Cool air blew through the open walls of the simple room in which a Tanzanian church service was being held. We sat and listened to the speaker as he taught in Swahili, and through the help of our friend who interpreted for us, we caught the gist of his message that day.
The speaker talked about the goodness of God and of all the blessings he has given us. Then he talked about what happens when we hold on to these blessings with our fingers clenched shut into fists. When God blesses us we can choose to bless others in turn, or we can hoard his blessings in our tightly closed hands. When we choose to open our hands and let God’s blessings flow through them, we open ourselves to receive additional blessings, but when we decide to close our hands and amass his blessings, our hands are no longer open to receiving more.
For us, this hit home. We’re blessed with a beautiful town to live in, a wonderful church family to enjoy life with, healthy bodies, wonderful friends, beloved families, jobs that we appreciate, and on and on. When we decide to follow God we are faced with the reality of committing these things to him even if that means letting go, but we know that he has more blessings in store. As we prepare for the future, we are certain that difficult times will await, like learning a new language, suffering the effects of tropical diseases, and enduring the growing pains of making a new culture our own and at the same time missing our families, friends and culture back home. Yes, many difficult times are ahead for our family but we know that God does have blessings waiting for us too. We take encouragement from Paul:
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained or am perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:10-14)
Blessings and prizes, the goodness of God: so we press on and look ahead to eternity when we will stand before the Savior in Glory and cast our crowns down before him. John describes the scene:
“the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things.” (Rev. 4:10,11)
Certainly we are eagerly waiting for the day when we’ll meet the One who gave up so much to give us life. Jesus spoke of himself in contrast to all others when he said,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
When we commit to walking this narrow road, though there may be many difficulties upon it, we know that it leads to life. Thanks to those of you who have chosen to walk this road along with us. We echo Paul in his message to the Philippians when he said,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:3-6)