With those six simple words in Acts 28, Luke sums up years of turmoil and waiting for a promise of God. Paul had waited almost half the book of Acts to testify in Rome, just as the Lord promised. Of course, it was not nearly as easy as Paul would have liked. He endured stonings, imprisonment, fall outs and disagreements with friends, and even a shipwreck. It was a seemingly impossible promise.
And although my story does not include a shipwreck, I can most certainly relate to Paul and his years of waiting for the impossible dream. Mine started on a dark, early morning in Malaysia, when the Lord woke me up and started talking about England seemingly out of nowhere. I fought Him. Hard. This is embarrassing to admit…but it took me over a year to finally give in to His constant call and urging to go to the UK. He had to send strangers to tell me about it, and dreams, and prophetic words I did not want to receive, and endless answers to my super specific requests for signs. When I finally did give my yes, I told Him He had 3 months, then I was heading back to Eastern Africa, that was it. But when I flew out of England after that short window of time I’d given, everything had changed. I’d fallen in love with this nation, with the culture, with the people, what God was doing there, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it all. I remember flying out and saying to Jesus, ‘Ok. You were right, I was wrong. Whoops! But I’m in now, so let’s do this.’ I assumed that that would mean an easy peezy visa and a swift move to London. After all, this was the Lord, the Creator of the Universe’s will for my life!
But, like Paul, it did not go according to plan. At least not according to my plan. Things kept falling apart in weird ways. There was a typo on my visa one year; another year, a slow receptionist lost me a possible job role. Twice, I was promised visas that fell through. Again and again, things fell apart. I tried to take this all as a sign that I should give up and try to live a normal life or find a new calling. But again and again, the Lord wouldn’t let me.
But then, things started to fall together in weird ways. One chance meeting lead to a shorter visa and a home and family I love, and that in turn lead to an opportunity for a much longer visa. It still meant months of waiting and the unknown- would the British government finally say yes? Did I dot every i and cross every t perfectly this time? Would I be left heartbroken again?
And then, just like that, He did what He said He would do. With one short, automated email from the UK government, I was in. My visa was successful. And 8 years of waiting and longing for this God-given promise and dream were fulfilled.
And so I came to Rome. Six very simple words that hold so much in them. They hold years of waiting and wrestling, but much more importantly, they hold fulfillment and faithfulness.