I am in the process of booking my ticket for home assignment. Prior to this, the plan had no shape. It was simply an idea in my head. Now that I am considering actual dates, it feels like plans are solidifying; becoming more real, if you will.
This morning, as I looked at my travel itinerary and was trying to arrange payment for my ticket, I suddenly felt a little leap in my heart. I thought about the people I would see and the places I would go, and of course, the food I would eat. I counted the days: 88 to go (as of yesterday).
Usually, I don’t allow myself the luxury of thinking about people, places and food I miss because when I do, it’s torture. It doesn’t help fortify my soul, either. Rather, it has the potential of distracting me or worse, causing me to complain. So I keep bringing myself into the present and forcing myself to focus on the task at hand.
For a few minutes, while looking at my itinerary, though, it was a blessing to think of what lay ahead. It was something wonderful to look forward to. In only 88 days, I could find a respite.
You see, God gives grace for this life. It’s a difficult place to live in, Gulu is. Not everyone who has come has found it the easiest place to adjust to. But I believe that if God calls you somewhere, he will give grace for thankfulness and even joy in the midst of the difficulties.
This place has become my home. Here, I learned to live without electricity (most importantly, how to live without a refrigerator or iron), how to conserve my solar battery power, how to save, stock and carry water from the borehole, and so many other day-to-day things. These all have the potential of stealing one’s joy, of making one impatient under the hand of the sovereign God.
But now I can think that in 87 days, Lord willing, I will be in a cooler place (colder, is more like it), I will have electricity, and consistent running water, and a refrigerator (not to mention good food to put in it). Thinking about it this way doesn’t steal my joy. It actually brings a spring to my step and an eagerness to finish the work God has in store.
I’m looking forward to something. I can endure these hardships for 87 more days! I can say yes, if God asks me, while I am on home assignment, to return to Gulu. I will have been refreshed by my time at home.
That makes me think of looking for the city with sure foundations. When I think of heaven, I will be able to endure, because this is not forever. Soon enough, I will be there, where there is no more weeping, no more sorrow, no more sickness, and no more night.
God has been so gracious to let us know how it all ends (spoilers: every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord), so that we can look forward with anticipation to a joyful reunion with him and our loved ones in Christ who have gone ahead.
What rejoicing awaits those who have endured hardship for His name! What joy there will be for those who endured sorrow in this life. What comfort there will be for those who have suffered loss. What honor there will be for people who were rejected for the sake of Christ’s name. What everlasting rest there will be for those who toiled and labored for his kingdom.
Oh, heaven! It’s something that brings much more excitement to our hearts than any earthly homecoming can bring! Oh, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight!