Why I Didn’t End Up Going To Nepal
Well, the simple reason was this. I got shingles during the week, and with a little bit of misgiving turned up at the airport with Peter on the Thursday night, still intending to go. However, at the counter we had all of our plans rudely interrupted with the desk official informing me that since my passport was three weeks short of the six months required before it expired, we were not allowed to travel. So we did a mad scramble to look at getting a new passport issued and new flights arranged as soon as possible, and made plans to try again on the Saturday night. However, on the way home in the car from the airport, I was becoming increasingly aware of the discomfort my shingles was causing me, and this continued overnight. In view of the fact that we would be travelling 15 hours in a plane, followed by 15 hours in a car on very hot and rough roads, I realised that this was probably the worst possible conditions to be travelling with shingles, so I made the call on Friday morning that it would be wiser to cancel the trip for now.
So, that was the simple reason. But what was the real reason? Was God intervening and preventing us from going? Many commented that God must have a purpose behind it all and that in spite of our disappointment, we could trust him. We were informed after the event of two people who had dreams of disasters befalling us while we were over there, and who were very relieved that the trip had been called off. As far as we know however, there have been no significant plane crashes at Kathmandu airport. Maybe there was an accident waiting for us over there on the roads- but in any case, could not God have intervened and saved us from such circumstances anyway?
Alternatively, another way of reading these circumstances could be to say that this was Satan interrupting our plans to prevent us from going to be a blessing over there. Perhaps our failure to proceed was a failure of faith to continue in spite of the threatening circumstances.
When we review our lives from a heavenly perspective in the eternal world to come, what will we see was the truth? I have been thinking afresh over the truth of God’s providence in our world in recent times, and these incidents provide an interesting case study in thinking about it as I process the disappointment of not going. Disappointment, failure and setbacks in ministry are regular features of a life of faith and so it is wise to have some strong foundations to fall back onto when they arrive on your doorstep.
I’m not sure that I’m much closer to gaining significant insight into this very profound mystery of how God’s will is worked out in the world, but I am reminded afresh of several key principles which are true.
God is sovereign. At the end of the day, I can trust God because God is king in our universe. He has already defeated Satan, and one day, his victory will be public and final. Nothing happens that escapes his notice, and all that does happen has been allowed by him to proceed. So we can trust God with the events of our life.
Our actions matter. God has created other agents who make real decisions- like angels, animals, and us. We don’t get everything that we decide on, but we are given influence by our decisions in history. Satan has a level of authority in this world. Therefore we know that we are involved in a spiritual battle, in which Satan is out to disrupt the work of God and we are responsible in how we respond.
We don’t usually find out why things happen. We are like Job who never got to find out during his life on earth about the reason for the terrible afflictions being unleashed on him by Satan. Instead he learned to grow in his trust in the greatness and goodness of God, in spite of the puzzling circumstances of his life. We just need to respond to the circumstances before us as best we can, seeking to hear God’s voice, follow his direction, and trust him with the outcome before us.
God’s work doesn’t depend on us. God is building his kingdom and working out his plan. We have the privilege of being involved in his work, but it doesn’t depend on us. God will achieve his plan in his time, and so when things don’t go as we expect them to, we can look at the bigger picture and remember that God is on his throne.
We may never find out all the details on exactly why God allowed our trip to be postponed for now. However, we keep our eyes on him and trust him in the present moment, obeying what God puts before us to do next, and push in to learn more of his greatness and his goodness in who He is.