Going back to Tanzania is not as exciting for me as you might think. Although the people and place are close to my heart, I know that returning won’t be easy. When I stop to really contemplate what it will be like, I find myself wondering how I will do what I feel burdened to do, how the living situation will work out, whether I will be able to cope. I feel so inadequate, so weak, so unsure. At the same time, I know that I can’t know everything before I go, and maybe I need to just get on with it and see what happens.
A couple of weeks ago I popped home to spend the weekend with family, my head full of such thoughts. At church that Sunday morning the pastor preached from Ecclesiastes 11:1-6, a passage that includes these words:
“Whoever watches the wind will not plant… As you do not know the path of the wind…So you cannot understand the work of God the Maker of all things.”
The pastor pointed out that in God’s work we cannot be certain of the outcome and so we shouldn’t wait for certainty but rather just get out there and do something and trust the Lord of the harvest to work. This seemed to be a direct challenge, and encouragement, to me.
And as God so often does, He reinforced the point the following week. As I continued through Romans in my quiet times, I reached Romans 15, where Paul tells the Romans of his intent to go to Spain and visit them on the way. However, Tom Wright comments:
“Did Paul ever get to Spain? There is no evidence whatever that he did. But his desire to do so, and the fact that he wrote Romans as part of the preparation for such a trip, point out an extremely important lesson for us all. Perhaps God sometimes allows us to dream dreams of what he wants us to do, not necessarily so that we can fulfil all of them…but so that we will take the first steps towards fulfilling them. And perhaps those first steps (as they appear to us) are in fact the key things that God actually wants us to do.”
It struck me that the passion I have to see my brothers and sisters in Tanzania growing in knowledge of God through His Word and maturing in the faith should drive me forward. Whether my dreams about this work will be realised may not matter, for who knows what God may do along the way?
Drawing all of this together, I need to stop looking at the ‘wind’ (the challenges out there and my weaknesses), and head to ‘Spain’ and trust God to do what He will along the way. I need to just do it! This doesn’t mean that I am now full of confidence and raring to go, but I believe God is gently encouraging me to give it a go. Please pray for courage!
(Quotation taken from Tom Wright’s commentary, Paul for Everyone - Romans Part 2, p.125)