What We've Learnt

January 30, 2011

Many people have asked what we have been learning through all of this situation with the visa. Here are a few things:

– The reality of spiritual warfare.

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual forces of darkness” Eph. 6:12 (Ephesians 6:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ; Daniel 10:12-13 )

The Bible never wavers in its confidence in the power of God, and yet it is realistic about the fact of spiritual opposition. Paul talks about how we wanted to come to see the Thessalonian church but could not – because “Satan hindered him”. Daniel is told after three weeks of prayer and fasting that God heard and was ready to answer his prayer as soon as he began praying, but that opposition from a spiritual power (“the prince of Persia”) delayed matters.

As we have faced our own struggle with the “principalities and powers”, it has been a great blessing to have people encourage us to not passively resign ourselves to the situation but remember that God’s will is that “it is not good for the man to be alone”(Gen. 2:18) and “what God has joined, man should not separate” (Mark 10:9). Thankyou for all of you (from across the world!) who have stood together with us in prayer.

– Our times are in God’s hands.

(Psalm 31:15 ; Proverbs 16:9 ; Romans 8:29 )

God’s ways are higher than our ways and we will probably never understand all the factors that were involved in the visa coming when it did. But in the small part of the picture that we have been able to see, it is obvious how God is able to work things marvellously together. For example, we received news that the visa had come through just after we had reached Bangalore, our final destination. Had we received it earlier, we would probably have immediately dropped everything to prepare for our arrival in England, and so wouldn’t have been able to do the other things we had wanted to do.

On receiving the news, Taryn’s mum first thought was that she needed to cancel her planned trip to Bombay (to spend Christmas with a friend) so that she could be around to make sure everything was in place for Taryn’s departure. Moments later, her friend called to say that the planned trip to Bombay wouldn’t be possible as her leave had been cancelled! My first thought was about how we would manage our accommodation in Cambridge – we have been very generously promised a room in a two-bedroom flat owned by John and Inge Ruddock, but due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances they had been sharing it with their daughter Christina for the whole time that I had been in England without Taryn. So I rang John and Inge from India, not at all sure how the situation might work – only to be told that, after a year of job-seeking without any luck, Christina had found employment in Oxford.

And so we had a room! Even the fact that I was forced by the Indian visa regulations to remain in Cambridge, when my natural inclination was to simply drop everything and fly to see Taryn, seems in retrospect to bear the marks of divine fingerprints, seeing the way that the first chapter of my work in England was framed by the 24-7 Prayer conference in Edinburgh at the beginning, and the week of non-stop Cambridge Prayer at the very end.

- The Bridegroom longs for His Bride to be with Him

“Arise and come, my beloved; my beautiful one, come with me” Song 2:10 (Song of Songs 2; Song of Songs 8:6 ; Exodus 5:1 ; Hosea 3:1 ; Mark 9:42 )

In the days of Israel’s prophets, God would sometimes speak to His people not just by giving the prophet a message to speak, but by calling the prophet into a particular situation which spoke symbolically and dramatically of the state of affairs between God and His people – for example, Hosea was called to go on loving his adulterous wife “even as the LORD loves the children of Israel”. In waiting and praying for Taryn’s visa to be granted, while at the same time trying to mobilise prayer in Cambridge, I have felt like there is something of that in our situation. (Though fortunately, whatever pain we have suffered hardly begins to compare to that which Hosea must have endured).

Just as I have been longing for my bride to be allowed to come and join me in Cambridge, so the desire of Jesus is for His Bride to be with Him (Isaiah 62:5); just as I have been frustrated with the sloth of immigration bureaucracy, so Jesus is furious with those who prevent His people coming to Him (Mark 9:42); just as after much waiting Taryn’s visa has finally been granted and we are able to at last begin married life together, so there will come that Day when the trumpet sounds “and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).