Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Saw What I Saw and I Can't Forget It...

The title is pulled from the lyrics of one of my most favorite songs. It is by Sara Groves.

I have wanted to put into words what I saw with my eyes and my heart while we were on our mission trip to Ethiopia a few weeks ago, but I hesitate because I know words could not even scratch the surface.

Going on a mission trip to a third world country where there is so much need presents a great temptation to view yourself as a savior of sorts. Our team met several times before we left and we were reminded that God calls us to be irrelevant. In the book "In the Name of Jesus" Henri Nouwen writes...

I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God's Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.

So I went allowing myself to be vulnerable, resisting the urge to "do" anything for God and expecting Him instead to work in and through me at His will. Can I say that being vulnerable doesn't come easy for me. My tendency is to accomplish, work hard, succeed and conquer, a tendency to be relevant. But, God is gracious, and He showed me the joy, the untethered worship and the peace that comes with a life of dependence on Him through the beautiful people of Ethiopia. People who trust Him for everything, knowing that He is the source of their joy and that He is their sustenance and that He is their savior.

I think a big revelation for me since coming home is that I have been seeking to find joy and peace and sustenance in my hard work and accomplishments! Oh, how much I miss when I believe that lie. When I wake up each morning and I carry the false burden of being "in charge" I think I barrel right past God's blessings for my day, not stopping to notice Him until I accomplish all that I think needs to be done. Why do I make myself so big and God so small, especially when I know better! While we were in Ethiopia, I saw hunger, sickness and extreme poverty but that was not what I saw in the hearts of the people. Their hearts were spilling over with love and joy and it showed most to me in the way that they interacted with each other. Instead of feeling like they each had their own tasks to accomplish, they live life caring for and encouraging each other.

To be honest, for me it isn't easy to keep the truth in clear sight in our busy. success-oriented American culture. I still have the tendency to accomplish, sometimes even calling it "for God". I am so thankful that God showed me so tangibly what it means to know that I am dependent on Him and pray that He continues to break my heart for the things that break His and that I would quit wasting time "accomplishing" things and instead fully trust in Him to show His love in mighty ways through my life.

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