Posted in Choices, Harvest, Healing, Love, Uncategorized

The Dance

Worship
No on knows what’s behind these lifted hands.

It’s been a few weeks since my last post; we’ve been in the middle of a move and if you’ve ever moved you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully, the house we moved to is a short distance from where we were, making the actual transporting of our things a bit easier. I still need to hang curtains for the few curtains I had are too short to fit the windows – I’m wondering how long I can bear leaving my few bedsheets on the windows.

I’m forever explaining myself away.

Why I’ve not posted a blog.

Why my husband and I choose to keep pursuing overseas missions.

Why, why, why do I feel indebted to explain everything away to everyone?

Romans 13:8 NASB “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

Inside I feel, as I suppose many of us do, the need to be understood and accepted. I easily concur with the above verse from Romans; the only debt I have to others is to love them. However, I want others to love and accept me and my natural tendency is to explain things away to gain approval.

What a waste of energy because the opinions people have of us can change as swiftly as the direction of the wind.

In our church here in Bujumbura, we have a lovely lady named Mama Christine Makamba who is one of our cell leaders. To get by, she farms; she works hard and shares her harvest with poorer single mothers who attend her home cell group. When they arrive at her home for meeting, she has a meal prepared for them and spends time listening to them, praying for their needs, and trying to help them find a way to feed their young children.

This past Sunday, as usual, Mama Makamba and I chatted about her group, about certain ones we want to help, and as she talked I marveled at her smile. Her joy is almost tangible when talking about her ladies and the change in the lives of her members. Her frustration also rises to the surface when she feels she’s not breaking through and making a difference.

What most people don’t know about Mama Makamba is that she is 67 years old (she won’t mind me saying so), has had 10 children and was a pastor’s wife in one of our churches. Her husband died about 10 years ago from complications of a stroke he had a few years prior. Two of her 10 children were poisoned and died and she has had to face the harsh realities of life as a widow in Africa. I can’t imagine what she has had to endure.

And yet, she has the strength to smile and the strength to love. She believes in paying that debt of love.

On Sunday, Mama Makamba is the only older person in our worship team. Everyone else is much younger but they all sing with her without regard to her age, and I think this is because she loves them all and it shows. She leads them in joy and love – and when she dances something moves in the heavenlies.

No one, besides God, knows the price she has had to pay, the price any of us have paid to get to where we are and there’s no explaining away the work of God in each of us because His grace meets us all where we need to be met. No one else, besides ourselves, can “get” what He has done in and for us and that gives us reason for joy.

I’ve decided, instead of explaining, to follow Mama Makamba’s example and dance – God knows why I’m dancing and He is the best Partner.

Zephaniah 3:17 NKJ “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

 

Posted in Healing, Love

Just Because

Today, much of the world stops to celebrate those they love. As cliché as it may sound, my husband Jamie and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1984. We were young, in love, and what better day than Valentine’s Day to get engaged? My engagement ring wasn’t expensive at all; some might say that the diamond was the size of a microchip. Years later that little diamond fell out and got lost while we were living in Zambia and I cried buckets of tears. So many beautiful memories were tied to that little diamond.

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One of God’s greatest gifts to us in life is the gift of being loved by Him. All of His gifts to us are a direct result of His love – He doesn’t give anything to us because He has to or because He owes us. He gives to us because His love compels Him to give to us those things we ask for and need. Sometimes He gives us things “just because.”

Those “just because” gifts are the best gifts. I remember about 10 years ago around Christmastime, I admired a painting of lions that I saw in a shop in Lilongwe, Malawi while we were shopping for gifts for our children. Money was tight and we concentrated on getting our kids’ gifts; there wasn’t money to buy something unnecessary like a painting. The painting wasn’t in my thoughts again until Christmas Day when the kids had been given their gifts and Jamie disappeared into another room. I didn’t think much of his slipping out until I saw the beautiful lion painting I had admired in Jamie’s hands and him smiling ear-to-ear. “Why did you do this?” I asked, knowing our money was tight. He simply said, “Because I love you.” My heart was overwhelmed that he went through great lengths to give me a gift and I was left without giving him anything at all in return. That’s the nature of love – giving without expecting anything: just because, that’s why.

There’s no way any of us could ever earn enough money to buy God’s love or do deeds that are good enough to merit His love. He loves us – just because – and His delight is to bless us and be a Father to us. We fail to understand that He loves us just as we are – warts and all – but He does! It is His love that draws us into relationship with Him and then His love begins to heal the pains of life’s disappointments that we’ve hidden away in the depths of our souls.

It may be that today you feel alone, wondering if anyone could ever love you unconditionally. Unfortunately, people will fail us; even those closest to us will sometimes fall short and wound us. Those whose marriages have “made it” know that one of the keys to happiness in marriage is not putting our hopes for happiness in our spouses. There’s only One Who loves us completely, with all of our faults and morning mouth, and He wants to be the One giving you those “just because” gifts right when you need them.

Jeremiah 31:3 NKJ The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”