It is with a bit of fear and trembling I approach the topic of preparation. And you know what, that is OK. This is holy ground we are on.
Living in an era of tips and hints, I don’t want to reduce this to a list that removes the mystery and wonder of the ways God works. Yet saying, “Good luck, you’re on your own!” doesn’t honor the ways in which we can take steps to be prepared for the field.
As I picture you in my mind, whether preparing to move overseas for the first time, or preparing for a new assignment, or preparing for a change in your family dynamics, or preparing to return to the field after a time of sabbatical, I see you surrounded by boxes, and lists, and hopes and dreams. It is probably an exciting time, but also an exhausting one. Yes?
I want to remind you, you are not alone. Others have been prepared by the One who called them for a task or to a place and you will be too. As I recalled the great cloud of witnesses we have, I marveled in the variety of means God used to prepare them.
- With Mary, He sent an angel to talk with her in person–she had someone physically show up, sit down and talk with her, answer questions, and reassure her.
- With Daniel, He used formal education and relationships.
- Esther was prepared through physical attributes and relationships with her uncle and Hegai.
- Paul was prepared through the family and connections he was born into, the training he received, the positions he held, and then through a time of obscurity.
- With Joseph, the son of Jacob, God prepared him through dreams, family betrayal, being lied about, imprisoned for years, forgotten, and an ability to hear from God about dreams.
- David was prepared through mundane, ordinary tasks (tending and protecting sheep), obscurity, time alone, and musical training.
- Moses was prepared by being given up at birth, being bilingual and bicultural, having a speech impediment, and through connections.
- And with Joseph (betrothed to Mary), he was prepared through his strong character and a clear dream.
This is a brief list of eight people, can you imagine how long the list would be if we went chapter by chapter through the Bible and spent time studying the ways in which God prepared people? Four things stand out to me:
- He prepares each of us in unique ways.
- God often uses multiple streams of preparation.
- Some of the preparation only makes sense looking back; some — like the training and education–made sense beforehand.
- And not all of the preparation will be, shall we say, fun or positive.
As you get ready to go to the field, may you hear God whisper over and over to your soul, “Fear not, for I have called you. I’ll go before you, beside you, and behind you.” Right now as you prepare for some of the knowns like the weather, the food, what clothes you need to pack, schooling and all of the materials needed, learning about the spiritual climate where you will go … know yourself. If you tend to obsess about knowing more details, let us know in the comments (specifics aren’t needed) and we will leave comments letting you know we’re praying for you. And if you have the kind of personality that might need to focus a bit more on the details, leave us that kind of comment and we will pray for you too.
It’s not only the known you’ve been prepared for, you have also been prepared by The Sovereign One for journeys you didn’t know are before you. Trust that God knows where you are going and what you need and will meet you at the time.
Some things will be trivial delights. I never understood why I didn’t like big hunks of meat and cutting them with knives. This seemed out of place growing up in the US. But in China, this part of me made sense! And my lack of love for cheese. Oh the glories of never needing to special order food!
Others more serious. I don’t know what you will face. But I know the One who knows and he leaves us with two promises: he will not abandon us and he will provide us others to help bear the burdens.
What are some of the practical ways you are preparing? As you look back, how have you seen God prepare you for other parts of your life?
Come share with us on the prompt “Prepare.”
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