Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Deposits of Love: restoring the hope in the hearts of the people

Boy - oh - boy were the last two weeks packed to the brim with heart tugs, tears and laughter.  It is almost as if  I am so packed with heart-string moments I am uncertain of what to unpack & process first. So let me start chronologically with: Day One on African soil

My morning was filled to overflowing with a collection of thoughts, concerns and worries. It was like I was on a teeter totter. One minute I was giving God complete access to use me, the other I was trying to get my feet back on the ground so I could jump off and run back to the USA. I will share more about this opening scene of my day in a post to follow.  For now (just so you get an idea of what led to what) I will tell you that I had been asked by the CTK Kenya National Director to prepare to give a Word of Encouragement to the church we were visiting. This would require me actually being able to walk up by myself in front of a crowd and speak words that would not only appear to have been thought out, but also would be a blessing to the congregation. HA! (more to come later)

After church it was time to head to a community area in the vicinity of the church where we spent our morning. The church was putting on a Sports Ministry Outreach Event where Volleyball, Races, Music and Dancing were taking place at the heart of the neighborhood.

As the bustle of activity was swirling around me God continued to point out the children to me. They were everywhere watching.

My eyes began scanning my surroundings and I noticed the abundance of children within this community. As the activities continued to go on, more and more children were coming out to participate. Put a kiddo near me and my eyes will shift towards them - it is hard for me not to watch their every move. 

 It is as if they have invisible strings attached to me and they spin me around to get my full attention.

See the little girl in the ruffley white dress pictured above - she had captured my attention. I followed her as she walked around the field a bit - soon as she became bored of what the bare dirt field had to offer she headed to the trash pile. 

First she was alone entertaining herself as she plucked and dug through the trash. It was captivating her. Not long after, one by one, friends came to join her. Despite the filth and the danger that lurked she was absorbed by the wonder of it all. So much to look at and interact with, especially the fire.

Every move these little precious kids made reminded me of just how important the call is for us, as the generation they are watching. The call to change the future. The call to deposit seeds of hope into our children so that the trash does not seem like their only option... and when I say "OUR" children, I mean ALL children.

As this young girl directed her steps towards the trash pile I wanted to stop her, tell her "NO...you might get dirty, cut or burned."  

This picture reminded me so much of God's heart for us. We begin our trek into the trash pile and he begins to send us warning signals showing us his heart for us. We frequently find ourselves ignoring the warning signals and continuing on in the pursuit of our own goal. As we begin to step into troubled waters we sense we should not be alone. Our deep need is really to be walking side by side with our creator but that would require turning back - so instead we call out to our friends. "Join me... this will be fun." Somehow we believe it is not as dangerous if we are not alone. Or maybe it keeps our minds and ears distracted from hearing the convicting warning calls of God. 

In many cases the belief is he will be angry - or he will stop us from fun - or stop us from our desire. Oh - we are so human, so silly. He knows us, he created us for a purpose - His purpose. Only that, His purpose, is truly fulfilling deep down into our soul. Nothing, absolutely nothing else will satisfy.

I wonder, for those of us who have found ourselves at some point surrounded by the mess and destruction, what could have stopped us from heading towards the trash pile? I think if we had our eyes watching people eagerly seeking Jesus, and modeling the joy that comes from being deep in relationship with him, it could have looked differently. Nothing on this planet looks as appealing as someone who has found great JOY in their relationship with God. It exudes enthusiasm, peace, love, passion, and purpose. It stands out from the crowd. It lives a life of no regrets. Others are drawn to it. It is unexplainable really. 

You see it and you want it. 

If we truly want to see change in our lives, and the lives of the children watching us, it has to come through Jesus. This change doesn't happen by saying some magic words in the form of a prayer.  This change comes about by knowing who it is you are talking to (God), knowing who He says you are, and having a real relationship with him. It is all about the relationship. When we have a close relationship with him all of a sudden we are becoming transformed. Step by step we begin our journey toward living a life full of reconciliation, peace, patience, love, wonder and joy. 

It is exciting as we learn that submitting our lives to God simply means trusting in His plan for us vs. trusting ourselves to know what is best for us. For me this feels freeing. When I truly relinquish my method of doing life and am willing to follow His lead, all of a sudden I am filled with an internal enthusiasm I can't explain. The thought of doing something outside of my comfort zone but within God's will and plan for me leaves me eager to see HIM doing the work through me. Don't get me wrong, I certainly have a long history of situations where I am fearful and unwilling to follow his lead. When this happens I know most assuredly that I have missed out on something great.  Something deep inside of me almost pains me - it is like a deep, aching, disappointing groan. I know that if I would have only listened and been willing to follow his lead I would have fulfilled my purpose in that moment. Oh, the joy of listening, following and moving in his will is so much more rewarding then backing away in fear. 

If we really want to keep the next generation from heading into the trash pile we have to show them a JOY-FULL life. They must see the real life relationship we have in Christ in action. The children must begin at a young age interacting with God; listening to him, talking to him, following his lead.  It is the BEST thing in this world! He is real and he is near. He is talking and he is listening. He is leading and he is trustworthy. His plan for us is exciting and he equips us with himself to accomplish his plan. He gets the glory when we seek and follow Him. 

Children are watching. Children model what they see. Let's choose to seek God with our whole heart. Ask him to reveal himself BIG so we can be completely in love with him. As we live our lives eager to follow our trusting Father God  the children will also be eager to seek him.  The trash is only appealing when you can't see the true treasure waiting for you. Let's not waste any more time going through life dull and without direction. Let's live our lives with purpose. The children are watching - the children will follow. 

To truly restore hope in the hearts of people they must see the Deposit of God's love in our daily lives. This is a continual action. Not a one time prayer but a present active participle type of life following Jesus. This kind of living can't help but keep our eyes focused on the treasure and away from the trash. 

"The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness." - Philippians 3:7-9

-Simply Sublime 

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