Friday, January 20, 2012

He is everywhere

Jesus was especially sweet to me the week leading up to my journey back here to Kenya. I crave Kenya so bad when I am not there because it is where I see Jesus the clearest. It is not hard to spot Him and whether I am rejoicing or weeping in response to where I do or do not see Him, He is close by always. Night after night in Kenya (when I am living with the kids), I go to bed completely exhausted--spent in every way and absolutely requiring the mercy waiting for me in the morning and the rest of however many hours of sleep the night holds. My daily prayer that I would be "spent" (Isaiah 58) seems answered every day, more than I'd like oftentimes.

Admittedly, I dread American life for this very reason. Maybe it's because I have to squint harder to see Him there, have to be more intentional about seeking out opportunities to serve Him, or have to be obedient to His demand to love family and friends and strangers even when they are less small and cute and innocent as my Kenyan babies. Going to bed "spent" on others is an uncommon occurrence in my American life. I am super aware that I am only taking care of MYSELF when I am in America. I am responsible for no one else and I hate it most days.

This past week was different... in preparation for Kenya, I started praying the prayers I pray when I am here. Bold prayers, though they do not seem so bold when I am in a country with so much hurt--a country where my eyes will inevitably meet a sick, hungry, poor, abandoned, unloved, orphaned, unsaved person at almost every turn in the bumpy roads. The joy He gives when we spend ourselves is an absolute gift that is intended to give us the fuel to keep going... read Isaiah 58 if you don't believe me. :) Or even if you do, it's good stuff! God answered... He showed Himself like crazy. Literally, about every 10 minutes, He did something that left me laughing and shaking my head as I looked up at Him and called Him crazy or ridiculous or some completely inadequate word to describe His goodness. I slept about 3 hours a night but had more energy and joy than ever in my life... I was afraid to stop running and take a moment to stop because I feared to remember that sinful desire to serve myself above all others.

He blew me away with the graciousness that is so much a part of Him, in relationships more than anything; people whose faces shined Him so brightly I had to squint (now for a different reason). Old familiar friends whose hearts knit together in the perfect places to glorify Him through living in community and new friendships that made me wonder how He could possibly be so good to add them to my family.

Nothing about this has ceased... He is here just as much as He is there. He was there just as much as He was here (when I believed and lived and prayed otherwise). The hurt that helped me find Him/need Him here in Kenya is just as much a part of America. It wears a different disguise oftentimes, but it is there. He is my (OUR, I pray) deepest longing and so it is our desire to see Him everywhere. We look for Him... and when we see Him, we need to jump and shout and rejoice! I am constantly hearing it and constantly asking for it myself, "Jesus, come..." whether it is us inviting Him into our worship services (HE IS ALREADY THERE) or inviting Him into our circumstances (HE IS ALREADY THERE) or inviting Him into our pain (HE IS ALREADY THERE) or inviting Him into our joy (HE IS ALREADY THERE), we should ask believing and expecting!

Seek Him while He may be found!!!!!

I can tell you from personal experience (mostly from my experience in the inverse), Hebrews 11:6 is TRUTH. He wants to be seen and exalted and is incredibly generous to give us joy and increased faith in exchange.

I always wish that a song could play in the background of life; I'd definitely pick "We the Redeemed" by Hillsong if it was up to me. Luckily, we have this to look forward to in Heaven, but until then... I know I'd live a bit differently if this song was dimly playing as I walked through life. "We the redeemed, hear us singing--You are Holy, You are Holy." Let our everyday lives sing this to Him, whether we are doing laundry or paying the tollbooth guy, or talking to our parents, or holding an orphan, or eating lunch with our co-workers.

‎"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, YOU ARE THERE; if I make my bed in the depths, YOU ARE THERE. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, EVEN THERE your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." ~Psalm 139 : 7-10

He is there. Jesus is in the mansions on Riverside Drive and Jesus is in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya... these are some of the places I've seen Him these past couple of days:

in a game of soccer at a special needs school--where He let me be the legs and feet for an incredible soccer star who will someday walk, I believe!

in this game of Duck Duck Goose at a deaf school... the most silent game of Duck Duck Goose in history, but so much fun.

in this place where making relationships had to get creative... the comfort and ease of speaking (either Swahili or English) was stripped away with hearing and we were forced to fight hard to love each other.

in these sweet faces who exuded joy and love and were so quick to open their hearts to us.

He is everywhere. Now let's find Him and celebrate His presence as the gift that it is... glory to God that He may be found!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the why

why why why why why why? -- something people ask often and I respond to with shrugged shoulders. Now my answer is Jesus and I realize it always should have been...

I want them to know Him. Knowing Him is everything... knowing Him is a million times better than being cured and knowing Him is a trillion times better than a heart that rarely aches and knowing Him is a kazillion times better than having a mom or dad and knowing Him is a bajillion times better than having a full stomach and warm bed and education and clean clothes. So. much. better.

I am not okay with this earth being the best they know.

I want the things I rejoice in every single day to be the same source of praise and joy for them.

I want to sit beside them in their hurt and cling to the hope of future glory, hand in hand.

I want to be able to cry with them over the hurts of this world and proclaim the promise that the tears will be wiped from our faces when we join Him in Heaven.

Of course I want them to be fed and loved and clothed and fought for and adopted and respected and healed, but more than anything--I want them to be saved, to be redeemed, to KNOW HIM.

I think we are all called to surround ourselves with the poor, dirty, broken, hurting, and sick and if we do, our eyes will see a lot of pain. Hopefully even more than seeing it, we will feel it as our own. My prayer is that we see Him as both our chief need as well as theirs. That we would be slower to prescribe 12-step programs and faster to share the gospel. That we would be slower to hand out a quick meal and faster to sit down and make relationships over dinner. That we would be slower to diagnose their "needs" and faster to remember it's Jesus.

He answers prayers. My heart is in pieces over orphans and the sick and oppressed--He has already convinced me they are worth giving my life for, but now I am praying a bit differently. I am praying my heart aches first and foremost for the ones who do not know Him as I do.

The image of Carol, Lucy, the children that fill orphanages and others I know who have endured such deep pain on this earth rejoicing when they meet Him is something that makes my heart almost explode. John 16 is the sweetest truth--they (we!), if followers of Jesus, will remember the anguish we endured on earth NO MORE!!!! The joy will so far exceed any pain of the times before that remembering it is not even an option. "In that day you will ask nothing of me"... all of our needs will be met, forever. No more hunger, no more sickness, no more fear, no more loneliness--only joy. JESUS.

I want that for the man digging through the trash in downtown Atlanta and I want that for the orphan who silently cries herself to sleep each night and I want that for the cancer patient who suffers alone in a hospital room and I want that for the woman selling her body on the streets and I want that for the man who beats his wife and I want that for for the innocent child who inherited illness in his blood and I want that for the ones who buy and trade human lives like they are pieces of meat and I want that for the 'rich young rulers' of today and I want that for those of us who don't even know we're sick and needy.

So, that's why. No other reason.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." ~Romans 8:18-25