Treat or Trick?

17 Jan

Early last year, after a series of curious events, I decided that in 2011 I was going to take a trip to Uganda, Africa.  I pledged to the Lord, and to my family, that in 2011 I was going, even if I had to make the trip alone.  Crazy, right?  (Remind me to tell you about that summer during  my college years when I went to Alaska alone, ostensibly to work on a fishing boat and earn lots of moolah, only I ended up not working on the boat and instead lodging in a halfway house.  But I digress…).

My plan was that in December 2010, I would plot out my vacation/travel schedule for 2011, and finalize the plans for my trip to Africa.  By November, however, I had three far-flung weddings on my calendar for 2011–Dominican Republic, Vegas, and the wedding in which I would be a bridesmaid here in New York.  It was after I was invited to be a bridesmaid for my friend that I said to the Lord, “Africa might have to wait for 2012, huh?” 

Two to three days after saying this to the Lord, I was at dinner with a friend involved in short-term missions.  Over dinner she rattled off a list of trips that the missions ministry at my church would be taking in 2011.  In the midst of all the usual places she threw in a couple of new spots including, you guessed it, Uganda.  I was in shock.  Who goes to Uganda?  “Why are they going?  How did this happen?  I’ve got to go with them!”, I told her.  Within 3 weeks, through another series of Divine coincidences, I was interviewed to be a part of the team going to Uganda.  At the beginning of January I found out that I was accepted to be on the Uganda team.  Hooray!!  Still Single is going to Africa in 2011!

Now it is important to know about Still Single at this point that she does not possess the usual missions-type personality.  She is more of the American-tourist type.  Give her a 4 or 5 star hotel, ample, clean, English-speaking, dining accommodations and she is a happy visitor.  Still Single likes hotel/spas, turn-down service, fresh flowers on the credenza, and like that.

Fast forward to my first missions meeting.  In addition to the spiritual components of missions work, the Missions Pastor reviewed, what I would call, missionary protocol.  He discussed cultural differences, relational improprieties, food and lodging in the field.  He described the insects we would likely encounter in our rooms, the pests that might be found in our rooms that could be as large as one’s head, the necessity of bagging our clothes and luggage at all times while in the field, and segregating and immediately washing and spraying everything upon our return to the States.  He mentioned that we should only drink bottled water, and only eat food approved by those in charge of approving the food.

As I listened, I naturally pondered why on earth I was going on this trip.  And I began to chuckle at the hilarity of God.  He tricked me!  Many, many times my missionary friends have asked me when I would take a missions trip.  Many, many times I have answered, “Never.  Missions work is not for me.”  But there I was.  I had walked into the missions meeting delighted, eager, and compelled by the Holy Spirit to head to one of the hardest locations where one could ever hope to minister.  If God had said, “Still Single I want you to go to Africa on a missions trip,” I would have resisted hard.  I know this about myself.  In fact, I do not think I would have recognized or acknowledged even the possibility that God might say such a thing to me, as, clearly, I am not the missionary type.  But being God, and knowing my frame, instead of commanding that I take a missions trip, He drew me mysteriously towards a country that I knew nothing about, made me yearn and long to go to that country, and then provided the means for my travel.  Then, only when He’d fully secured my commitment, did He, incidentally, inform me of all the challenges and hardships that the trip would entail. 

Only God could make you want something, that He wants for you, that He knows you would not want if you really knew what was involved. 

Which reminds me of marriage.

At some point, God begins to stir our hearts with longing to go to this new relational place, a place we don’t know and have never been and which may or may not be hospitable to us.  We long to go into a marriage.  And then God (hopefully) leads us towards this place, and provides the means (i.e., the other person) for us to actually marry.  But only after we are there in the engagement or marriage, only after we have crossed the threshold of commitment, does God reveal the challenges and hardships that we will encounter in this new place.  And so it is with parenting, ministry, work, and every big step we take in life in general. 

So I am walking by faith.  And packing light.

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3 Responses to “Treat or Trick?”

  1. Kristi January 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    A friend directed me to your blog–love, love, love your insights into life and the single life!

    Missions trips are hard, but from my experience, they’re also life-changing. The Lord will stretch you and use you in ways you could have never imagined. It’s a leap of faith, for sure!

    On a side note, the DR and Vegas for weddings? Could there be two more different places?!

  2. kktoday January 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I think it’s so wonderful that you’re going to Uganda! And I appreciated the way He got you on that trip, too. Ha! So funny. I love that the God we serve works to change our desires to be His desires! 🙂

    I’m hoping to go on a ‘missions trip’ in 2012. I’d love to go this year, but I’ve already committed to a trip to see friends in Ireland and don’t know that I’ll be able to work something else in to 2011. We’ll see. 🙂

  3. Joshua wekesa November 28, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    I am pastor Joshua from Kenya. In my church we shall have a conference next year. So i welcome you to teach.

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