Monday, July 28, 2008

Last night there was a rat in my room. I really wanted to go to the bathroom, but when I heard his little feet scratching around, I literally couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with fear. Now, I’m usually a pretty fearless person and have been told so on many occasions. Why did this little mouse scare me so? I don’t know, but it led me to think about how often, as human beings, we are crippled by our fear. We are afraid of change, of losing, of being hurt. We cling tightly to what we have because we are afraid of what might happen if we didn’t have it anymore.

I read a story once:

Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: “How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials and knowledge so that we are safe and secure if a crisis occurs.” So they started hoarding. So much and so eagerly that the other peoples protested and said: “You have so much more than you need, while we don’t have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!” But the fearful hoarders said: “No, no we need to keep this in case of emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened.” But the others said: “We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can’t wait… we are dying now!”
Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful since they became afraid that the poor and hungry people would attack them. So they said to one another: “Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us.” They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether their enemies we outside the walls or not! As their fear increased they put bombs at the top of their walls so that nobody from outside would even dare to come close. But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear. They even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And gradually they realize that their fear of death had brought them closer to it. – Henry Nouwen

“But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-discipline.” When I imagine God creating each one of us and planting a purpose deep in our hearts, I never imagine that purpose being mediocrity. “You are to find me in the least of these.” Yes. “You are to leave your earthly possession and come follow me.” Yes. “You are to love and serve the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself” Yes. “You are to go and make disciples of all nations.” Yes. “You are to entertain strangers and leapers and tax collectors.” Yes. “You are to show mercy.” Yes. “You are to live a life of mediocrity and abundance, holding on tight to your comfortable lifestyle, lest you lose it.” No. I don’t think so. Its not there, thought that seems like the safe choice for many, including myself. Leaving your possessions to follow Jesus, entertaining strangers, it does sound a little scary, but what if just beyond that risk, just beyond the fear is a life better than anything we have ever imagined – LIFE TO THE FULLEST.

I’m not calling everyone to pack up and move to Africa, to drop everything and go be a missionary. I believe you can be a “missionary” right where you are. I’m just asking you to take a risk. Make a sacrifice. Do something today that you think you can’t afford, can’t be bothered by, don’t have time for. Stop and talk to a homeless man – if the risk is that he pulls out a knife, so be it. Play with your kids for an extra thirty minutes – if the risk is that all the work doesn’t get done, so be it. Share Christ with someone – if the risk is that they think you are strange, oh well.

Today you can choose to be like me and lay paralyzed in your bed, uncomfortably longing to go to the bathroom but unable to move because of your fear of something as small as a mouse. Or you can choose to take a risk – do something for someone, make someone smile, change someone’s world. LIFE TO THE FULLEST – it exists. The choice is yours.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For the last two days, I have once again woken up to a tiny brown hand rubbing my face. "mommy, mommy, mommy its time for wake up". Once again I have remembered how much I truly enjoy a big bowl of rice after a long hot day. Once again I feel, every minute of every day, humbled beyond belief. This morning, Agnes looked at me and said "There it is! It came back!" When I asked her what, she replied "that light that lives in your eyes". Yes. Its back. The light that lives in my eyes and the joy that dances in my heart and the smile that never leaves my face. I feel ALIVE. For those of you who didn't know, I am back in Uganda. Only til the 20th of August this time, but that is long enough to love many.

Somehow, this time i do not feel so far away. I have learned in the last couple months of living at "home" in America and being away from my "home" here just how small this earth really is, just what great a distance love can conquer. God has this whole word just sitting in the palm of His hand. We are literally neighbors. Funding aside, I can be here in just 24 hours. And in 24 hours I can be there. And people are people here and people are people there. They all need food and water and medicine, and mostly Love and Truth and Jesus. And I can do that. I can give people food and water and medicine, and I can give them Love and Truth and Jesus. And I couldn't ever do any of it except with the empowerment and blessings that the Lord has given me.

Many people view Africa as another world, and in being here, it would be easy to think that, it IS different. But really, it is the same. Human beings just hungry for God. Hungry for a purpose, for love, for life. They want to be able to support their children, they want to be able to work, they want to be able to give back, they want to be good, noble people. They want to feel important, and needed, and beautiful. The children want to play, and to eat, and to learn, and to be loved. We are all the same. We do not live in different worlds, but the same one. The same God created us for the same purpose and that was to serve Him and to love and care for His people. It is universal.

So people tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it: I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people. People tell me they miss me because I am so far away. And here is the truth of it: I'm not. I'm right here, right here on this same Earth as you just doing what I can to make it a little bit better, a little bit more like His kingdom.

To all of you who help make all of this possible, THANK YOU will never be sufficient, but your reward in Heaven is great. And I feel like Heaven may be a lot like Uganda :)