Over half a century ago, a 33-year-old father bravely stepped onto a plane in Hong Kong headed for Jamaica, leaving behind his young bride, eight months pregnant and three children, all under the age of five. One month later, I was born into the squalor of that city.
My father left in search of a better life for his family. His hope? To send for us as soon as it was financially and legally possible.
Some six years later, my 39-year-old mom and four children stepped onto a plane to be reunited with my father in Newfoundland, Canada. The journey from the other side of the world would be abruptly interrupted when an air traffic controllers’ strike shut down all flights as we landed in Toronto. In a world before cellphones, somehow my mom contacted a relative in Toronto who became our chaperone on a train headed as far east as we could go. Because Newfoundland is an island, our next mode of transportation would be a five-hour ferry ride, followed by a seven- hour bus ride to our final destination.
Exhausted from motion sickness and the long the journey, our family was finally reunited after a week of traveling. This would be the first time I would meet my dad, at the age of six.
There are moments in our lives that can be described as watershed moments, when the course of our lives distinctly moves in a particular direction. For my family, it happened the moment my dad stepped on the plane in Hong Kong and set his sights for Jamaica. He was determined to find a better life for his family. My dad’s faith in a better life was not easy. It took great sacrifice.
Watershed moments are marked by steps of faith.
Some 30 years later, I boarded a plane in Nova Scotia with a three-year-old son and everything I could stuff inside two large suitcases and headed to South Carolina to start a new job. My husband would join us five months later.
We moved because I had a job offer but God had another plan – His plan of salvation and it became another watershed moment for us.
Sometimes, our plans are forever changed by His divine plan.
When I ponder the great sacrifices my parents made in search of a better life for us, I often think of the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 – 2:26. Suffering from a long season of childlessness, Hannah prays and begs for God’s favor to give her a son. In return, she pledges to give the child to the LORD all the days of his life.
I can’t even imagine how heart-breaking this must have been for Hannah. After all these years of brokenness from her empty womb, she gives birth to a son, only to give him to someone else to raise. Perhaps the Hebrew meaning of Hannah’s name, “gracious” or “favor” gives us some insight about her.
More than anyone, Hannah truly understood that Samuel was a gift from the Hand of a gracious God.
I love the fact that 1 Samuel 2:19 tells us Hannah and her husband went to see Samuel every year during the annual sacrifice. Also, tucked within the verses of 1 Samuel 2:19, the tenderness of God towards a mother’s heart is revealed.
“Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 2:19
The mother’s arms that ached to hold her child would find comfort in making a new robe for him every year.
Hannah’s obedience to God by bringing Samuel to the temple to be raised by Eli was a watershed moment. It became the path for Samuel’s calling.
Many times, I have marveled at the sweet, sweet grace of God, the God who plucked a little girl from the slums of Hong Kong and moved her over 6,500 miles to Eastern Canada. There, she would meet her groom. And once again, God would pick up that same girl and move her family to another country so that we could give our lives to Jesus.
That is the relentless heart of our gracious God!
What are some watershed moments of your life and where has the Hand of God been evident in those moments?