Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Letter Tanzania: On Not Knowing Anything

Dear Tanzania,
I am headed in your direction in less than two weeks, and I feel like I just want to write you ahead of time and set the record straight about something. I have no idea what I am doing.

Whew. I am so glad I can just say that. Because, you see, all these people keep asking me why. Why are you going to Africa again? What are you going to be doing there? And I feel this compulsion to have something good to say. A professional sounding answer that is certain and sure.

I talk about water wells and chapels and young priests with lots of new converts who need help. And I do hope to find out more about all those things. But I have no plans for you, Tanzania. You have been you for a very long time and I have had nothing to do with it. I hardly have the right to make a plan before I ever set foot on your soil, listen to your people, learn your ways and your wants and your hopes and your dreams.

And even then, it may turn out that I have nothing to do with it. And I am good with that.

So why I am coming? I am coming in obedience to the Spirit of the Holy One, who built a dream of you in my heart long ago, wove a contact, opened a window, blew through it and said, "Go."

I am coming because I need this time to drink in something new. Step away from my all my knowing and walk in knowing nothing for a while. Hold the hand of my beloved, cling to him, and be good with having nothing to offer.

You see, Tanzania, I think the Lord is sending me to you for something. I know He wants me to open my eyes to His glory that shines is in you, to the myriad ways He has been at work at you, to all you will have to teach me and show me about who He is.

I pray He has a little role for me to play in your story. I hope there are faces and places for me to love and feel forever linked with there in your wide open plains.

And yes, there is a little part of me that dreams of a community of faces having fresh water again and a zealous young missionary priest stepping into a newly constructed chapel for the first time.

But I have no guarantees. And I am coming anyway. And I don't want to have an answer yet.

Because God is teaching me something and using you to do it, dear Tanzania. You see, I fear not knowing. I fear feeling like God is calling me to something and then finding out that, well, no, not so much. I fear that maybe He is calling me and what He is calling me to is having no answers, no way to help, to just sit in the hard place.

I like being capable, having visions, seeing solutions, knowing who to plug in where to get things done. I like knowing. And I fear not knowing.

But you, Tanzania, you are worth stepping into my fear for. I have waited long for you and I will not mess this up with my presumption, my need to have a good answer, to appear professionally competent.

I'm coming on a dream and wind of the Spirit, Tanzania. You will be part of my story. Perhaps I will be a tiny dot in yours. Only our God knows. And I am good with that.

And I'm trusting you Tanzania. Because every time I step on a plane with my whole family, I am comforted by the thought that if we all go now, at least we were all together and we were going somewhere. But when I have to do that same thing without my children? Gripped. By. Fear. Anxiety. Barely breathing in the take off moments. Wondering what on earth I was thinking.

But I am going to fight through Tanzania, because God said go. And you. You are going to make it worth it, right? I know you are.

Linking up at The Grove at Velvet Ashes today.
Join us as we talk about fear.

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