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!