Saturday, June 20, 2015

Serving Among the Messy...(heading back to East Africa)

Today marks a little over 2 weeks until I hit the skies again for another African adventure.  I'm in the phase where I wonder if all that needs to get accomplished will get done before my flight leaves, so obviously procrastination is the best method at this point! ;-)  I have a research paper for my summer class that needs to be completed before I's due the day I return.  I need to collect supplies and anything else my little heart desires and get everything organized and packed before I leave for our yearly family beach trip in just over a week.  I need to organize with friends who's bringing me where, when I'm dropping the dog off, where my car will be, and the like.  I need booster vaccinations (that's scheduled for tomorrow morning...don't stress Mom!).  I also could use to study for my class final, which I'm taking a little early (while at the beach) to protect against the unpredictable internet access of Africa!  All of this must get done while somehow working overtime and trying to stick to this diet and exercise plan I've been committed to!  Basically it's a lot...

But, none of that is why I'm writing.  Although, if you're interested in donating baby supplies for me to bring with me...head over to Facebook for details...

It was a few weeks ago in church that I feel like God revealed to me why I feel so at home in Africa.  We are studying through the book of Acts and have gotten to Acts 11.  The start of this chapter (1-18) recounts the story of the apostles questioning Peter on why he was associating with Gentiles (non-Jewish men).  In this story, we see that God did not mean salvation only for those of Jewish decent, he was bringing "repentance that leads to life" (verse 18) to all people, even those the Jews of the time would have considered unclean by the law.  We learn several things in this story, but the truth that resonated most with me was:
We can't stand in God's way!  We must learn to get comfortable with the messiness of lost people, those who don't seem worthy of our time or love, or even of God's saving.  Because, Jesus came to save ALL peoples!

Here are a few questions that were posed that Sunday:
~ What level of lostness are you comfortable with?
~ How messy is too messy for you?
~ Who is not worth serving?

The point...God is calling me (and you) to get comfortable with the lostness of messy people I don't consider worth serving.

What I realized was, in Africa...among the messiness and is easier for me to see God at work, to choose to serve His people, and to get comfortable with messy.  Maybe because there was no other option, maybe because God gave out grace in abundance, or maybe because a part of me was formed to serve there...what I do know is that Christians aren't called to live separate lives, we are called to live in and among the mess.

While Jesus was on Earth everything unclean he touched became clean...and he remained clean as well.  This is the opposite of the law, which said when clean touches unclean, it becomes unclean.  Think about the leppers, those dead, and even the woman who touched his garments...each became clean (healed).  Jesus also consistently associated with the lost and lowly...he lived in the mess.

For some reason, for me it is easier to push myself in this area overseas.  In my own backyard, I find it easy to remain outside of the mess and forget who I'm called to serve.  We find a comfort zone and settle into it.  But, for me, despite my LOVE for Africa and it's people, I'm still pushed outside my comfort zone while walking the streets there...and find indescribable joy in serving from that place.

When asked what I was most excited about for this adventure?  I said, "Just being back on African soil!"  I don't have a spelled out roll this time around, but I do know my heart is alive when I'm dirty, sweaty, and surrounded by children who are being raised in poverty to know a God who cares about each hair on their head and will be their provider in more tangible ways than you and I will ever know.  My hope is that I wake each morning and ask God to direct my steps, to give me the words to say, and the love to share.  May I be a conduit of God's love in a small way by choosing to live outside my comfort zone, among the mess!
And may that translate into my life when I return...

East Africa here I come!

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