Sitting in a wooden stool, with sweet Joyce on my left and dear Shaline on my right, we sat in the calm of the cool Kenyan morning. Through the crisp air, soft chirping of birds and the rows in front of us of other beautiful young women we waited to hear the wisdom of Madame Joyce to finish off the day’s morning glory. She stood behind the wooden stand with a cup full of water and an empty water bottle. She began to pour the water from the cup into the bottle, but stopped after just a little. Madame Joyce heeded caution to us for the problematic nature if that is how much our portion is of Christ in our own cup. She then poured more water and then even more. Mama Joyce poured water into the bottle until it was overflowing and spilling over. Perfectly depicting the amount of our chosen portion that must be Christ our Savior. All of it, until we are overflowing with the love, grace, mercy, joy, discipline, gentleness, kindness, patience, endurance of Christ and hope of glory.
Before leaving American soil, I did not think my faith was complacent. I did not think of my faith as being truly weak. I didn’t ponder my gratitude as being insufficient. However, I never thought I would experience the moment of viewing myself as being made in God’s image. The Lord used every single day of being with these young women to allow me to tangibly taste and see the freedom of living in his image. It became so clear, so real and so true that my portion is not overflowing as it should be. It was these beautiful, authentic and faithful girls that revealed life with the Lord as their chosen portion, not only by their words, but by their manner. It was emanated in their simplicity, hospitality, joy in all circumstances, worship, unshakable faith, honesty, unity of mind and sacrifice. It was evident in their light-hearted nature in singing and dancing. Crystal clear in their excitement behind the simplicity of painting, coloring or just contentment in sitting and talking.
Their energy is for God alone. Their whole life is for God alone. Just experiencing life in their presence unveiled the infinite idolatry in my own heart. Immediately, right in front of my face was the depths of what I entangle myself in. The very overwhelming brokenness and sin that hinders my chosen portion of Christ to overflow my cup. Now back home, I am having such an incredibly difficult time facing day to day. This sin is haunting me and burdening my heart in immense ways. I saw firsthand how their souls overcame everything they had been through, and how as they continue to overcome and grow in Christ as they seek him alone. They do not see their lives as painful in comparison to the pain that Christ bore on the cross. In fact, these young women see themselves as children of God who have been brought into the light. They told so many stories of how they love when people ask them why their lives are different. They are not afraid of giving up sin that is clinging to them closely, because their faith in God is so unmovable.
My mind cannot look past the question of how can I not die to my sin? How come I was so complacent in it and did not pay notice? These girls live each moment of the day in the arms of Christ, in his goodness, in worship. They live in a manner knowing that they are free, that they have been brought into the light. How can I not do the same?
My journal has been covered with the following passages this week:
1 Peter 2:11-12 – “Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
Romans 6:1- “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Romans 6:6- “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
Romans 6:12- “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”
Okay, in all honesty, I have had a really, incredibly difficult reverse culture shock. Processing has been difficult and most of it has been flowing tears down my cheeks. How on earth can I go on sinning, complacent in my human nature, after visibly and tangibly experiencing life alongside these beloved daughters of Christ who give their everything to him? Boom. Period. I cannot. I cannot continue to swim in my vile, sinful nature that has entangled me for so long. God demands loyalty from those he loves. Those young women are so precious to me, more than words can ever express. They allowed me to taste and see what a full portion in Christ is. My unfaithfulness and unbelief was like a red buzzer in my own heart and soul.
“The Lord very frequently addresses us in the character of a husband. As He performs all the offices of a true and faithful husband, so He requires love and chastity from us; that is, that we do not prostitute our souls to Satan. As the purer and chaster a husband is, the more grievously he is offended when he sees his wife inclining to a rival; so the Lord, who has betrothed us to Himself in truth, declares that He burns with the hottest jealously whenever, neglecting the purity of His holy marriage, we defile ourselves with abominable lusts, and especially when the worship of His deity, which ought to have been most carefully kept unimpaired, is transferred to another, or adultered with some superstition.” -Calvin
The girl’s love for God is not accidental or aimless in any way. Their love for him is an expression of his sovereign purpose. Their broken and contrite hearts are welcomed so warmly in a vastness beyond our comprehension by our heavenly Father. This humility, this submission, this reliance I feel is lost so easily here as our worship is daily transferred to another. These young women a wait for a city to come. Their eyes are not fixed on now, the seen, but instead, the unseen. They have a proper grasp on eternity. One that made me question mine deeply. They come before the Lord with nothing but their heart.
This broken journey of processing through these thoughts and feelings is approaching a light. For the Lord carefully and sovereignly used every second of my feet walking along the Kenyan dirt, and every second that my hand was in theirs for a lesson greater than I can grasp. My heart beats now as though I am beginning a new journey. One of a repentance deeper than before, one of deeper gratitude, deeper pursuit, deeper depths of the living and abiding word of God.
We are free from the yoke of slavery. We are free from bondage. We are free to breathe as though we were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. I am facing my personal cup head to head, beginning a journey of slowing and painfully pouring out what is not glorifying to my Father. These young women gave me more than I could ever return. It is because of them that I am ready, to throw off the passions of my former ignorance. I am ready to live as though I am free from the yoke of slavery. I am ready to overcome the sin that seems as though I will never be able to experience growth in. For God is good all the time, and all the time God is good and that is his nature!
Praise God, Amen.
Praise him once more, Amen.