We are at the Hilton in Addis Ababa enjoying full access to high speed Internet for the first time since arriving at Bole International Airport. What a privilege...and what a reminder that we take too many things for granted.
Talking about taking things for granted...the Lord has been teaching us many lesson with regard to His sovereignty of late. Today we read two passages of Scripture that reminded us that God rules over all things...not just the good things. The first was the story about Samson and his first, apparently disastrous, relationship. Baffled by his request for a Philistine wife, his parents ask why he couldn't take a wife from his own people. But, the next verse tells us, they did not not understand that this was from the Lord so that Samson might begin to take action against the overlords and oppressors of Israel. Ultimately, his taste for foreign women would lead to the destruction of the lords of the Philistines in their own temple and the deliverance of Israel.
But those who experienced these things at the time did not know the end of the story as we do and therefore might not have seen the hand of the Lord at work...just as we do not always see the hand of the Lord at work as we wade through the sometimes odd circumstances that cause delays and distractions and detours in our lives.
The second reading was from the Gospel of Luke and focused in on the betrayal of Judas and the preparation for what we now call the Last Supper. In spite of our Lord knowing what awaited Him at the end of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that final Passover Meal...knowing that it was a friend who would be the instrument by which the seemingly catastrophic event of the cross would be set in motion...knowing that His disciples would desert Him...knowing that His own would reject Him and abuse Him and kill Him...He continued to focus in on what He knew the Father wanted Him to do in the present. I can only imagine what was going through His mind as He instituted the Eucharist. We take those words for granted, don't we? This is My Body...My Blood...given for you...
Now, the good news is that in spite of gloomy predictions, I have been granted my work permit and should have it in hand by tomorrow. This means that we can apply for residency on Thursday! However, once again we have learned not to take things for granted. This is a gift from our Lord Who sovereignly holds the hearts of human beings in His hand, turning them whichever way He wills. All things, we are told, work together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose. His purpose. That is the ultimate reason for all things in our lives, is it not?
So this morning, we prayed that we would not forget to learn the lessons we need to learn here in Addis...in the present...even though our hearts yearn to be with our brethren in Gambela. The Lord knows our needs even before we bring them before Him...that is what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of Matthew. Either this is true or it is not. Either He is sovereign or He is not. Either He is working out His purpose or He is not. We cannot have it both ways.
So, we submit ourselves to whatever it is He wills. Ultimately, He will do what is best for the kingdom and, subsequently, what is best for us and for those around us...that, we simply cannot take for granted...