It’s been just over a week since Africa.
There’s just something about being somewhere completely unfamiliar and unlike what you’re used to that creates reflection and growth.
There’s just something about Africa that opened my eyes to how much I have to learn: about life, about Love, about God.
When I close my eyes, I can still so vividly see them; beautiful, radiant faces fill my mind. The faces of the little African boys and girls who taught me more about Jesus, His joy, gratitude, hope, and unconditional love than any preacher or seminary professor ever could.
How can one such as I, born into education, prosperity, health, a stable family and endless opportunity, have more to learn about Love, purpose, and life from those born into poverty, disease, a broken dying family, rejection, and abandonment?
Because for these little ones, the temporary riches, affections, and comforts of this world that so easily distract me don’t blur their view of Jesus.
Because it is written that blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Because when the human capacity of love forsakes and rejects, the unfailing divine Love of God is that much more real.
Sit in a room full of almost 200 beautiful little African bodies. Each one with a story. Stories of hurt, rejection, death, hunger. Siblings dying of starvation before their eyes. Parents wasting away from HIV/AIDS. Stuck in the web of poverty. Sleeping on cold, hard floors. Put out on the streets. Left to fend for themselves. Feeling so unwanted, so uncared for, so unloved. Hopelessness within them, and hopelessness everywhere around them.
Sit in this room, and hear each voice sing praises that fill the throne room. Listen to their hearts cry out of how His Love is higher than any mountain, deeper than any ocean, and wider than any continent. Listen to them speak words that cover you in conviction and leave you grasping for some genuine understanding of what they know. “I’m glad my mother died because it means that I know Jesus and His Word now”. Feel their joy, contentment and gratitude. See their love and fulfillment.
Sit in this room, and something within you cannot help but change.
Be poured into for 5 days by a 14 year old girl who’s parents have died. Be greeted by her precious smile and open arms each morning. Have her hand in yours for hours simply because she doesn’t want to let you go. Be welcomed into Africa as if it were your home. Be unconditionally loved by her as if you had known her your whole life. Receive beautiful letters of her admiration, love, care and gratefulness of you. Be called “Mum” by her. Hold her in your arms, in the dark on the dirt of your last night there, as she sobs, barely making out the words that she doesn’t want you to leave. Be loved by this girl with absolutely everything that she has, and something within you cannot help but change.
Africa has heightened my understanding of how small I am. How our love falls so short when it’s not His Agape Love. How limited my perspective is. How in need I am, and we all are, of Him. How much higher His ways are than mine. How much I don’t have it all figured out. How much I have let my worldly and physical affluence rob me of spiritual richness.
This place. These people. These children. They have shown me more fully how to love. They’ve increased my desire to love those who I encounter today with absolutely everything within me. to love deeper. To love farther. To love more purely. To love more selflessly. To love more passionately. To hold nothing back and show them His Agape Love that requires nothing in return and is not at all dependent upon them. To love everyone I meet just as these children have loved me. To ultimately give Him full freedom to love through me.
However that may look.
They’ve increased my desire to run. To run harder. To run faster. To run straighter. To run farther. To run more passionately. To ultimately give Him full freedom to run through me.
However that may look.
“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run…looking unto Jesus…” Hebrews 12:1
This verse is my prayer, my desire, my encouragement from the Lord for this year. To love deeply. To run passionately. To live fully. And allowing Him to remove everything in my life that distracts, deters, or hinders Him from doing that through me.