Oh what a week we’ve had!While I’ve always been one to truly cherish time with family, this was a different feeling for me…a deeply soaking, fully awake, what-do-we-even-try-to-squeeze-in, please-let-me-share-how-great-you-are-with-everyone, saturation in the time with those who have known and loved us from day one. The past 7 days have been full of adventures, memories, fun, encounters, friends, nature, ministry, and comfort that only comes from a Daddy’s arms and a Mama’s conversations.
We gave the infamous see you later hugs to my sweet parents today as we put them back on a plane towards the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. And while we were sad to see them go and there still remains that pang of ouch in them walking one way and us walking the other, there is also a new sense of knowing fluttering inside my heart… knowing this is where we belong, knowing this is our specific calling and that this is right, knowing that they know that…. And there is great peace in such knowledge. We are refreshed and our hearts our full. We are exhausted from a week of exploration and sharing. And we are confident that God has placed us here and them there. Sharing our African life with family is an incredible experience, but it’s hard to escape the whispers in my mind that remind me that I can’t recreate a life here that looked like it did before the move. Our family is always welcome in our home with open arms, but at the end of the day they were visitors in this part of our lives. Our world has changed, and while we are thankful for the chance to share it with our parents, we realize that God has called us to be here, to be far, to be separate, to be a part of His Family when ours is a world away. And while there is sacrifice in that, there is far greater blessing. God provides in abundance. God uses the Body to encourage. God meets us when we need to belong and He is present in ways we never used to allow. How blessed we are to have soaked in that oh-so-sweet Mama and Daddy time and how blessed we are to carry on with ministry here in this place we call home for now.
We live in a place where poverty is real. We walk streets that cry out in need. We gaze at injustice daily. We look into the eyes of people that know pain. And daily, we battle with big questions that beckon for big answers. I have felt heavy with the burden to explain, to share, to make sense of it to those on the outside….shoot….to make sense of it to myself! I want people to see past the cliché shacks of 3rd world poverty, the hunger evident in protruded bellybuttons, the disease documented in online statistics, the wonderful mission trip photos of beautiful, pitiful, shirtless little children…. and I want them to see internally, to understand, to know what is really happening. What are the problems? Why is it like that? Who is hurting? How can we fix it? This burden for an explanation has weighed me down. It has consumed my thoughts and my dinnertime conversations. At times it has even left my husband needing more of me and less of these problems. It has challenged me and I haven’t been able to run from it (after all, I was a human services/psychology student… aren’t we all constantly reading people and weird like that?). But I have good news! I climbed a mountain this week and God met me there. As I crested the peak to see a tired sun making its way toward the horizon, to see mountains reveling in their majesty and planted firmly into the earth, to look out at a sea that wraps around the world in depth and beauty and power, in perfect control of its waters, the burden of explanations was lifted from me.
I had it all wrong. I am not here to explain the woes of mankind. I am here to express the glory of our Savior. The creations before our eyes on top of that big mountain did not need explaining… they were doing exactly what God created for them to do. They were proclaiming His Sovereignty. They were beckoning the anchor of Hope we have in Him. They were shouting the absolute control that was upon them simply because they existed. There was not an ounce of pressure to explain to anyone what was happening with those mountains and that ocean…it just was, and that was perfectly perfect. In that moment, I was slammed with the realization that the same is true with God’s people. My purpose is not to explain brokenness…my purpose is to declare Hope. My focus had shifted from worship and had been set instead on evaluating problems and communicating them well.
God is good. He is capable of doing great things in the people He created and for the people He created. And He can do all things in His power. But He wants to use us to do those things. I believe that sometimes He will not work unless we move (notice I did not say “cannot”, but “will not”). He has given us minds to think critically, to communicate efficiently, to evaluate how to meet needs, to assess how change will come about… and all these things are necessary in solving problems so big. But at the end of the day, we are vessels of prayer, obedience, love, Hope. We were created to do these things. God’s workmanship, His masterpieces. Just as the mountains and the sea act in obedience to their Creator by declaring glory in a way that quiets every piece of your soul, so we are created to declare…to bow down…to worship…and to establish Hope. He is good all the time. Even when an explanation seems so far away. Praise is always a good answer. Remember that we serve El Roi (the God who sees), Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals), Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides), and Jehovah Shalom (the God of peace).
Go in obedience toward the brokenness He desires for you to enter into and declare His goodness. That's all He wants from us.