It’s late Thursday night and I’m wide awake. Actually, it’s so late Thursday night that technically it’s Friday morning, and here I am writing this post. I’m officially in preparation mode with our travels soon approaching in three days.
If you’ve ever travelled internationally, you understand my current position. There is just so much for which to prepare. Ladies, there’s always the internal struggle we have where we must restrain ourselves from bringing our entire closet along with our shoe gallery. There is the gathering of any and all medications that you think you might possibly need because if you forget one, that’s surely the one you will need on the trip. Then, there is making copies, copies, and more copies of the passport with the embarrassing passport picture that I’m stuck with until 2022. That’s a long time.
But all of that pales in comparison to the greatest struggle I’ve faced in this state of preparation. Because when it comes down to it, I’ll have enough clothes and shoes to get me through each of the seventeen days we will be gone. I have all of the medicine and shots that I could ever need. My printer is practically running out of ink due to all of the copies I’ve made of travel documents, itineraries and all of the like. The real struggle has had nothing to do with packing at all, actually.
My greatest struggle has come in the form of a question: What will I do while I’m there? Because here’s the thing - You don’t work and fundraise for thousands of dollars to go somewhere and not make a difference. You don’t get vaccinated and take medication to travel and not accomplish anything. You don’t fly thousands of miles from home, experience a new country, and not positively affect the people you encounter. We’ve put in too much work, we’ve invested so much of ourselves, we’ve included so many people. So the question resounding in my mind is what will I do while I’m there?!
Alicia and I will be used in a lot of the music sessions there (surprising, I know). What will we do in these praise and worship times? How will we help lead people to encounter God through song and worship? What will this look like? We have also been asked to speak in several venues while we are there. What will I say? Do I have what it takes to speak a life-changing word to these people? How will they receive us and how will they respond?
Now maybe you can see why I’m still awake early this morning. But there comes a time when you realize it’s time to stop repeatedly asking yourself these questions (that you can’t really answer, anyway) and instead ask God. This is the point I reached this morning. I summed it all up in the one question, “God, what am I going to do while I’m there?” It was only when I finally broke down and asked God that my answer came.
It’s not about what I am going to do while I’m there.
In fact, it’s never actually been about me this entire time. I’ve been led to take this journey across the world because of what Jesus wants to do in the lives of the Tanzanian people whom He loves so much. Jesus has the plans, I’m simply a tool He is using to make it happen. Why me? Not because I’m some great singer; not because I’m some world renowned speaker; definitely not because of my passport picture (ha!). Simply because I’m willing to be used as His instrument.
When I realized that I was going there to accomplish Jesus’ agenda and not my own, I kind of got really excited. You see, if I were taking this trip based on my own strength and power, we wouldn’t get very far. I’m afraid the music would be boring at best, the alters would be empty, and lives would remain unchanged. But when we take this trip based on Jesus’ strength and power, it’s a real game-changer.
What are you going to do there, Jesus?
The possibilities are endless. In my mind, I can see powerful praise and worship services, far greater than any I’ve encountered in 22 years. I can see alters being filled with many giving their lives to Christ. I can see lives so dramatically changed that they declare, “I won’t go back, I can’t go back, to the way it used to be before He came and changed me.” I can see broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken minds being completely healed and restored. I can see fresh purpose and empowerment coming into their lives. I can hear the encouragement from heaven to the people of Tanzania to continue running the race set before them. I can hear cheering from the stands of the “cloud of witnesses”; the ones who have gone before them and eagerly await them at the finish line.
So this morning, three days out from when this adventure officially begins, I lay down my own ideas and plans. I take my focus off of what I want to do in Africa and fix my eyes on Jesus. It’s not about what I want to see done while I’m there; it’s about the plans and purposes He desires to fulfill in the lives of each person there. It’s about the plans and purposes He desires to fulfill in the lives of you and I, too. I dare you to take on this day looking through the lens of “what are you wanting to do here, Jesus?” You may just be pleasantly surprised at what He has in store for you and realize that it’s far greater than anything you could have ever dreamed or planned for yourself.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21