Sunday, September 13, 2015
“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.” ― David Livingstone (famous missionary who lived in Tanzania in the 1870’s)
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t facing my coming journey with more than a little trepidation. In fact, fear has kept me from sleep on more than one night. Getting out of bed one such sleepless night recently, I turned as I often do, to a well-worn Bible for some intestinal fortitude. Found it, too. Realized with a palm smack to the forehead, what an idiot I had been. All I had done was to ignore, forget, and pretend that I had no faith in God, no trust in His mercy, and no memories of all the times that He held my life in His hands and breathed even more life back into me. Declared dead in an emergency room, being told I only had two more years to live (in 1977), surviving a light plane crash, finding myself in a ditch with a still running motorcycle on top of me, choking on a cheeseburger . . . the list goes on and on but in every single instance God was there—with me, sustaining me. The hours and hours of unspeakable agony in a Boston hospital where only the repeated prayer of “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner” at least a thousand times got me through a night I thought I was alone but neglected to notice that God’s arms were surrounding me, holding me, and giving me strength. When you have done all you can to make sure all the bills get paid, emergency money is available for your family, the car and generator have been serviced, the payroll all counted out and put in envelopes with names and dates, well, at some point, you have to turn it all over to God—something I was refusing to do—believing that I had to take care of everything. Not only failing to trust God, but failing to trust all the family, friends, and caring others who stand ready and willing to offer any assistance required. Also failing to remember the many who have already been praying for me and will continue till I no longer need them. How could I have been so egotistical to believe that I and I alone was in charge of everything? I had already had help from too many sources to ignore, yet I did. I was worrying about my wife more than my life. Worrying that my children couldn’t get along without me, that God’s mission would simply stop if I wasn’t here to run things. Thankfully, I am no longer in the grip of “wasiwasi” (Swahili for “worry”). I am calm in the knowledge of God’s redeeming love. I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but on a trip to southern Brazil wearing my clerical collar, flying over hours of nothing but jungle and gripping the armrest with white knuckles, a Brazilian pastor asked if I was not a man of God? I assured him I was. “So,” he said, “if the plane crashes you are with God? And if it does not, you will continue to serve God? Where then is the reason for fear?” I will be flying by myself across Tanzania and across continents and oceans, but I will not be alone. God will be with me. God will always be with me and with those I love for whom I care so deeply. Guess He can handle anything that comes up. It is thousands of miles that I travel but just a small step into His arms. It is so for each of us. “Where then is the reason for fear?” Since there is no such thing as too many prayers, my journey begins Thursday, September 17th and continues till I am back in Bunda on October 3rd.