Last week, I stood in a small office dressed in dark denim jeans and a nice blouse wrapped in a cozy sweater. To my left, my husband also stood, dressed in his own jeans and fancy button-down shirt, resolute next to me. In front of us stood our interviewer, who could change both of our lives both negatively and positively. In a calm, authoritative voice she asked us to raise our right hand and give an oath.
The months leading up to this moment have been nerve-racking. For nine months my husband, a handsome Brazilian man, has been undergoing a process to become a green-card holder. By definition this simply means he holds a permit that allows him as a foreign national to live and work permanently in the US.
Last June we compiled our papers that detailed our lives from the time we were born to our present situation, which equaled about 4.5 lbs. of paper, and sent it to the U.S. government to be looked over and processed.
For these last nine months the term “waiting” has taken on a whole new level. After sending all of our information in, confident that everything was printed, checked, re-checked, and polished, a week later I came home to a thick, manila envelope that bore the mark of both my name and my husbands. I felt like someone had just sucker-punched me. I went inside to open the package before my husband got home. Running my finger over the lip of the seal, I ripped it open to find all of our papers inside with a perfectly red, inked REJECTION stamp on the first page. Tears began to gather as I tried to figure out why, why in the world we were denied. The explanation was highlighted in a bright yellow hue. One of the forms we had submitted had been updated and all we needed to do was re-do the form and send it back in. This was our catapult into a new journey full of waves consisting of fear, elation, apprehension, and excitement.
Each month required something different, whether that be a trip to Philadelphia or a receiving a letter in the mail extending to us a glimmer of hope for a light at the end of this seemingly never-ending tunnel.
The week leading up to the green card interview, I was challenged to dwell on Scripture that would alleviate the anxiety or worry that would build as the day approached. Fingering through several passages of Scripture, I landed on Psalm 66. Verses 10-12 were the salve for my wounded and worn heart.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
The phrase “you have brought us out to a place of abundance” was a drink of water for this parched soul. Wagner and I were tried, tested, and in many ways crushed the last nine months. This trek, required by the government, had caused many tears to be shed and prayers to be lifted. Yet He had always brought us out to a place of abundance. Whether through the people who held our hands and offered up pleas to the Lord to be gracious or the people who came alongside with the Kleenex and offered hugs. He loves us. Oh how He loves. This love has never failed and it never gives up and it certainly never runs out. It is constantly given through His people and His Word.
We have learned so much about God and His love toward us, but also the humble, obedient posture necessary to follow and trust Him. Holding fast to what is good, we did not cling to what is fleeting. It was the only way we could enter through our interviewer’s door.
No matter what happened that day we knew that He would bring us out to a place of abundance with or without a green card.
Snapshots cross my mind as I recall our meeting. I remember the interviewer’s tasteful, emerald shirt and the thimble guarding her right thumb as she shuffled through our papers. I relive the instance that I looked at Wagner and without sharing a single word knew that this was the moment we had prepared for. It was the time that we kept stating to ourselves that if God is for us who can be against us. He is greater, He is stronger and He is higher than any other.
The interview was far from a lovely encounter. In fact, we left utterly doubting every answer we gave, but fastened to the hope that our papers, our process was blessed. We trusted we would be brought to a place of abundance.
And we were.
God is good. God is faithful. God tested us. We were tried. We were tested. We were crushed. We were assailed by the schemes of man. We went through the fire that threatened to scorch our faith. We went through the waters that split wide so we could walk right through them. We lifted our eyes. He brought us to a place of abundance. But it wasn’t the green card that signified that abundance.
It was God, Himself. He was the abundance. He was the place that we would always be abundant. He was the never-changing element. He was our solid rock. He was our shield, our buckler even when we were shaken by the processes required by men. He was abundant in love to calm the fears of our hearts. He was abundant in comfort through the tears shed. He was abundant in grace and patience for the moments we doubted His goodness and power. He was abundant in strength to renew our weary bodies.
Wagner obtained his green card by the grace of God. We cannot cease to give thanks and praise to His name for this gift.
But what I continue to remember, what I continue to rehearse in my mind, is Psalm 66:10-12. No matter the occasion, no matter the situation, God will bring me to a place of abundance because He is the abundance. He is abundant in love, patience, justice, goodness, mercy, grace, strength and so much more. It doesn’t run out.
Believer, He is abundance. Reach out your hand and be lavished in love.
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”