Saturday, April 8, 2017

an afternoon in an african chapel

I do not believe that God is a God of coincidence. I think He loves details and plans as much as I do.
2 weeks ago today, I got to spend my afternoon with a group of women. African women. Elderly women. Honored and revered women. Women, many of whom have known and trusted Jesus for much of their life.  

The task before me was to teach them. To share a lesson with them. Thankfully I knew ahead of time. I actually knew even before I boarded the plane to visit them. When the sheet for trip assignments was passed around the room God said put your name down. I was virtually attending this meeting through Skype and said if that line was still empty when it came to the end, I would quickly respond to put my name there. And so, I did.
I tried to open my heart to what God would want me to share with these women. What could I possibly as an almost 35 year old woman living in the United States have to share and connect with a group of 60+ 70+ year old women living in the warm heart of Africa almost 10,000 miles away from me?

Well, as God usually does, he put a message on my heart. Then, orchestrated His plan to put the outline and stories in my path over the coming weeks. The morning I was packing my backs and putting the final things in the car to head to the airport, he gave me a vision of the calendar and what would play out back in the states while I was gone. March 19 was departure day. March 20 was a Monday, the first day of work that I would miss. March 21, 22, 23, and 24 came after that almost completing the week. Then, I realized that March 25 would land on that Saturday.  

For 9 years March 25 is a day I way up with a renewed energy. I breathe the morning air in a little deeper. My day strolls by a little slower than usual. It’s the day I found the big mass on the left side of my neck. It’s the day I was surrounded by incredible friends in a waiting room at a local hospital waiting for results of a scan that would determine my future. It’s the day I consumed a dinner of Oatmeal Crème Pies and Nacho Cheese Doritos. All those things that you expect to go with that day happened. The emotions, the conversations, the pit in my stomach, the phone call to my parents. But that night also had laughs, memories, and big ole’ puppy dog tears.

For me, that is a day that does define a lot of what filled the days that followed. But, it is not a day that defined the rest of my life. The 3,285 days that filled the 9 years since are the days that have defined the rest of my life. In those days, I’ve learned what surrender, trust and obedience are all about. I’ve come to read deeper the promises of the Old Testament and God’s conversation with a man named Abraham.

And, that was the story he asked me to share with that widow group on a cool African Saturday afternoon. You see, I stood between them and…basically nothing. They actually have time in their Saturday to sit on a porch and talk to their friends. To watch children from their village, who make up the next generation, play and dance in rain puddles while completing a came of hopscotch. They came to eat a good meal and hear a word from the Lord. Now, with full bellies and a cool breeze some did sneak in a little nap or 2, but they listened. And they responded.

These ladies make a noise with their mouths that can only be described as a yodel. They “perform” it in their worship, as their praise, and when they get really excited about something as a group. I cannot even tell you what I said, because I frankly don’t remember. But, even through an interpreter God’s promises to Abraham came through. His promises to bless him for his faithfulness. His promises to make his descendants great for his obedience and patience. His promise to make him a gateway to bless others. And, in doing so to make the name of God spread even further. 
God gave me a vision of the night sky and a reminder of the dirt we would walk upon. That was the illustration He wanted to use for those ladies that day.  
I see no greater joy in this life than to be a vessel God chooses to use to tell His story. Only God could know 9 years ago that on that day I would stand in a chapel and fulfill a dream He had placed on my heart. Only God could plan out the details and the timing of His story. Knowing that every turn, bend, misstep, struggle, and victory along that way would weave a story He wanted to share. 

March 25, 2008 has now been replaced with March 25, 2017. May we not soon forget the story of God’s fulfilled promises. 

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