So, once again I have been taken by God back to the place of dependence and weakness and meekness and being satisfied with only Him. I am reminded of Ephesians 6, which reminds us that our struggles are against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. I should have known God was up to something when all I could think about in the early part of this week was sheep?
There are plenty of sheep here in Sudan and goats and donkeys and cows, among other animals, but these four are the most prevalent. And whenever we drive into town, we remark on how stupid the sheep are. They have no sense it seems. They wander around in the road and if our truck is coming straight at them, they just keep going in their slow pace to cross the road. We literally have to stop to let them pass. A loud blaring horn has no effect on them. They continue walking slowly on their way.
And I think, how could God relate us to sheep? Aren’t we much smarter than this? They are so sweet and meek and mild mannered, these sheep, but just seem to have no sense sometimes. Uh oh. Did I say that? This week another storm erupted on our compound and feelings were hurt, very much so. Again I was in tears in the night because of the grief I felt over the situation.
My friend Viola told me that my heart can’t contain the hurts that I take in sometimes. I have such a passion for things to be right and good and fair and when I see it not so, I take it to heart. It is so very discouraging when you see a situation yet feel helpless to do anything about it. The system remains in place and because you are a part of the system, you must abide by its rules. I really understand how Jesus kept breaking the rules and replacing them with mercy. But what do you do when it is not in your power to break the rules?
It makes a person want to just throw in the towel and go somewhere else where the rules are different. Well, it doesn’t matter where you go, the rules might be different, but there will always be unfairness and bias in this world. So how does one deal with it? No quick answers here. That’s what I am working through with Jesus this week. All week it seems as if the enemy has been tossing things right in my path to trip me up. Anything to get me into offense, that’s his plan.
We finally have power, although via generator, to our tents. Alas, my tent is the only one on the entire compound, the only one seriously, without power. Seems someone just never got to mine. And so there is light all around me and nice cool fans blowing in every tent and my little headlamp and the natural wind keeps me company. I was promised last night that someone would get to it today but no one did. The zipper to my tent has never worked and so if I did have power in my tent, I would just have a tent full of flying bugs anyway right? See, there really is a bright side (pardon the pun) to everything.
Another trip me up situation occurred, we are closing down what used to be our main base in Yei and most of the beds were shipped up here, which are really sturdy mahogany beds. Very nice. Well, as soon as the truck pulled in, people went for the beds and I never got one. I have been waiting for that truck to come so my back wouldn’t hurt so much at night. My current bed is made of twine and sags horribly. So I put planks of wood to compensate and my foam mattress is only three inches thick and squashes all the way to the boards, which are warped. So, among the rubble of what remained I found a very nice really thick piece of foam and now have a very comfortable bed. I slept great last night and love my new mattress and have decided that I really don’t want one of those mahogany beds now because it is too heavy I learned to slide outside on very hot nights. See, there is always a solution if we open our eyes and look hard enough.
Well, I am no holier than thou saint I’ll tell you. When all of these things first started to happen this week, I got a little ugly seed of offense in my spirit because I looked around at what everyone else had. Last night when I noticed the light in every one else’s tent, that little seed began to fester. And then I heard the Lord plain as the nose on my face, “Were you dissatisfied before everyone else got their stuff?” Honestly, I was very satisfied and was in want of nothing, truly. You see, we only get envious and jealous and offended when we look at other people’s stuff. I took my focus off of Jesus and started wanting what others had. I wanted my satisfaction somewhere else.
So today I went to church and I jumped and danced with the children and the men and women, totally not understanding a word of the music, but feeling the joy of the Lord because I was satisfied with Him. It just doesn’t matter what others have or what others want to do or how unfair things are around me. If I keep my focus on Jesus He will show me His way in every situation. I keep going back to the scripture of Paul’s where I am satisfied in plenty and I am satisfied with nothing. I am sitting here at the door of my tent, listening to children’s laughter as they play in a mud hole just outside my fence after a fresh rain, the gentle breeze blowing across my skin, after a beautiful day with my two Kenyan friends, Julius and John, and I am very satisfied.
So, I still spend my afternoons going for a jog with the neighborhood children and we sing all the way, I sing some in Dinka and some in English, and they repeat every word I say. We sing greetings to the ladies as they come back from chopping wood in the bush and they just stare after us and smile. Then I grab the soccer ball and we just hang out for a while. I love these kids because they love to play and love that an adult takes time to be with them and play with them. I think this is a new concept to some.
I still see the “dark man” on the road every time we go to town. I always stop to give him a drink or some cookies and I say the name of Jesus to him, trying to penetrate the haze that surrounds his brain and the demons within. I learned his story this week. Seems he killed his pregnant sister and the elders of the village cast a curse on him and he ahs been this way since. It’s very sad and I want to see him set free. I just keep showing him love as we stop every time and wait for his deliverance.
Today I sat and waited for the guys to get their hair cut and I just watched the street life unfold before me. There are more children than adults it seems and they are mostly tattered and dirty and they beg all the time or try to get me to buy things I don’t need. Sometimes I find ways to let them help me load things when I shop so I can give them a pound (money) without it being a hand out. There are many old looking women either drunk or hung over. The smells in the air are so bad sometimes, like something died and is rotting. People urinate wherever they like. Trash is all over. The horses that pull the carts are horribly abused and I looked at one today that was literally skin and bones and I am waiting for this one to just fall over dead.
If I look too long at all of this I become so sad and grieved in my spirit because of the severe poverty. And then I have to keep reminding myself to just stop for one. Just stop for one at a time. Jesus was always stopping for the one, always. The one sheep is more important than the rest if he is lost and walking blindly, ignoring the blaring horn of warning. Jesus told us to go after that one. So every day I see the sheep and am reminded to keep going after the one. And I am also reminded to remain meek and mild and totally dependent upon my Shepherd. Keep my eyes on him and not the wolf, who will always try to distract us and get us. Trust my Shepherd in all things, even if they seem unfair.
Love and Salaam Taki,