The madness leading up to our being able to turn in the paperwork for our application for temporary residence was stressful and taxing. As I reported here in detail, the whole three month ordeal took 60 hours of my time. I considered our first year of life a learning curve equivalent to a masters degree. This was a second one.
If they grant TR to us, however, it will all be worth it – three years of relative peace, without having to worry about visas, registrations, or leaving periodically. Beyond the practical lessons, however, was one God moment worth highlighting. Although it was only on the third visit to the Federal Immigration Service that they accepted our applications, the breakthrough came on the second visit:
Between the 1st and 2nd visits we had to have a miracle of speed – produce, among other things, authenticated birth certificates from Virginia in 15 days. What our $128 speedy delivery service said would take 15-19 days (plus international delivery)came down to the wire. I picked up the FedEx pakage the morning of our appointment, rushed it to the translation office, and then over to Immigration in time to meet Diana for our appointment at 2pm.
We stood there with the crowd outside the high sheet metal fence and gates around the compound, waiting for them to let us in. Right at 2pm, the guard started to open the gate, but it was stuck for some reason. He climbed up and stuck his head over the top and called out, asking if someone would kick it open. I was the nearest man, so I gave it a kick. (How I wish we had had a camera!) “Harder,” some encouraged me. Again. “Even harder.” I gave it a mighty blow, and it blew open. Immediately I thought of Jesus’ words: “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I knew it was a sign that God was giving us access to Russia, probably at a more profound level than we know.
What I didn’t think about was the fact that it took three blows. After our third and final appointment, I saw the connection. This caused me to reflect as well on my heart when I was actually trying to kick the gate in. The first time, I expected it to be easy. That was naive. The second time, I thought that extra energy would do the trick. That was foolish. The third time, I got an attitude towards the gate. That was God.
You see, I had felt that God had already given me an inner conviction that He was making the way for us, so I really should have taken this opportunity to make a bold declaration of God’s intent to overrun the gates of the enemy’s stronghold in Russia. How often do you have a government official asking you to “kick their gates in”? But God knew where my faith was, and yet He is still faithful.