He was going to miss coming here to this spot where he spent hours reflecting, praying and enjoying his surroundings. Hopefully, there will be places of solitude in Cotonou where he could spend time alone with God and nature. He had been a pastor since he was twenty-five and now he was fifty.
People were surprised that he wasn’t married and had children. “Are you going to be like the apostle Paul and remain single?” they asked.
“No. I will get married when I meet the woman God has chosen for me,” was his usual reply but as the years went by, he wasn’t that sure about that anymore.
There had been several wonderful women he met in and out of the church but he wasn’t romantically interested in any of them. Perhaps, he was going to remain single for the rest of his life like Paul after all. His mother wasn’t convinced, however.
“You’ll get married when meet the right woman,” she said.
“What if I’m not meant to marry?”
“Don’t be foolish, Hank. You’re not meant to spend the rest of your life like those Catholic priests. You will get married one of these days. Mark my words.”
“Sure, Mother. If you say so.”
“Where’s your faith? Don’t you think God wants you to have a wife and children?”
“What if He decides that He would rather that I be like the prophet Jeremiah? He was forbidden to marry.”
“Yes, he was but you know fully well that it was for good reason. God explained what would happen to the other families in the city of Judah where Jeremiah was. They would all die from terrible diseases. He didn’t want that for Jeremiah and his family. He wanted to spare him the pain and grief of seeing these things happen to his wife and their children. He was bringing judgment on the people. Don’t you think Jeremiah would have liked to marry and have a family?”
“Yes, I suppose he would have wanted that.”
“Don’t compare yourself to him or Paul. God has plans for you just as He did for them. Unlike Paul, Jeremiah didn’t choose to remain single. I don’t see why you should decide to be like Paul when it’s quite possible that God might bless you with a wife and children one of these days. Just be patient.”
They had that conversation a couple of years ago and now that he was moving to Cotonou, it seemed as if her hopes of him ever getting married were put on hold–at least for now. She believed that when he returned from there, he would meet a godly woman and settle down before he reached sixty.
He sat down now with his face turned towards the sun and closed his eyes. Its warmth felt really great on his face. Above him, he could hear the seagulls. “Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to pastor the church in Cotonou. I see now why it was so important that I studied French. It will be useful now. It feels strange leaving Portland where I have been all my life. Abraham must have felt the same way too but like him, I am going to step out in faith, knowing that I will not be alone but that You will be with me. I ask that You will give me the wisdom to minister to the people whose care You have entrusted me with. And I pray that if there is anyone who isn’t a member of this church and whom You will like me to reach out, that You will show me.”
He prayed for a long time and when he was finished, he felt a great peace overcome him. Smiling, he lay down on his back and stayed there for a while longer, enjoying the tranquility, the sunshine, the sounds of the seagulls and the gentle breeze.
Source: Bible Gateway