This week I will turn 40. It’s my fifth un-shared twin birthday, and the first significant (ending in 0) one since Red Twin died. We will not turn 40 together, as we did not turn 36 together, or 37, or 38, or 39…
It brings with it an additional grief this time as well.
I turned 30 in the plane on the way to Tanzania, where we expected to serve for 10 years. My 40th birthday thus marks the beginning of our time in Tanzania coming to a close. In part, we put a 10 year time-limit on our time here because we knew we would not want to leave, even if it was the best thing for ministry or family. And we don’t want to leave. We love our life in Tanzania; we feel a measure of hard-won competence and flourishing. It will be hard to give that up, especially for life in Australia, which is increasingly foreign to us.
As I contemplate these dual griefs of my 40th birthday, I’m reminded of what Jesus told Red Twin about turning 50.
Part of Red Twin’s journey towards serving in Central Asia was a dream she had in her 20s. She had known for some time that God was calling her to something beyond her comfort zone but she was resistant. In this dream, Jesus was holding a photo album of her life, and as they thumbed through it together, she noticed that the photos were chaotic, higgledy-piggledy. However, when they got to 50, the photos were laid out neatly.
She asked Jesus, ‘What happened here?’
He replied, ‘This is when you started to trust me.’
Red Twin woke with that question from Jesus, ‘Will you trust me?’
This was the kick Red Twin needed and she started on the path to discerning how she might serve overseas. Of course, she never made it to 40, let alone 50. Jesus knew that would be too late for her to start trusting him.
Jesus’ call for her to trust him was not a promise that everything would be well, or that she would live a long life. Indeed, had Red Twin never gone to Central Asia, it’s possible she would not have died. I’m told the war in the region and the irresponsible disposable of military hardware result in higher cases of the type of cancer she had; if she’d stayed in Australia, she would not have been exposed to that. Even if she was always going to get that cancer, she could have accessed medical care earlier if she was based in Australia.
But she did not regret placing herself in Jesus’ hands. At the end of her life, her grief was not that she wished she’d stayed in safe Australia, but that she did not have longer in Central Asia where she might see the fruit of the seeds she planted.
As Arthur and I are called from our comfort zone in the coming year and as I head into my 40s, I have Jesus’ question to Red Twin ringing in my ears as well, “Will you trust me?”
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.