We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Porridge in the Fuel Tank

Our car has a problem. Yesterday it stopped going. We were on our way for an afternoon with friends and stopped to pick something up in town and that was as far as the car would go. It hasn't started since. We had to call our excellent AA service (Andy and Angela) who came to the rescue! Andy was actually with us in the car at the time, and Angela arrived at the scene with their vehicle and after several attempts to get the car going, in the end they towed us back home. We were all most relieved to arrive after dodging busy traffic through town and navigating bumps and potholes without much brake power. Andy thinks that the problem is with the fuel cut-off switch meaning the car isn't getting any fuel.

So this morning at breakfast Amisadai asked Louisa if she had been putting her porridge in the fuel tank - Louisa isn't a great fan of porridge. That would explain why it wasn't running. Louisa denies the charge but the joke stems from a chapter in the excellent book "Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing" by Sally Lloyd-Jones, a book we have just finished reading each day ... with our morning porridge.

"What if you put porridge in a car's tank? No! Bad idea! How about tomato soup then? Stop! The car won't run properly - actually it won't run AT ALL!" And it goes on to liken this situation to what happens to us if we put anything in the centre of our lives except God. We won't work as we were made to work. It's a good reminder. "We are built for love and joy, not for sin and tears. The Bible says only God understands the human heart and how it works best - after all, he made it. And the one who made your heart can also mend it."

This reflection comes from CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity" who says that out of "hopeless attempts [to find happiness outside and apart from God] has come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." But God has designed and made us, like a human invents and makes an engine. An engine is made to run on fuel and God has designed us to run on Himself. "He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn or the food our spirits were designed to feed on." Lewis goes on to talk about how so much energy has been spent building up, making great things, but ultimately selfishness and cruelty creeps up and as Lewis says, the "machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice."

So much to learn from a car that won't start ... and won't run on porridge. Are we trying to run on empty? Are we filling up with porridge and not working properly? Is our heart broken? The maker can mend it and make us run.

We need to take our vehicle to get fixed, so that it gets properly fed with fuel and will run again. But that will be tomorrow. So in the meantime, this morning we all rode to the church meeting on our bikes ... and Tim's tire was flat!

And on another note ... Please pray for Iringa town. This morning as we rode towards town, we were shocked and concerned to hear the sound of guns and blasts. There was rioting over new government tax laws which is threatening to close down small shop owners. The protesters were firing guns and burning tires and police were retaliating with tear gas bombs. There was a lot of destruction with fires and smashing of windows and cars. We were a small Church gathering as those on the other side of town wisely turned back. We don't know much more than that at the moment, but it seems the rioting stayed in the area of the small shops threatened. But please pray for the restoration of peace in this usually calm and peaceful town.

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