We are finishing up 90 days in Tanzania. Honestly, I am totally exhausted. For the most part I have really enjoyed this time, but the last week has been very hard. I have begun to sense a tension—a tension that I think has been there under the surface the whole time, and is just now starting to come out.
I am realizing that I have been guilty of working in my own strength. I am beginning to understand the culture and the language. I have started to assume: “OK, I can do this. I’ve got this.”
But the truth is I can’t. And even if I could, I shouldn’t do it in my own strength. I shouldn’t trust in the arm of the flesh. How could I be what this community needs?
I am guilty of not asking the Lord for His help consistently. I have been trusting the strength of my own flesh, and now, after 90 days, I sense my strength failing me. And it doesn’t feel so good. Not at all.
Not just disappointment in my own inability—for really I already knew about that. More like nausea over the vanity of this world. (I also have a mild case of amebic dysentery, so I am also literally nauseated this morning, which isn’t helping.)
I’ll admit, it’s hard being here. It is kind of like being in exile. A preacher whom I admire, Rico Tice, lists the good things in life—the things that we often turn into idols. He lists: family, friends, food, fitness, fun, etc. Another illustration I like to use with my students, called the Four Levels of Happiness, names: sex, success, and service. All of these are good things—blessings the Lord has given us. And in all of these areas, I make significant sacrifices in being here—I see them much more clearly now than I did beforehand. I never really realized this til today—not in this way. Being in exile is hard.
About the only thing I get more of here is time. And that is a blessing. Time is the one thing I crave more of in America. But isn’t it telling (and for me disturbing), that I even think about what “I get?” Life really isn’t about “getting.” But that’s easier to say when you are getting. When you’re not getting—when you are in exile—you miss it.
This realization doesn’t feel good, but I suspect it is good for me.
What I am hearing from the Lord is, “I am enough for you. Listen to David.”
Psalm 42 and 43 help. Some.