? I quickly called Ben and found out that he had simply lost track of the time. “Whew,” I thought. “I’m glad that’s dealt with!” Ben jumped in the car and picked up our bewildered daughter.
However, as the minutes continued to tick by, we got a repeat. My phone buzzed again as I was leaving work for the evening. It was Aaron’s after school teacher saying that someone needed to pick up our son. I immediately called Ben. He picked up right away and confessed that he was once again late to pick up Aaron from his aftercare!
The emotion that I felt in that moment was fury! I had always secretly feared that Aaron and Addy would somehow feel hurt by being left behind and not picked up on time. To make matters worse, Ben himself felt horrible about being late two times in the same day. Both of us were unsure as to how to react to each other over the phone. But meanwhile, God had something quite humorous in store for us.
On the way home from aftercare, Aaron piped up loudly from the back seat “Look, dad, there’s a frog in our van!” At that moment, a tiny tree frog hopped from the backseat out of nowhere to the steering wheel, at which Ben erupted into uncontrollable laughter. By the time Ben got home, he was in stitches. He put the frog on his finger, took a picture of it, and sent it to me. Then he called me and said, “Sarah, you’re never going to believe this...”
As I listened to the story, I was internally struggling with my anger. I was looking for some reason to stay mad. But the whole story was so funny, I couldn’t muster it. I realized in that moment that God had broken in. Here I was trying to stay angry, but God was trying to teach me a lesson. He was trying to help our family to learn the importance of “fully relying on God” (FROG). In my heart, I had wanted to believe that somehow, we wouldn’t be tested by our deepest fears (like not picking up our children on time). But God had something powerful in store for us. He wanted to test us at the level of our worst fears so that we would learn to see his hand of protection over our lives.
This is how God often reveals himself to us. He shows up in ways that challenge our comfort zones. He drops into our lives, oftentimes without our even noticing it, and speaks to us by using our fears as his amplifier. Sometimes, when I hear stories about my husband’s conversations with atheists and skeptics, I wonder, “How on earth could anyone miss the existence of God?” But the fact of the matter is that our hearts are so often dulled to hearing God’s voice. Thus, the prophet Isaiah marveled, “Truly you are a God who hides himself...”
As a Christian, I am convinced that God greatly desires to speak to us in our circumstances. But often we need external pressure to cry out to God for help. As we seek the Lord in desperate prayer, it’s almost as though “God comes out of hiding.” He makes His presence known, directly in the midst of our trials and circumstances. It is only then that we understand the true joy hidden in Isaiah’s simple statement, “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel!” (Isa 45:15)
Personally, I’ve needed situations like this one to remind me that God is in charge of my life, my kids, and my family. Having a husband who is a missionary isn’t easy for me. Planting a ministry like this one is really hard work! Not only so, but working with children in North Minneapolis has been challenging to me. Yet in the midst of it all, God has a rip-roaring sense of humor! And he has an almost infinite number of ways to teach us to “Fully Rely On God” (FROG).
My son and I were also reminded this summer by the reality that God really does answer our prayers. To bring surprises to us in our lives, even in middle of our family fights, is an opportunity for him to show us his faithfulness. And for our little family, he brought an unexpected moment filled with fun into our life. Amidst my husband’s blunder, God made us laugh until our sides hurt! It was as though the frog showed up at just at the right time.
May you be blessed to see how God floods your life with his joy and peace. Through moments of your life, may he help you to lighten up and further trust him. May he teach you to pray and believe that he will “come out” and amaze you, right in the middle of your trials. And through it all, may you learn to more Fully Rely On God. (FROG)
In closing, may God richly bless you for praying for and financially supporting our family. And may the hope of this coming Christmas season demonstrate again that God will show up in your lives in the fullest and most unexpected ways.
In The Harvest,
Sarah Fischer <><
Postscript: Sarah Fischer is a teacher, a faithful wife, a mother of two children, and a discipler of women. Sarah eagerly seeks to see the spark of faith ignited in women and children who will live lives of deep faith and deep passion for Jesus. This article, along with a growing library of evangelistic and discipleship resources can be found on the web at benfischerministies.com. We thank you again for supporting us in this work. To God be the glory!