Today was supposed to be my first day in Japan. I was going to be spending eight weeks working through OMF with a church in Hirosaki City. I can't think of anything in my life I've been more excited by. Living in Japan has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember—from a year 9 school project where I wrote about what life would have been like if I had grown up in Japan, to starting Japanese lessons at university due to my desire to do missionary work there. Eventually life and other ministry priorities smothered that dream; but then God opened so many doors and powerfully relit the fire that had never fully stopped burning.
Now, of course, I am not going to Japan—at least not yet. I don't know when it will be possible to go either. It's fair to say I am devastated, my spirit is heavy, and my heart aches. In the past five years I've had so very many setbacks, so many doors closed, but none have hurt anywhere near as much as this. It finally felt like all those setbacks and closed doors had a purpose, had a goal—God had been saving me and my ministry to actually give me what was a hope I dared not hope and a dream I could barely put into words it seemed so fantastical.
Now I'm back in the mud and the mire.
I know that God is sovereign. I trust in what He is doing and His purpose—even as I feel crushed I submit knowing full well that whatever He is doing is ultimately good and perfect. But that doesn't make it taste any less bitter in the present. An old friend recently described me as a "tank." He meant it as a complement! He said that all the bullets and rockets of the enemy, all the landmines of life, I've faced haven't stopped me moving forward towards the goal or killed my deep-seated joy—and they won't now. That was something I sorely needed to hear.
One thing is sure—I'm not giving up on this mission; on this dream. I will go and test this calling and ministry as soon as I can, and I will put on hold everything else for as a long as I can in doing so. Even if, ultimately, long term mission work in Japan is not my God-given destiny, exploring this call—and the growth that exploration will bring to all aspects of my life—is something I am not letting go of.
But as for me, LORD,
my prayer to you is for a time of favor.
In your abundant, faithful love, God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the miry mud; don’t let me sink.
Let me be rescued from those who hate me
and from the deep water.
Don’t let the floodwaters sweep over me
or the deep swallow me up;
don’t let the Pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, LORD,
for your faithful love is good.
In keeping with your abundant compassion,
turn to me.
Don’t hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress.
Answer me quickly!
Come near to me and redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies.
But as for me—poor and in pain—
let your salvation protect me, God.
I will praise God’s name with song
and exalt him with thanksgiving.
That will please the LORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with horns and hooves.
The humble will see it and rejoice.
You who seek God, take heart!
For the LORD listens to the needy
and does not despise
his own who are prisoners.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them,
for God will save Zion
and build up[a] the cities of Judah.
They will live there and possess it.
The descendants of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will live in it.