I want to sing

On my second day in Burkina, I find myself at a place called the Dorcas House.  A place where girls have experienced some of life’s toughest trials, and yet where joyful singing can be heard before you even step foot inside the perimeter.  Singing that has no end; singing to a King who is worthy.  It truly is a tiny, glorious glimpse of heaven.

I walk nervously into the room where 50 girls are gathered, learning a Bible lesson in French and Jula.  I find my way near the back part of the room where these beautiful faces eagerly make a space for me.  Even though I don’t understand what is going on around me, I can feel the presence of God, and it is overwhelming.  Just as the heat, mixed with unfamiliar languages, threatens to make my mind wander away, suddenly, a strong, high-pitched voice pierces through the air. Soon, a djembe joins in to create the kind of wonderful African beat you dream about….well, at least I dream about African beats!  Then, all of the girls erupt in a magnificent song, standing up to dance in worship.  I don’t know what to do, so I just sit there amazed.  The girl sitting next to me happens to know English, so she leans over and says to me, “Do you know what they are singing? The words are: Jesus is coming back, and if you are not ready, you are not going with Him.”

All of the breath left my lungs.  They sing because they are ready.  We sing because we are ready for Christ to return, and we long for Him to return.  We praise the holy God of Israel, because He is faithful. Not only did He give us His only Son to save us, but He has a plan to redeem all of creation.  Jesus is coming back.  I gaze in awe at this display of worship.  Some of these girls have been beaten in their villages because of their faith, some have been abandoned and neglected, some had been sold into vile situations, but all, with their faces turned toward heaven, hope in the Almighty God.  Their eyes light up with the precious love of our Savior’s.  He is so beyond spectacular in them.  Their faith is far greater than mine, and all I want to do is sit at their feet and learn from them.

These are my sisters.  We worship the Great I Am.

I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect beginning to my stay in Africa.  It was the most beautiful gift, and I will forever treasure it in my heart.  Thank you, Father, for allowing me to worship You alongside my sisters in Burkina. Thank you for showing me a clearer picture of what it means to truly rely on you.  We are desperate for You.  Thank you for their raw, passionate faith.  Would You please open their hearts and lavish them with your perfect and abounding love?  Would You please bless them the way that they have blessed me?  Oh God, you are way too good to me.  Blessed be Your Name forever and ever. Amen.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Call me crazy

As I pray and prepare for this journey to Burkina Faso, where I will soon be spending the next year of my life, I am challenged daily as I encounter the Living God.  Let me tell you, His ways are not like our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

What if God told me to only pack a small backpack of things to last me the year in Burkina Faso? What if He told me to bring nothing at all, except for the clothes on my back? I’m not saying He did, but the thought has entered my mind.  The prayer has left my lips, “Father, You tell ME what you want me to bring for my journey.”  Would it really be that crazy? Is it really out of His character for Him to demand this sort of obedience, in light of scripture?  Can anyone read the end of Luke 9 and try to get around the fact that following Jesus means to abandon everything?  Can anyone read the end of Luke 14 where He concludes, “So, therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” and twist it to mean something other than ‘give up all that you have’? Are we going to try to make it seem like Jesus is okay with materialism? Can we tweak scripture so that it doesn’t seem like Jesus actually demands our entire lives?

“A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give up everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.
But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image..” (Radical- David Platt)

If this is the Jesus you follow, I URGE you to read the Bible. I am not saying that Jesus demands that every single follower give up 100 percent of everything they own. In Luke 19 Zacchaeus says to Jesus, “Behold, Lord, the half of my good I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus says “Today salvation has come to this house..”  This man gave half, plus fourfold to anyone he previously ripped off- and it was good.  But Jesus does demand total obedience. He does demand you to lose your life, so that you can find it in Him. He knows what is best for you, dearly beloved. So if He tells you to give up everything, or half, or your friends, or your house…He knows what He’s doing.  Don’t you know that you are worth more than many sparrows?  If you don’t know, go to the Crepe Escape in Snohomish while my best friend Rachel and her band are playing, and they’ll remind you. Or go read it in Matthew 10:31 yourself.  I can promise you, though, you won’t know that Jesus is all-satisfying until you truly abandon your life.. and you need Him. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  I. lack. nothing.

And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics..” Luke 9:3

And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17-18

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Luke 9:57-58

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59,60

Yet another said, I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, ”No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:61-62

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33

Take nothing, not even an extra shirt.  Abandon your careers. You will likely end up homeless. Let someone else bury your dead loved ones. Do not even say good-bye to your family.  Love Me in such a way that makes even your closest relationships look like hate.  You will suffer greatly. Give up everything you have, even your own life.
Follow Me.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Be still

I sit down casually on my bed to read a page or two of ‘The Holiness of God’ by R.C. Sproul before I begin the day’s list of errands.

“We fear God because He is holy…He is too awesome.  He makes difficult demands on us.  He is the Mysterious Stranger who threatens our security.  In His presence we quake and tremble.  Meeting Him personally may be our greatest trauma..”

As I read these words, my hand that is holding the book begins to tremble. I just look at it, perplexed.  I wonder if my mind is collaborating with my hand to play a trick on me, considering I had just read the words, “in His presence we quake and tremble”.  But even as that thought crosses my mind, the trembling seems to slowly take over my body.  Not a drastic body tremor…just an uncontrollable, soft, tremble.  I close my eyes.  My breathing is shallow. I search for Him.. I know He’s there.  I want to cry out, “what is it, Father?”, but He won’t even allow me to speak.  He silences me.  I think about just days before, how He said to me through my  devotional, ‘I meet you in the stillness of your soul.’ Only God could produce stillness so intense.  I wait, staring into the black void until it becomes like a familiar, peaceful blanket surrounding me.

A single tear streams down the left side of my face until, finally- I hear a voice on my heart: “In ME you live and move and breathe”

The past few weeks have been painfully humbling in so many ways.  For one thing, God has directed my prayers and led me to seek understanding of His great Mercy.  He has gently been opening my eyes.  He knows that I am slow to understand and listen, and of course, quick to speak.  It makes so much sense that He would completely silence me.  Most of the time when I seek Him with intentions to hear His voice, I am still talking. Why is it so hard to be still?  I swear that it is the hardest task in the world.  Maybe this western culture has aided in my corruption.  Regardless, He gave me the words that brought me back to the very core of my being.  I am from dust.  HE put His breath in me.  It is only by Him that I live and move and breathe.

I think of the words from a warrior in Christ, Gianna Jessen, when she boldly proclaimed:

“”Don’t you realize that you cannot make your own heart beat? Don’t you realize that all the power that you think you possess.. you really possess none of it! It is the MERCY of God that sustains you- even when you hate Him.”

Oh God.. I am nothing apart from You. I know it is by your great mercy that I am not utterly consumed; that You allow me to walk on this earth each day. That you allow me to take each new breath. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve your goodness. Who am I that I should be the object of Your Mercy and Love?

Job 12:10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Let my mouth be filled with Your praise.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments