First Boat to Tarshish

It took our church van three and a half hours to traverse twenty-five miles.

I guess you could call it a road. On more than one occasion, gripping the back of the seat in front of me to keep from catapulting across the van, I wondered how the missionary driving could tell where the desert wilderness stopped and where the road began. Part of that road/desert/rocky wilderness trail went straight through the semi-dry riverbed of the Rio Grande. No bridge necessary.

The next day, I was sitting in the shade of a shack with a group of young Mexican children, reading them the story of the Resurrection–in halting Spanish. Time had stopped, and I couldn’t say if five minutes or an hour had passed since breakfast. My Spanish was terrible. But there I was, with a group of eight Spanish-speaking kids, hanging on my every word to hear the story of Christ’s death and the empty tomb.

I was paranoid. Self-conscious. Not dressed like the kids or the missionaries–not speaking the language well–not comfortable. I felt like I had thrown myself into a foreign land, at the mercy of people who could tear me to pieces if they wanted to.

“If I had known where God was going to take me, I would have been on the first boat to Tarshish,” a missionary told my theology class today. I wonder if I had known, if I would have taken a boat to Tarshish rather than embarrass myself in a stuttering attempt to read a Spanish story. Later, would I have taken a boat to Tarshish rather than teaching that first English class as a volunteer? Rather than–many young writer’s worst fear–putting my words out there for public scrutiny?

I’m glad I don’t know ahead of time what God is going ask of me. I may have missed the most amazing blessings from God if I had known to run. Thankfully, He’s given me enough sense of adventure to want to wade through the mud of the Rio Grande again. To want to figure out the complexities of the English language. To want to go to a foreign land to tell others the good news.

Whatever He’s not telling me now… I’m game. Still learning to trust Him, whether I’m in a comfortable dorm room sipping hot tea or getting my boots dusty in the Mexican desert.

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