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How Love and Trust Work Together

I’ve been waiting for weeks to let you know about my job placement for the upcoming season at McMurdo, Antarctica. I was looking forward to serving the base but waiting for the official confirmation of my position. Yesterday, I learned that my job had been changed, most likely due to budget issues. In the end, I am excited to be part of the team in any capacity. But humanly speaking, it was a loss of expectation of working in a specific role. When the dust settles and everything is confirmed, I will let you know what my job is. For now, suffice it to say that I had to process the loss of expectation. It was a bummer.

This morning, when I was spending some time with the Father, I thought about how love and trust work together. Specifically, I was thinking about the way I process disappointment or trial in the context of my relationship with the Father. The key is to have overwhelming confidence in the love of the Father. Then, when I understand his love, I can trust him when life doesn’t work out the way I expected. If I am not entirely convinced the Father loves me with abandon, then I am unable to trust him fully. Trust naturally follows when I am awash in his love, overwhelmed by his embrace.

This does not mean we will never have moments of disappointment or trial. Nor does it minimize human emotions related to lost expectations, injury, or insult. We are human, after all. God created us with emotions. We don’t have to minimize our humanity. But when we experience these emotions, we can turn to the embrace of the Father to comfort and console. We settle in on his lap. We snuggle into his embrace. We show the Father our hurts. We look up into his eyes, gauging whether he understands. Finally secure in his love, we relax, tension easing, breathing slowing. Though we may not understand the circumstances surrounding our hurts, we can trust that he has every circumstance fully in his control. Our Father is God, after all.

Often, we try to trust God outside of the context of our relationship with him. But the two are intimately intertwined. Trust is woven together with love to form a blanket of protection for us. This is why an intimate relationship with the Father is critical. I cannot trust God if I do not fully embrace his love.

The Bible says that loving God with abandon is the most important commandment of all. Why is this? Because everything in our lives is affected by this one thing. Everything. This is why I am so passionate about the idea of sitting on the lap of God. This model of relationship with the Father has profoundly transformed my life. I can trust God because I have an intimate relationship with him as a toddler sitting on his lap. Of course, I may get hurt occasionally. Expectations may evaporate like morning dew in a hot summer sun. But through it all, I can trust him.

2022 Giving Challenge Update

Finally, thank you to everyone who gave so generously during the 24-hour 2022 Giving Challenge last month. With matching grants, the ministry will receive almost $4,000 to provide free ministry resources sharing the message of hope and healing through an intimate relationship with the Father. I can only imagine the impact your giving will have on thousands of lives. Thank you!

 

2022 Giving Challenge

 

The 2022 Giving Challenge is almost here!

QUICK FACTS:

THE DETAILS

The 2022 Giving Challenge is an exciting 24-hour giving event taking place from noon to noon on April 26th and 27th. To strengthen giving, The Patterson Foundation will provide a 1:1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor. All donations made during the Giving Challenge are unrestricted gifts to the ministry.

HOW TO GIVE

On April 27, beginning at noon, follow the link to the Giving Challenge website. You can check out the site in advance, but the option to donate is not available until the Giving Challenge begins at noon. The event ends at noon on April 27.

Click here to give with matching funds during the noon to noon window. Only donations made through the Giving Challenge link will qualify for matching funds.

Prior to and following the event, click here to support the ministry through our regular giving page. We appreciate your support all year long. Thank you!

MATCHING GRANT INFORMATION

The Foundation will double a maximum of $100 from each unique donor. If you want to give more than $100 and want to get the best donation possible for the ministry, then individual family members can each make a donation with different credit cards. A husband and wife could split a gift of $200, and each contribution of $100 would double. But the Foundation will only double a maximum of up to $100 of any unique donor’s gift. For example:

If you give $25 to the ministry through the Giving Challenge portal, the foundations will match your donation, and the ministry will receive $50. If you give $50, the ministry receives $100. If you give $500, the Foundation will match $100 of your gift, and the ministry gets $600.

The 2022 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at timothy@timothymark.com.

Antarctica, Book, Ministry Update

Antarctica Update

I am officially home for the spring and summer. I had my New Zealand Special Invitation Visa approved and was hopeful of getting the call to join the team with Cohort 5 in early January, but it was not meant to be for this season. My supervisor has been great throughout the process, even recommending me to other divisions, but in the end, I was not able to deploy for the 2021-2022 season. So now I set my sights on the fall. Lord willing, I will join the team for the 2022-2023 season, which begins around the beginning of October. I have re-applied for eight different positions from janitorial to administrative assistant. Next season, interviews for positions start in April, so I should know more this spring. I will keep you posted!

Book Update

Editing of Sitting on the Lap of God is complete. At this time, the focus is cover design and interior layout. Everything is on track to launch the book on June 13, 2022, the week before Father’s Day in the United States. By launch day, I plan to have three different versions of the book available – paperback, ebook, audiobook, and possibly a large-print version. I will be recording the audiobook myself. Production of the audiobook will likely take place next month. Lots to do!

I hope to get a lot of exposure for the book through interviews and podcasts coinciding with the launch. Early feedback on the content has been encouraging. Often I overthink things, strategizing, planning, and scheming ways to market and raise awareness. But in the end, God controls all things. I rest in his complete control.

Save the Date

The 24-hour Giving Challenge is April 26-27, 2022. During this unique 24-hour campaign, your gifts to the ministry up to $100 are DOUBLED by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with funding from the Paterson Foundation. I’ll share more details in the coming months.

Ministry Moment

The final cohort for the 2021-2022 summer season in Antarctica departed on January 4 for San Francisco for several days of Covid testing before flying to New Zealand and on to McMurdo. In the days leading up to the 4th, I had repacked my gear, ready to depart at a moment’s notice, still on standby, waiting for word to deploy. Two large duffels and a carry-on bag sat bulging on my office floor. For weeks, when the phone rang, a shot of adrenaline spiked as I looked at the incoming number to see if it was from the United States Antarctica Program. I checked email throughout the day, hoping for news. But as the day arrived, and still no word, it became clear I was not going to Antarctica this season.

When the finality of it hit me, for a moment, a cloud of disappointment settled on me. I gave myself a few moments to accept the reality. But almost immediately, I began to look forward to exciting days ahead. I am in an unusual situation where I have so many positive experiences going on in my life at the same time. The 2022 Giving Challenge is in April. The new book launches in June. In the fall, I will most likely be on a flight headed to Antarctica. How could I possibly dwell on not getting to go now? It makes no sense.

It took me a few days to shift gears, to realign my daily schedule with projects in the ministry and around the house I can focus on now. I gave myself a few days to unpack, storing the duffle bags in the back of the closet, putting away winter gear, filling the pantry with coffee supplies intended for an extended stay in a hostile, cold place. Yet, through every moment, a single thought saturated my thinking – the Father is so kind. It is the kindness of the Father that mystifies me so. That he is all-powerful yet kind is striking.

The Father reveals his kindness to us in a multitude of ways. Most notable is the gift of forgiveness he lavishes upon us. He gave us his Son to pay the penalty for our sin “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7, ESV). The Father’s kindness to us is displayed at the cross, but it doesn’t end there. It is manifested a thousand times a day in our lives.

I am aware of the Father’s kindness in the smallest details in my life. A thrift-store find of the perfect item makes me think of his kindness to me. The sun streaming through the window, warming me to the core, draws me to contemplate his kindness to me. A text from a friend initiating a laugh reminds me of his kindness. The way the morning sun strikes the bloom of an orchid in my garden prompts thoughts of his kindness to me. Making my bed, conscious that I have a home and a place to sleep while many go without, fills me with an awareness of his kindness. Over and again, a thousand insignificant moments are elevated to moments of gratitude through the mindfulness of his kindness to me.

This is why I feel it would be criminal to pout over not going to Antarctica this season. I have too much to be grateful for, too many reminders of the Father’s kindness in the past, and too much to look forward to in the days ahead.

We often struggle because we forget to factor in the kindness of the Father in the situations we face. Lost expectations are sure to occur. Disappointments will surely come. It is a natural part of life. Our nature is to focus on the negative, what we have lost in the trial. Often anxiety consumes us, filling every waking thought until our lives come to a halt, paralyzed by the challenge at hand.

It is in these moments that it is helpful to pause, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves of the kindness of the Father. Yes, my friends, he is kind. He shows his kindness to us a multitude of times a day. Look for those moments. Relish his kindness to you.

So I look forward to the year ahead with great anticipation. And if the Antarctica adventure is postponed for a time, I choose to focus on the face of the Father.

He is so kind.

 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas TreeMerry Christmas to you and your family. I trust this finds you well. Warm greetings from my home in Southwest Florida. I’ve just spent a few minutes in the gardens cleaning up after a freak wind storm on Tuesday. The high winds displaced many of the larger bromeliads. The Tom Adams Bridge, about a mile and a half from my home, recorded a wind gust of 86 mph at the peak of the storm. Of course, I loved the adrenaline rush. I am grateful I had minimal damage at home. Welcome to a tropical Christmas!

Here on Christmas Eve, my Christmas tree is in the corner of the living room with an old surfboard propped up on the wall behind it. Afternoon temps are in the mid-70s. As I go about my day, a YouTube video of a fireplace on my television fills the house with Christmas music. And this Christmas, I am filled with joy and peace over how I see God at work in my life.

I marvel at the gift of God’s presence, not only at Christmas but throughout the year. In the highs and lows, he is here, with us. Emmanuel. God with us.

Recently, I read through Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. When the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds, announcing his birth, the Bible says a multitude of the heavenly host suddenly appeared saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” (See Luke 2:14, ESV.) What a scene that must have been!

In the midst of this breathtaking experience, the heavenly beings declare peace on earth. Peace. Such a needed quality in their world and our world today. Peace. Harmony. Accord.

It is easy to forget the culture into which Jesus was born. The government mandated that everyone register for the census in the town where they were born. No exceptions. No religious exemption. Just make it happen. For Mary, seven months pregnant, ready to give birth at any moment, walking or traveling upon a donkey must have been a misery. Bethlehem was around ninety miles from Galilee, a trip that would have taken between four to nine days. Then, arriving in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary discover no rooms available to rent. The only accommodation, a cattle stall. How would you feel? Think about it, Mary and Joseph, teenagers, exhausted from the trip, far from anything familiar, giving birth for the first time, in a barn no less.

It is into this climate the heavenly host declares “peace.” In the midst of the chaos, peace.

Seems fitting for today as well. Wouldn’t you agree?

From that fateful moment in Bethlehem, God came near. God gives us peace through his presence with us. Emmanuel. He stands with us in the midst of the storm, protecting, surrounding us with his peace. Peace that cannot be taken away despite any government decree. Peace that cannot be removed by circumstances seemingly out of control. Just peace.

And so this Christmas, as I sit and enjoy the warm glow of the fake fireplace, I am grateful for peace. Peace that comes as a result of the awareness that the Lord is near. Peace in spite of a year that often felt out of control. Peace despite circumstances. Peace.

My wish for you this Christmas is the peace that passes understanding. May it be yours in abundance today and in the days ahead. May you be aware of the presence of God with you. Despite your circumstances, may you have this precious gift of peace.

Book update

We have completed the final edits of Sitting on the Lap of God: Discover the Father you’ve always longed for and are moving into the design stage. My goal is to have advance reader copies available in March to begin the pre-launch marketing. At this time, everything is on track. I expect to launch the book the week before Father’s Day in June 2022. It is a joy to see the project moving along.

Antarctica update

Still no firm news from the Ice. Recently, I received instruction from the USAP to apply for the Special Invitation Visa from New Zealand. I have now received the approved Visa. This vital step clears the way for possible deployment in early January. I am still waiting for an official word from my supervisor. Most of the team departs Antarctica for home in late February, so this would be a speedy trip if it does work out. However, it is still possible it may not work out for this season. With the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, I imagine there may be cutbacks similar to when the Delta variant surged this past summer.

It has been almost twelve months since I first applied for the team. What a roller coaster of a year it has been. My theory is that every great adventure has some adversity. The adversity is what makes it memorable. So I am grateful for every bump, turn, high, and low over the past year. I remain hopeful to be part of the team supporting the ongoing work of the National Science Foundation in Antarctica, whether this year or next.

End of Year Giving

Several folks have inquired about end-of-year giving. Some businesses also do matching gifts. Check with your employer if you are interested in this giving opportunity. Most companies will need to know that Timothy Mark Ministries is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and our EIN is 65-1054004.

Again, Merry Christmas to you and your family. I am looking forward to what God has planned in the year ahead.

Gratitude

The other day, I put my bed back together after laundering the sheets. It was a routine task. But as I pulled the top sheet tight, tucking the bottom edge under the mattress, suddenly I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was grateful to have a bed. I was grateful to have sheets. I was grateful to have a washer and dryer so I could wash the sheets at my convenience. I stood there in silence with the bed half-made. The Father’s kindness swept over me. It was so odd. I stood there thinking about his love, his care for me, worshiping the Father. Making the bed had become an act of worship. Imagine!

Most of the conversations I have with the Father revolve around his kindness to me. I am aware of his blessings in my life, his presence clearly felt, even in the mundane moments. The Bible says that in his presence, there is fulness of joy. I experience this. I hope you do as well, for it changes the way we see the little things in our lives.

Gratitude is the gift we give back to the Father for his gifts to us. He showers us with kindness. We give gratitude back. Back and forth, the giving continues.

And so this month, as the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, I wonder if we are grateful? Are we aware of the small things we often take for granted? Are we aware of how blessed we are?

I am grateful for the years of ministry behind me, for the hope of many years of ministry before me, for freedom in my schedule, for the privilege of sharing with so many my life and relationship with the Father.

I am grateful for the opportunity to join the team supporting the work of the National Science Foundation in Antarctica, whether that day comes this year or next, for the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows during the process of pursuing this adventure.

I am grateful for close friends, for short gaps between long conversations, for the cherished gift of their time and presence, the moments together more valuable than any trinket I could buy.

I am grateful for a home, for a place to retreat from the pressures of ministry and life. I am grateful for air conditioning in the sweltering days of summer and for heat when the occasional cold front passes through in winter.

I am grateful for the scent of French roast coffee first thing in the morning while the house is still dark, for silence, for contemplation, for an easing into the day with expectation and joy.

I am grateful for the tropical gardens that encircle my home, for the bromeliads, the Coconut palms, the yellow Allamanda blossoms smiling at me as I survey the grounds in the soft light after sunrise, coffee in hand.

I am grateful for flocks of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Snowy Egrets, and Glossy Ibises, for their piercing greetings as they circle and descend while morning mists awake and rise from the lake.

I am grateful for a growing understanding of the love of the Father God and his presence with me, for time spent in silence on his lap, for his embrace, for his listening ear, for his patience, for his grace and the countless times I have received it.

And I am grateful for folks like you who encourage me to keep keeping on, who support me in my crazy adventures, who pray, who write, who share. Thank you. I am grateful.

Antarctica Update

At this time, I am still in a holding pattern to deploy to Antarctica. However, I am in regular communication with my supervisor. She is currently on base in McMurdo overseeing the Lodging Department. We spoke recently, and there may be an opening to join the team in January. I am optimistic for more news to share in the next few weeks. I am hopeful to be part of the team this season, but if not, then I will look forward to next year with great anticipation.

Book Update

My editor has finished the primary edit of my new book, Sitting on the Lap of God. We are moving forward with various reviews for grammar and theology. A designer in Toronto is currently working on the cover artwork and interior design. At this time, everything looks like it is on schedule for a launch in June of next year.

In all, I am grateful.

A Breach in the Wall of Peace

The on-again-off-again Antarctica experience has hit another snag. As you know, a few weeks ago, my supervisor called me with the exciting news that she was upgrading me to Standby status. She wanted me to fly to San Francisco on October 5 to be ready to deploy in the event that a team member tested positive for Covid. I was very excited. Even though it was not a guarantee, it was a step closer to McMurdo.

I closed down the house. I packed my bags. I canceled the internet service at my home and put my car insurance on vacation mode. I made arrangements with friends to manage my property while I was gone. Finally, everything was ready to go.

The United States Antarctica Program has a special relationship with the New Zealand government. So although New Zealand is closed due to pandemic restrictions, USAP employees are allowed to transit through the country after a two-week quarantine period. But to fly to New Zealand, and ultimately McMurdo, I need a special invitation visa from the New Zealand government. After being upgraded to Standby, I reached out to my supervisor, expressing concern that I had not heard anything from Travel regarding the visa or the flight to San Francisco. My supervisor flagged the concern up through channels. Something was amiss.

Finally, I received a call from upper management. The news was not good. Six weeks ago, a clerical error was made on my account. When I was downgraded from Primary to Alternate status, a mistake was made. Instead of being downgraded to Alternate status, my account was accidentally removed from the system! I was listed as inactive. Because I was listed in the system as inactive, none of my information was forwarded to New Zealand. No special invitation visa was applied for with my account. Without the visa application, I could not fly to New Zealand. The October 5 trip was canceled.

A breach in the wall of peace

When I got the call, I was driving to the gym. I attempted a workout, but my mind was trying to process what had just happened. The door to Antarctica was slowly closing. So, finally, I gave up and went home.

I settled in on my favorite chair and spent some time sitting on the lap of God. I needed to be held, comforted, the disappointment profound. I saw myself sitting there on the lap of the Father God, held by him. But this time was different. This time, he was rocking me in a rocking chair. Back and forth it went as I sat in silence, being held by him. In the multitude of times I’ve imagined myself on his lap, I have never thought of it in a rocking chair. There’s something comforting about a rocking chair, an even deeper intimacy. It was a profound moment for me.

Until I got the call last week, I’ve marveled at the peace of God protecting me from discouragement or dismay in this long, drawn-out process. I wrote about it in the blog, “The Peace that Guards us.” But, the news that a clerical error had deactivated my account hit me hard. It felt like a kick in the gut. The special forces team, protecting me with the peace of God, was breached. I lost hope. I was discouraged. I muddled through the weekend, not sure how to proceed.

I spent extended time on the lap of God. It took me a couple of days to grieve the loss. Yet, I found hope in a scrap of paper I’ve carried with me for over twenty-four years.

The Receipt

In 1997, I was only beginning to walk by faith. I had come to know the Father God in a personal way after working through the Experiencing God Bible study by Henry Blackaby. In the freshness of that budding relationship, I committed to living by faith. I would carry no debt. I would trust God alone to meet my needs. I would pray, and he would provide. No credit cards to bail me out. God alone.

On April 5, 1997, I was broke. I had no money. I had even looked in the sofa cushions for loose change. Nothing.

Meanwhile, I needed to drive from Clearwater, Florida, down to Englewood to interview at a church for a position. Not only did I not have any money, but I also did not have any gas in my car. I was radically trusting God to provide. I got up that morning, and in child-like faith, said, “Father, today I need some gas to drive to Englewood. I would be so grateful if you would provide the gas I need.” I packed the car and put the key in the ignition, ready to leave with no idea how God would provide the gas for the vehicle. But then I looked up and saw something stuck under the windshield wiper.

A crisp twenty-dollar bill fluttered in the morning breeze.

I was stunned! I could not believe it! This moment was the first awkward baby step of faith for me. God had provided money for gas! To this day, I do not know how the bill got on my windshield. I went to the gas station and pumped the whole twenty bucks into the tank. I was shouting for joy as I drove southward down 275 toward Englewood. I was on a high, singing worship songs as I went along.

That was when I saw the sign over the expressway. My jaw fell open in shock. I took the next exit, drove over to a roadside parking lot, and turned off the car. Three little words had silenced my celebration. “Pay toll ahead.”

“God,” I said, “you knew I was going to have to pay this toll, and yet you let me put the whole twenty bucks into the tank.” Silence. I looked out the window to the ground below to see if perhaps someone had emptied an ashtray, and maybe there might be some coins on the ground. Nothing.

This incident was before cell phone and GPS. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I turned the car north and started driving back the way I came. I would have to find another route.

I got about a mile up the road when the Holy Spirit began to speak to me. “Tim,” he said, “didn’t you get that wallet for Christmas?”

“Yes,” I cautiously replied.

“And when your friend gave you the wallet, didn’t he put a dollar bill in it, sort of as a blessing.”

“Yes, God, but that dollar is long gone.”

I took the wallet out as I continued to drive. I flipped through all the pockets on the inside. In the center pocket of the wallet, there was the dollar bill, carefully folded, hidden from sight.

I could not believe it! I had no idea that dollar was there. At this point, I didn’t know how much the toll was, but I thought, “I’m going for it!” So I turned the car around at the next exit and headed for the toll booth.

The toll was precisely one dollar. I have the receipt for the toll in my wallet today. It is a reminder of the faithfulness of the Father God. When life is difficult, I pull out the receipt and remind myself of his faithfulness to me. If God was so gracious as to provide a single dollar when I needed it, then surely he is aware of the big stuff as well. Therefore, I can trust his provision in any area of life.

And so last Friday, as I sat reeling from the blow to my dream of experiencing Antarctica, I opened my wallet and pulled out the receipt one more time. Tears welled up in my eyes as I considered his faithfulness to me. All these years, he has taken care of me. Again and again, he has proven himself faithful. His kindness astounds me; His faithfulness, a treasure.

For over twenty-four years, he has taken care of me as I have waited on him. I have no debt. None. No mortgage debt, no car payments, no credit card debt. I live in a beautiful home that he provided for me. He gave me a wonderful vehicle to drive. I live a lifestyle far beyond my income, especially considering that, in most years, my ministry salary is well below the poverty line. On average, my salary is about $15,000 a year. You cannot explain my life apart from the kindness of the Father God. It simply makes no sense.

And so I held the receipt in my hands. A print shop clerk laminated the fragile paper many years ago. The blue ink is a bit faded, and the edges are curled from where the wallet folded. But if you look closely, you can still read the details. April 5, 1997. Lane #4. Toll: $1.00. Cash.

I love my Father God so much. Yes, the Antarctica puzzle remains unfinished. But I can turn to him in my disappointment and find he is waiting to hold me. This turning toward him instead of away is the key.

We will face disappointment in our lives. It is human. The Father God designed us in such a way that we deeply feel the loss of an expectation. We do not criticize ourselves for our humanity. But when we experience this loss of expectation, how we respond is critical.

Our natural response is to feel angry at the injustice. We stew over details, replaying the experience in our minds, seeking a resolution that will ease the pain, trying to resolve the mystery of the unknown. I’ve done this. But this is not helpful. Better to focus our minds on the faithfulness of the Father.

When we experience these emotions, how we respond matters. Instead of focusing on what we do not know, we focus on what we do know. So I remind myself of the Father’s faithfulness as I sit on his lap, his arms around me, rocking back and forth. The Father is faithful. I have a scrap of paper in my wallet that proves it.

Where Antarctica stands now

Management has restored my account to Alternate status and has sent my information to New Zealand. However, it may take four to six weeks to get the visa. So the next possible opportunity to join the team would likely be in November.

At this time, the only way I will go to McMurdo this season is if someone quits or gets fired. It is still possible as this has happened in past seasons. My hope is restored, and I expect that I may still go sometime this fall. My supervisor also reminded me that if, for some reason, I do not make the team this season, I am first in line for next year. The dream is not over; it is merely delayed.

I rest in the reminder of the faithfulness of my Father. I am at peace again, the breach restored.

I slide the receipt back into my wallet, where it will stay until I need it again.

Book Update

My editor is currently working her way through the new book. This content edit is the first of several stages of editing. You can join me in praying for her as she helps in this critical way. I am thrilled to be at this point in the project timeline. I expect to have early Advance Reader Copies available sometime in February of next year. I am anticipating launching the book in June.

Upgraded to Standby Status for Antarctica

My getting-a-job-in-Antarctica-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic roller coaster continues to roll!

I am now on standby to join the team! At this time, the USAP is flying me to San Fransisco on October 5. There I’ll meet up with a group of employees transitioning to McMurdo. All of us will get tested for Covid and quarantine for four days. If any team member tests positive or cannot go for another reason, I move from standby to primary status and join the team flying to New Zealand.

My standby status means I am still not guaranteed to go, but this is a positive development.
In the words of my supervisor, “Although not a guarantee, it’s a step closer to getting to McMurdo.”

There is the possibility that I will fly to San Fransisco, nothing happens, and I fly home. Further, even flying on to New Zealand is not a guarantee I will get to McMurdo. There is a two-week quarantine in New Zealand with multiple Covid tests. So nothing is set in stone.

I am content to wait on the Father to see what he has planned.

Waiting Well

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14, ESV

Book Update

I have finished the first draft of the book “Sitting on the Lap of God.” I celebrate this important milestone. Currently, I am going back through the chapters with a light grammar edit, and then I will turn it over to my editor for the first of several editing stages. Over the next few months, we will produce a finished manuscript. I expect to have Advanced Reader Copies ready in March. I plan to launch the book for sale at the beginning of June in 2022, in time for Father Day weekend. So we are still nine months away from launch. In between, I am developing an extensive marketing campaign to raise awareness of the book. In all, I am excited to see the process moving forward.

I am far more excited about this project than I am about the prospect of going to Antarctica. I believe the book will help many to find the love of the Father in their own lives.

Antarctica Update

At this time, there are no new updates to share regarding my job at the McMurdo research base in Antarctica. I am waiting for an assignment. If you missed the last update, the National Science Foundation decided to scale back operations at McMurdo due to the most recent surge in the pandemic. As a result, they cut my position. I keep in touch with my boss regularly. The first of three Mainbody groups began deploying on September 11. Over the next several weeks, two more groups will transition through the quarantine process in New Zealand. With my alternate status, I am available to replace anyone who may not be able to go. So, for now, I have to wait and see what will happen. I may be called up to replace someone this season. If that does not happen, then I am first in line for a position next year.

I think I confused some by writing that I hope to work in Antarctica for the next several years. But the work in Antarctica I am pursuing is seasonal. It is only for the four months of Austral Summer – October through February. So if I get this job, I would be gone from October through February only. So, to clarify, I am hoping to work in Antarctica seasonally from October through February for the next several years.

There are three main United States research bases in Antarctica. I hope to experience each one.

McMurdo is the largest and the main jumping-off point for most of the research on the continent. I am currently under contract to work here in the lodging department. When fully operational during the Austral Summer, the base houses around 900 people with approximately 600 researchers and 300 support staff. The average temperature in the summer is around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. To see an image of the base and to read more information, click here: https://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/mcmwebcam.cfm

The South Pole station, nearer the continent’s center, is smaller, with around 125 people during summer. It is the harshest environment of the three, with average high temperatures around -18 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Click here to learn more about the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station: https://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/spwebcam.cfm

Finally, the Palmer Station, on the opposite end of the continent from McMurdo, is the smallest of the three bases, with up to 44 people in the summer. Palmer is the warmest of the three bases, with average temperatures in the summer around 36 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the most picturesque, in my opinion, with abundant wildlife. Here is a link to the webcam at the Palmer Station:  https://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/palwebcam.cfm

In the Waiting

And so I am in waiting mode again. Again! Oh, there must be a lesson in all this. As I wrote in the last update, I remain guarded by the peace of God through this process. If you missed that update, click here to read it.

I know of no one who enjoys waiting. But when you think about it, waiting is a natural part of our lives. We wait for an end to the pandemic. We wait for a new school season to begin, then we wait for summer vacation to start. We wait for a new friend to return a text. We wait to hear back from a job interview. We wait for a vegetable garden to grow, then we wait for the tomato to ripen. We wait in waiting rooms for appointments to finally begin.

I wait for the book to be complete. And I wait for a position to open in Antarctica.

Waiting is natural. Waiting well is the trick.

The Bible says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

In this passage, the original language for the word “wait” has the connotation of a rope under tension. It is the tension of enduring, like a tie-down strap holding an object in place during a storm. Waiting in this context infers a sense of tension.

I live in Southwest Florida in an area prone to hurricanes. Years ago, my sailboat was out of the water in the work yard of a marina. As Hurricane Irma approached, staff at the marina secured the vessel with strong tie-down straps. They attached one end of the six-inch-wide straps to the vessel and the other end to screw anchors they drilled into the ground. The vessel rode out ninety miles an hour winds without tipping over. The winds put the tie-downs under great stress. In essence, the tie-down straps waited out the storm. As the winds increased, the tension also increased. But, the straps waited well and saved the boat from harm.

Waiting well means navigating this tension. How do we do this? How do we wait well?

When I am in the waiting mode, I make extra time to pull back into my relationship with God. I call this time “Sitting on the Lap of God.” It is the primary way I view my relationship with the Father. So I wait on his lap, held in his embrace, while the storm rages around me. He is responsible for managing the tension accompanying the storm. My responsibility is to sit in stillness on his lap.

Occasionally, I find myself wandering about, momentarily forgetting my relationship with the Father, and I feel the tension building within. I try to fix it. I work to make the situation better. I take responsibility for the tension instead of letting the Father take care of it. When I take responsibility for the wait, I bear the entire load of the pressure. When I let the Father take responsibility, I am at rest.

I have enjoyed an extraordinary peace since learning my job in Antarctica had been cut. The peace of God has guarded me well. Then one day, I checked in on the Facebook group for employees of the United States Antarctica Program. A pang of sadness started to creep in as I read through the posts of employees who were preparing to deploy. I started feeling melancholy. It was the equivalent of checking in on an old girlfriend, only to discover she has moved on and is happy without you! The peace I had enjoyed started fraying. As soon as I realized what was happening, I closed the website and crawled back on the lap of the Father God. I had wandered off the lap of the Father, and tension was settling in where peace had reigned. The solution was to get back on the lap of God.

As we wait, we wait for the Lord. We wait for him to decide the next move. We spend more time with him. We focus our eyes on him. We look up from his knee and gaze at his face. The storm does not faze him. He feels no tension. He is at rest. He strengthens us. We are encouraged. We are secure on his lap. And we wait well.

My friend, are you in a season of waiting? Are you waiting well? Or are you feeling the tension building as you wait out the storm? If so, join me in learning to be still on the lap of God. Wait for him to move.

Be strong. Take courage. Wait for the Lord!

 

 

 

 

The Peace that Guards Us

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV.)

In the previous update, I shared the lessons the Father was teaching me regarding my anxiety. If you missed that article, you can read it here: https://timothymark.com/countdown-to-antarctica/

At the time, little did I know how quickly circumstances in my world would change.

Within days of posting the previous blog, the sailboat sold! It is an immense relief to know it is taken care of before departing for Antarctica. I celebrate this milestone.

That’s the good news. Now for the bad news.

This past Tuesday evening, I received an email from my supervisor in Antarctica. The subject line read, “Unfortunate News.” Cautiously, I opened the email. The National Science Foundation (NSF) oversees the research and work at McMurdo, Antarctica. Due to the escalating pandemic, they decided to cut back the scale of work at McMurdo this season. Unfortunately, as a result, my position was eliminated. That’s right. Downsized. Cut. Gone. Crickets chirping. I am back in alternate status. If anything opens up, they will let me know.

I sat there on the couch, trying to process the message, and reread the email on my cell phone. And I smiled. Yes, I actually smiled. And here is where it gets interesting.

You would imagine I would be disappointed, sad, bummed out. But I was not. I sat there smiling, completely content, not a care in the world, not the least bit disappointed. I began to wonder if I was mentally okay. Have I finally lost my mind? Has the stress become so great that I have completely lost it?

I had the most astounding peace. I do not have words to describe it. No worry. No anxiety. Just complete, utter peace, satisfied, full of joy. Not a care in the world.

And that is when the lesson I recently learned came back to my mind. Ah, yes, the Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious. Surrender everything to the Father. And the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind.

There it was! I was experiencing the peace of God that is beyond understanding! It was guarding me, protecting my heart, and defending my mind. I was flabbergasted. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Honestly, I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. Surely dismay would follow. But peace remained, anchoring me, filling me, washing over me.

I settled in to spend a few moments talking about the situation with the Father. Then, in my mind, I saw myself sitting on his lap, on his left knee. His arm was around me, his hand resting on my leg. I craned my neck and looked down over the side of his leg. There, on the floor below at his feet, was a tiny toy sailboat lying on its side. Nearby, to the right of the sailboat, was a small toy home. Then, just further away, I saw a child-sized puzzle, partially finished, the three or four remaining pieces scattered about the edges. On the face of the puzzle was the continent of Antarctica, nearly complete.

In that beautiful moment, I saw my life from the perspective of the lap of God, and it changed everything. My toys, the things I highly value in my childlike mind, lay scattered at his feet. There on his lap, none of them mattered in the least. His embrace overwhelmed me. His love filled me to the full. I sat there looking at my toys and realized there is simply no comparison to the feeling I get when I am with my Father God. Nothing even comes close. I sat there on his lap, resting in his peace, willing to set aside my toys for the joy of being with my Father, who loves me so profoundly.

I don’t recall ever experiencing peace like this in my life. It was a big moment, one I will long remember. I suspect the path to this overwhelming peace begins with surrender. I believe the moments of surrender I experienced a few weeks ago made possible the peace I enjoy today. For I think it’s unlikely that peace is possible while we cling to our toys, our problems, and our circumstances.

Further, the peace of God is not something we generate through will or effort. It is something that is given to us by God. It is the peace of or from God. Some reading this will think, “Wow, look how Tim is responding.” But that implies that I am somehow willing myself to have peace. That is not true! No, it is the supernatural peace of God at work. It is his peace that is doing the heavy lifting.

The Bible says the peace of God guards us. In the original language, it is a military term. His peace sets up a perimeter around us like a special forces team with guns drawn, defending against anything that would discourage, defeat, or cause anxiety from affecting our hearts and our minds. I merely sit there in the middle, surrendered to the Father’s embrace, surrounded by his peace. His peace guards our hearts, that place of emotion and feeling. And it guards our minds, that place of intellect and thought. Ironically, the Bible says the peace of God is beyond understanding. So while we cannot comprehend it, we experience it to the full in our hearts and minds.

The Bible says when we are aware that the owner of our lives and toys is near, we have no reason to be anxious about anything. We bring all our requests to our loving Father by prayer with thanksgiving. Then, the peace of God, which is beyond comprehension, guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) The result of all this is that his peace protects us! Imagine. All our anxieties are vanquished. We rest in his care.

The Lord is at hand. I rest in his embrace.

Antarctica Update

With this change, there is still a possibility I will be in Antarctica this winter. If an existing team member falls ill or leaves the program for some reason, management may ask me to replace them. So I keep my bags packed and ready to go on short notice. I know of other past season team members who were alternates who were called in November to join the team on base. So we will wait to see what God has planned. The good news is that if I do not make it to the Ice this year, I get priority in joining the team next year! So there is still a great deal of hope to see the puzzle completed.

Once again, I will not have access to Facebook or any other social media sites in Antarctica. The only updates I expect to make will be through the email mailing list. If you are reading this on the website or from a forwarded email and are not currently a member, join the community here: https://timothymark.com/email-signup/

 

The Lord is at hand

As a reminder, I will not have access to Facebook or any other social media site when I am in Antarctica. The only updates I expect to make will be through the email mailing list. If you are reading this on the website or from a forwarded email and are not currently a member, you can join the list here: https://timothymark.com/email-signup/

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5b-7, ESV.)

The clock is ticking, and the day of departure for Antarctica is only a few weeks away. Recently, I reviewed my journal of this journey over the past few months, and I noticed a disturbing trend. Again and again, I wrote about the anxiety I was feeling through the process of getting the job and preparing to leave. A sense of anxiety seems to be on repeat play. Throughout this season, there have been many moments when I felt anxious. The dream is so big and challenging to attain. It is a rare handful of people who get the opportunity I have sought. Now, feeling so close to the finish line, I feel stressed instead of at peace.

For several years, I have felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities with the ministry, work outside of the ministry, owning a home, owning a vehicle, and sailboat, all of which need attention and focus. Now, with deploying to Antarctica on the horizon, I feel like I am driving a car 100 miles per hour, trying to bring it to a complete stop before I leave. I am standing on the brake as hard as I can, but it feels like I am locked up and in a slide out of control. The perception has filled me with anxiety over and over again.

I can give many logical reasons why I should not feel anxious. But anxiety doesn’t respond to logic. Instead, anxiety glares at me, demanding my attention. When I lay down to sleep, it awakens, prodding me, imposing itself, stealing slumber and rest. Instead of shutting off, my brain turns on, trying to settle anxious thoughts that have rested in the background all day. The only way to break the cycle is to get up and read a book or watch TV until I finally feel able to go to sleep. This cycle happened to me in the process of getting the Primary position at McMurdo. And I find it happening to me again as the days tick down to deploying in September.

I’ve worked hard to check things off my list as I close down my life here for the time being. I’ve purchased all the items required, and my bags are still a few pounds under the allowed weight. But one essential thing remains unresolved – what to do with my sailboat.

In Florida, the winter months are the best months for sailing and living aboard the vessel. Most sailboat owners put their boats into safe storage for the summer hurricane season. It does not make sense to keep the sailboat since I will likely be working in Antarctica for the next few winters (i.e., the best time to live aboard and sail). So, I decided to sell it.

During this time, writing the book has been my primary focus. After that, I focused on preparing for a week of meetings at the end of last month. Now, with just five weeks away from the expected departure, I am finally getting around to listing the boat for sale. Once again, a sense of panic settled in. I began to feel anxious about it. Logically, I know I can just put it in storage and manage it next year. But again, my anxiety does not respond to logic.

Anxiety gnawed at my gut. At the height of my concern, the Father reminded me of a verse I learned as a child. It says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:-7, ESV.)

I looked up the verses on my laptop. I noticed an odd thing. In the English Standard Version, the phrase, “do not be anxious about anything…” begins in the lower case, implying it is in the middle of a thought or sentence. Curious, I looked up the whole passage to consider the context. There it was. The preceding phrase says, “The Lord is at hand;” Read together it says this: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything….”

I looked into the original language for the phrase “The Lord is at hand.” For the word “Lord,” Strong’s Concordance describes it this way: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding; master, Lord or the possessor and disposer of a thing.

I was taken aback. The answer to my anxiety appeared in a straightforward phrase. “He to whom a person or thing belongs.” Those words exposed the heart of my fear. The glaring truth is that I was attempting to play God. But God alone is Lord. I belong to him.

Further, everything in my care belongs to him. I am merely the steward. I take care of his things the best I can. Even my body is his. I cannot change myself. I cannot control whether or not I get Covid before I depart for McMurdo. I cannot change my circumstances. I can only surrender, yielding my rights of ownership, yielding control, giving up the right of deciding what is best for me or my possessions. I belong to him. My home belongs to him. My car belongs to him. My sailboat belongs to him. It all belongs to him, and he alone has the power of deciding how to use it or even dispose of it. I say again. He alone has the power of deciding how to use it or even dispose of it.

For days I had tried to discipline myself not to be anxious. But trying harder to overcome my anxiety did not work. Surrender did. Appalled, I confessed to the Father how I have attempted to control my situation with getting the job in Antarctica. Same with taking care of the sailboat before I leave. I have tried to figure it out on my own instead of resting in the knowledge that my Father is the only owner of the vessel. He alone has the power of deciding what is best and how to dispose of it if necessary. If he doesn’t want to sell it, it won’t sell. If he wants to store it, he will store it. It is not my decision to make. So I wait for him to tell me what he wants me to do with his things.

Further, the Bible says, “The Lord is at hand.” He is not some faraway God, unconcerned with our day-to-day lives. He is near. He is with us. The one who owns all things and has the authority to decide what is best is close. He is aware. It is not as if he is somehow preoccupied somewhere far away in the universe. He is here! With us!

According to this passage, my sole responsibility is to bring all my requests to the Father, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving. I spent an hour talking with the Father, surrendering anew and afresh, letting go of my desire to control, yielding fully, finally resting in his embrace. My prayer had little to do with going to Antarctica and even less to do with a sailboat. It had everything to do with emptying my heart. The one thing that actually matters to my Father. My heart.

For me, the key to overcoming anxiety is not trying harder. It is surrender. And so I do not ask for relief; I ask for conformity. The Father pulls, stretches, slowly conforms me to the image of Jesus. Jesus, the son who trusted his Father fully even to the point of laying down his life. When we are aware of the presence of the Lord with us, we do not need to be anxious about anything. He is at hand. He is near. He is with us. Because of that, we let go of our anxious thoughts.

At that moment, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. When I surrendered control to my Father, I found a fresh perspective and peace. Options for storing the boat became clear, negating the pressure to make a quick sale before departure. Peace settled in where anxiety had ruled. And most importantly, my Father realigned my heart with his.