Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Most of you know that for some time now, Robin and I have sensed a call to move to Edinburgh, Scotland. You may also know that the move toward this call has been a bit more halting than we at first imagined (we deferred a year). But the summer preceding our departure to a new land and into a new way and even era of life has begun. And with this beginning comes the interview.

Fewer of you, perhaps, know about this, but many of those of who do have been praying for us for quite some time about this little trip. If you have been praying, you know that what should have been a “little trip” for a series of ministry interviews has turned into somewhat of “little nightmare,” and that for two related reasons; the first is a volcano and the second is a fear of flying that this eruption has exposed in my sweet wife’s psyche.

Robin hates flying. That’s the bottom line. But combine that antipathy with the fact that she is one month away from delivering our first child and top it off with a volcano spewing ash into the trajectory of my flight and of a sudden, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Weeks ago, before the Icelandic volcano starting belching fire and smoke miles into the stratosphere, I had already booked my flight. Even this early in the game, no complications anywhere in sight, Robin was still not happy about my flight and our resultant one-week separation. “What if I go into labor early and you’re in some pub in Edinburgh?” The questions and conversations seemed endless. But we prayed and talked and ironed things out. The doctor didn’t see a problem with my going (much to Robin’s chagrin at the time).

So it was settled. Or so I thought. Then Hephestus decided to break out his hammer and tongs and pound around the underworld a bit. Enter Icelandic volcano and days of Heathrow gridlock. Of course, Continental has me routed through Heathrow. Cheers, Hephestus. Thanks a lot, pal.

So, Robin and I offered up more prayers, had more conversations, and enlisted the faithful friends in our Tuesday night Bible study at the McCollum’s house to pray for us in our predicament: “Lord, give us wisdom. Should Taylor fly over for this interview?” Well, Vulcan simmered down and the lack of molten red as of late sure seemed like a green for go.

So, this afternoon, Robin -- teary eyed though she was -- drove me to Bush Intercontinental airport to bid me adieu and Godspeed on my return. I didn’t think she would ever let go. But she did. As I made my way to the gate, I thought that the coast (not to mention the sky) was clear. Of course, I was wrong.

Robin called me as I was waiting at gate E4 to depart and anxiously informed me of news reports announcing the re-eruptions of the Icelandic volcano. Wow, I thought we had clarity on this from the Lord. Apparently at this point, Northern Irish airports are canceling trans-atlantic flights. What to do? Here’s where the story gets pretty amazing, to my way of thinking anyway.

Well, we traded phone calls over the next 30 minutes, even as I was boarding the plane. She, of course, was none too pleased by my advance and found herself pleading with me to reconsider my journey. At last, having found my seat, she called me one last time. Before we hung up for the last time, and as the volcano was spewing clouds of ash all over the (formerly) bonnie skies of Northern Ireland and beyond (and consequently shutting down scheduled flights all over the UK), Robin, with choked emotion, delivered her final opinion:

“Taylor, I really don’t think you should go. I think this is exactly what we prayed about and God is giving us an answer.”

But this is not the astonishing part. In fact, it was predicable, if also gut-wrenching. The astonishing thing is my wife’s final words to me before my flight over the increasingly grey skies of the northern Atlantic. With all of her heart, she not only wanted me to stay but thought this the only solid and wise decision. Nonetheless, with our first child warm in her womb and a mere month away from being born into this cold world, and with her husband about to step onto what she basically understood to be a one-way ticket to a wide and watery grave/certain aquatic doom, she managed to squeak out these words:

“But the decision is yours to make. Regardless of what I think, I trust you. I love you. Goodbye.”

Thunderstruck, I hung up my cell phone and dropped it into my lap. She may have said “I desperately want you to come home to me, but if you think you must go, then you must go, and I trust you.” She may have said this, and I know she did. But it’s not what I heard. What I heard quite clearly was something else:

“I can’t see the way. It’s cloudy and dark. And it seems that there might be a better way of going about this. Nonetheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

Simone Weil has said somewhere that “Love is abdication.” That’s always been something I’ve understood a bit with the head and hardly at all with the heart.

Robin, thank you for allowing me to see the depth of his loving sacrifice a little more clearly through the pane of your release.

Postscript: As it turns out, I arrived safely into Heathrow, if an hour late. But making my way through customs, bags in hand, I looked up to the electronic departure board. My heart sank. Edinburgh . . . CANCELLED. I ended up making it to Edinburgh by train alongside a Jordanian Muslim named Asem, but (as the final line in The Neverending Story has it) “that is a different story.”


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