Sipping on Ginger Beers and Cokes, we zip through the KwaZulu-Natal province back to our Pietermaritzburg home. Tired eyelids droop, twilight sleep occasionally interrupted by vivacious laughter. Townships fly by and locals wave excitedly as our big vans speed along. We slow for the occasional wandering herd of cows who saunter across the highway. Clouds of deep blue loom in the distance, the afternoon showers not far off. Bunches of yellow wildflowers can be seen strewn across the plains, contrasted against the green grasses and grey clouds.
I love this place.
We’ve just spent two days touring battlefields where significant South African history was made, all within the last 200 years. We’ve walked amongst graves and memorials erected to remember the atrocities committed for the sake of land and money and man’s greed. We’ve heard stories of great bravery from both sides of the fight. We are in a place where political and social miracles have taken place. There is still much progress to be made, but we are guests in a country that is turning its back on the degrading, evil ways of its forefathers in the name of reconciliation and peace.
I love this place.
Nestled amongst dear friends, I reflect on all that has brought me to be in this place, processing with my computer resting on my lap.
Two and a half years ago I experienced the incredible blessing of going on a mission trip to Tanzania. The short two weeks spent there radically affected my faith and touched my heart in ways that I will never recover from.
Things I don’t want to recover from.
Horrible tribal practices that literally rape young girls of their innocence were slowly fading from the culture in a movement of God’s grace. Communities wrestled to maintain their heritage while allowing the Gospel to permeate their lives and wipe away their old flesh.
Churches danced despite hunger, children were educated despite inopportunity, and I was transformed despite my hardened heart.
The missionary who led us through our time in Mairowa was called Isack. We had many convicting discussions about purpose and passion throughout the weeks as he encouraged me to think about what God had personally equipped me to do.
Issack used gardening gloves as a metaphor to help me better understand how important purpose is. Gloves could help a gardener do a decent job at digging a hole. They might be a bit helpful in smearing paint onto a wall. But the true function of gloves is to protect the gardeners hands from blistering against harsh tool handles.
Just like these gloves, we all have a specific purpose that we are uniquely equipped to fulfill. No one else is formed like I am, and no one else has been designed like you have. I might do a decent job at the thing that you were made to do, but I will never complete it like you can with your special gifting.
In terms of discovering this purpose, Isack spoke of the prophet Nehemiah who found his purpose embedded deep within the passions God had placed in his heart.
And these were just a few of the many discussions that took place in the fields of Tanzania.
Later the same year after returning to the states, a mentor of mine spoke these wise words:
Your desire reflects your design, and your design reflects your destiny.
That phrase is liberating. That phrase is frightening. Could my destiny possibly be nestled in the grandeur of my dreams?
I returned from Tanzania intent on identifying what stirs my soul into action – what this passion and purpose could possibly be for me.
But this kind of discovery takes time and patience. I believe that passions are developed, built over time based on the triumphs and trials that touch our lives.
A lot has happen in the past two years – both seasons of immeasurable delight and trials of immense difficulty have touched my life. At some point, my heart forgot the joy, freedom, and ambition that Tanzania planted in my heart. I don’t need to know all the details of His plan right in this moment, but my heart had stopped yearning for this mystery. My eyes had ceased to wonder at what marvelous call He could place on my life.
But Jesus is not so quick to give up on me.
As I sit in this van, small lakes and clusters of trees flying past the now rain drenched windows, I am so thankful for His steadfast love and unending mercy.
I am hopeful that this country and these people will unveil more of who God made me to be.
Until that time, I know that my purpose is to be faithful.
To live in utter dependence on the one who keeps my heart beating.
To obey His commands.
To give of myself.
To love as fully and freely as I possibly can.
To seek His face above all else.
To dream bigger than I’ve ever let myself dream before.
And to let His hands mold my passion until it reveals more of my purpose.