The Battle is On

            I have been trying to write this blog for nearly an hour and I am still not satisfied. The first time I tried to write I was angry. Complaining about consumerism, legalism, lacking compassion, our endless lust and coveting, our misunderstanding of love, and so much more. I read over my thoughts and knew my pessimism would help no one, inluding myself. So I started to write again and after reading it, I knew it sounded so fake. All the hurt, pain, and sin was masked by a layer of false perfection and artificial love. Then I stopped and realized the battle that is going on in my life and mind is happening in my writing.

            I spent the last week resting and recovering from being sick, and realized today, my battle is at it’s peak. The battle of two worlds colliding in my mind and in my experiences as I try to go about a normal American life once again. The Africa in me is colliding with the America in me.

            Last year when I came home from Africa the hardest thing for me was the stuff. The endless amount of worthless stuff we as Americans harbor and save. I was moved to donate much of what I owned for the needs of others. Only to find out I still had more than enough stuff. I was moved to start giving more of my money to specific needs I a saw in those around me. I was convicted to start spending less on myself and giving more away to others. And I struggled as I watched the world around me only wanting more stuff, buying more gadgets, new clothes, and amazingly enough, still never being satisfied with what they had.  

            This year, the Lord pierced my heart deeper and relentlessly. And I believe it’s the most important reason he brought me back to Africa. He took me from the stuff to the reason for the stuff. He took me from the ridiculous amount we spend and ridiculous amount we accumulate to the reason why we always want more and are never satisifed. He showed me that it isn’t a problem of culture or region but of our hearts. It is a problem of humanity.

            Children in Zambia are dying daily from starvation and malnutrition. Yet children in America are starved daily of the affection and love of a parent, or anyone at all. Is one worse than the other? When I try to fathom the things that I saw and experienced in Africa I begin to compare them with my experiences here in America. They cannot be compared: the places, the people, the governments, the resources. None of it. I am reminded of Jesus’ word’s in Matthew 5: ‚everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment for murder, everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ There is no comparison. They are the same sins of our flesh, of our broken humanity. And the most incredible miracle of all is that although we sit and compare, Jesus doesn’t. He sees them all the same and he forgives them all the same. And these are his words to us:      
'For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’             Matthew 25: 34-40

            So whether it be a dying orphan in Zambia, or a love starved child at daycare in Missouri…let us love them as our own. Whether it be a woman worn by years of tough living and tasks much harder than she can manage or a woman struggling with the burden of pain and emotional turmoil…let us comfort her. Whether it be a teenager faced with the temptations this world has to offer or a teenager flawed by the fear of never going to school or never being wanted…let us show them what they’re worth.

            As odd as it may sound I am so thankful for getting malaria. In perspective it doesn’t compare, but as a young, healthy, American, I am grateful to have experienced only for a couple of weeks the disease, which takes the life of 1 child every 40 seconds in Africa.  I am grateful to have survived it, to learn to be thankful for the medical care and education I have access to. And I am thankful for the time it has given me to read and think and allowed God to teach me and mold my heart. I am so quick to focus on the bad, the pain, the ugly, and the sorrow of life. Sometimes I get so lost in it, that I am incapable of seeing the good, the beauty, the joy, and the room for change. Yet I know that is exactly who my God is. He is a God who breaks into the pain and the ugly and creates beauty and good. He is the God who leaves his place of perfection and holiness to dwell with the sinners and the losers. It is who He is. And it is who He has called us to be.

Grace, and precious orphan being treated at Cure for club feet
            I pray He breaks my heart for His people everywhere. Because He is not only the God of Africa, or America, He is the God of His people, everywhere.

All this pain

I wonder if I'll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

-Beautiful Things by Gungor

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