Yesterday I came across Lisa Nichols’ post in my Facebook feed with the words “You’ve got to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.” It reminded me of a recent radio talk show where I had gone for our weekly oral health program. I am a dental officer and I have participated in Project Yesu’s annual dental clinics here in Uganda since July 2016.
So while we were receiving questions from callers, one lady was wondering where and how she can access our dental services during this coronavirus crisis. Hope Smiles Uganda runs mobile dental clinics in preciously unreached areas, but due to Covid-19, we had to put a halt to our operations. We have only managed to keep our dental center in Jinja town open to receive emergencies (only those in pain).
People in hard to reach areas are totally cut off from essential services that are only offered in town centers. A 7 months pregnant woman rode a bicycle from a village 30 kilometers away to our clinic in late March. She received treatment and went back home happy, and successfully beating curfew time.
Now when I saw Lisa’s post yesterday, I started rethinking the importance of being prepared, ready and utilizing every opportunity that comes your way. My job is tough because it involves changing mindsets. Our goal is not to just extract painful teeth, but to restore those that can be saved as well as providing periodontal therapy by cleaning.
People like the lady who called on the radio do not always show up at our free clinics when we invite them because they may not be in pain at that time. They’re distracted by their other needs and so they come only when they want. But now that we’re unable to run the clinics, demand is high and no one can save them. I have received a big number of calls from others asking about when we’re going back. I keep telling them I don’t know and encouraging them to be patient. They say patience pays, but pains. But I don’t know how long patience and pain can coexist! Uganda today has 88 coronavirus cases and lockdown ends on Tuesday.
Many people have been caught unprepared financially. Others have not utilized opportunities that God presented to them in one way or the other. Some people might have had compelling visions, but chose to postpone them for fear of uncertainty. Now uncertainty has come and they regret why they didn’t invest, or venture into what now seems like it would save them. We cannot know what the future holds, but all we know is that God has plans for us. And since we depend on him in every aspect, we should recognize every moment as a DEVINE opportunity.
We should be ready to receive as much as we should be ready to lose. God gives us what we’re lacking and takes away what we don’t need. He can also take away in order to add something. He prunes us and indeed he has done it during this period. He takes away pride to add humility. Our role is to respond to Him as a car responds to the one who is driving it. It can’t move without the driver, lest it crushes. I saw a truck run into a building after its handbrake got disengaged. The driver had gone to a nearby shop to get a refreshment.
The nature of life here in developing countries is in such a way that you are very unlikely to be prepared most of the time. To a bigger extent, there’s less intervention from the government in as far as sensitization and guiding or offering support to citizens is concerned. Fewer people are educated and updated with global affairs. A weak economy cannot allow the majority of the people to save anything for their families. Poor service delivery and infrastructure, rampant corruption, and many other things raise the bar for preparedness.
However, as children of God, spiritual preparedness is what counts. The worldly things we haven’t achieved should not be the reason to worry about. The Bible says “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:28 NKJV).
Coronavirus, hopefully, has taught us a lesson. Things won’t always be the way you want them to be. This world can change any time far beyond our control. We don’t want to be in a position of regret. Without hesitation and grumbling, we’re to fulfill the purpose we were created: “for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV).
It is a great privilege to be in a position of serving God. Our works are not in vain. Sharing the love that we received, and is now alive in us, is a great way of bringing people closer to God. They should see the one who lives in us.
Don’t postpone that vision. Don’t get stuck on the runway because of fear of uncertainty. God knows exactly how He will sustain you once you’re in flight…as long as you pray, trust, and believe.