A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
This may seem like an appropriate Scripture to describe much of this past year. It is certainly a comfort to know that the Lord is before us and behind us and by our side to direct our steps. He directs them in such a way to serve His ultimate purpose of bringing us to be with Him forever to gather around His throne in worship for eternity.
It is not always for us to understand or explain why things don't go the way we have planned. This is true in so many areas of life. When earthly explanations fail to materialize, this is when our Savior's faithfulness is such a comfort! Faith provides us the strength and resolve to say and believe what our loving Lord has promised and made clear...
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8–9
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love... Colossians 1:13
These last couple of weeks have proven to be a challenge for me as I have struggled with the debate in my own mind about the Lord's wisdom versus my plans. As my sinful flesh rears its ugly opinions and doubts, I have questioned God's ways and wisdom in allowing me to travel to Nepal only to have most of my scheduled activities and plans canceled.
I have waited more than a year to begin the work of visiting, encouraging, and assisting our fellow Christians around the world with the goal of training more faithful preachers and teachers of God's saving Word. Several weeks ago now I received notice that Nepal had begun issuing visas again. So I eagerly and immediately began to research the possibilities of travel to Nepal again. It didn't take long before I was convinced that this was looking very possible. I sent off my application to the Nepali embassy in Washington, DC thinking that this was the first step and if not approved, then I would know that a visit to Nepal just wasn't yet meant to be. The application was sent with prayers for the Lord's blessings that if it was His will for me to visit Nepal, then the visa would be granted. About three and half weeks later I received a package from the Nepali embassy in the mail. I didn't even wait to bring it into the house before tearing the package open to flip through my passport to see if indeed the Lord had answered my prayer in the affirmative. And sure enough, there it was, a thirty-day visa to be used within the next ninety days. I was excited and relieved that some of the crazy and frustration brought on by the pandemic was finally starting to diminish and maybe this would be the beginning of several more trips overseas soon.
I purchased airfare that I had been pricing the past few weeks that very same day and began the two-week countdown to departure. The only hurdle that still remained was a negative Covid test within seventy-two hours of departure. My flight was scheduled to leave on a Sunday evening so I scheduled the Covid test for Friday morning. Here was another chance, I thought, for the Lord to bring my plans to a screeching halt if He didn't want me to go. But later that day, the results came back negative and it looked like I was ready to roll. Now, all I had to do was get through the next couple of days, spend 40+ hours in travel and layovers, and then a five-day quarantine once I arrived in Nepal.
Raju had a busy schedule all laid out for us that would include pastoral training seminars in four districts of the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN) along with a long-postponed graduation/ordination service for the graduates of Himalayan Bible Institute (HBI) who had successfully completed their three years of training.
Everything seemed to start out so well as I was allowed to leave the Kathmandu (KTM) valley a couple of days early to finish my quarantine in a less populated area. This allowed us to make our way west to the city of Pokhara where we were treated to some incredible early morning views of the Annapurna range of the Himalaya. Stunning doesn't even begin to capture the majesty of God's glory in the most prominent peak of this range called Machhapuchhre or Mt. Fishtale. As the early morning sun begins to rise and shine on the western slopes of this majestic mountain peak I can't, at the moment, think of a more beautiful place on this planet.
|Machhapuchhre (English: Mt. Fishtale)|
|Annapurna Range of the Himalaya from Pokhara|
|Early morning view from the hotel balcony as I reviewed/revised my teaching notes for the day.|
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10–11
|2nd Graduating Class of the Himalayan Bible Institute of the HCLC-Nepal|
|Graduates, Pastors, and Visitors at the Pastoral Training Seminar|
Everything else we had planned was canceled due to the government-issued lockdown orders. And with that, my work in Nepal was finished. I had traveled half the way around the world, spent five days in quarantine, traveled several hours by car through the winding, bumpy, dusty, traffic-filled, traffic-jammed roads through the Himalayan foothills to teach for two hours and assist in handing out graduation/ordination certificates. Not exactly what I had in mind!
|Raju...in what will eventually be the HBI main classroom|
...I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5–6
God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!
Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?
Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!
Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.
There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!
© 1991 Robert E. Voelker
|Title:||God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It|
|German Title:||Lasst mich voll Freuden sprechen|