Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Follow hard after you"

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.
 I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
 On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
 Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

                                                       - Psalm 63:1-8 

I was asked a week or so back what my long range plan in Karamoja was. Or what did I desire to see there 5 or 10 years down the road? Initially, I felt a bit guilty because I don't have an answer to those questions. The truth is that right now my goal is to daily live more like Jesus and let him impact those around me. I don't know yet how Jesus will be working on me a year from now, thankfully he gives it to me slowly, but consequently, I don't know what my future ministry in Karamoja will look like.
I think, for a time, I've had the attitude that God sent me to Uganda to save Ugandans. Yet, that is pretty prideful and really not accurate. God can do anything without me. He doesn't need me here to do anything. So possibly he brought me here to grow closer to him and save me.
When reflecting on this, it became clear that with my initial attitude it is possible to keep loving and serving the Karamojong as long as I saw results. But we don't always get results. And we get to keep loving and serving regardless so it can get really hard. But if my goal is to be ever more like Jesus, I can keep loving and serving no matter the frustration or rejection or hardships.
In verse 8 of the psalm above, some translations say "follow hard after you" instead of "cling to you." I can relate to that. Some days it feels like clinging, just holding on for dear life.  But other days it is running hard, all out, panting and trying to keep up.

And I want to challenge you to mull it over too.  Some one very smart once told me (I think it was my mom) "You are either a missionary or a mission field".  I hope as you read this you know you also are a missionary.  But even as I've been journaling about it for the past weeks I know it is easy to write and a different thing altogether to live. On 2/23 I wrote... This is hard. Especially as I sit here tonight, having written all those things this morning. I had such high hopes for the day. At that time I had a hot cup of tea, a good night's sleep and a beautiful sunrise happening in front of me. Not I'm easily 4 hours past sunset and still up. I have chicken crap in my hair and no water to shower with. I've got another cup of tea in place of dinner and this time with sour milk because there is no place to get fresh in this stupid town. I'm beyond annoyed with people in a culture where "alone time" is a curse, or at least something that has to be prevented at all costs. Now living and loving like Jesus seems impossible and really, why am I even trying?! 
So, don't get me wrong. I wrote this stuff, but I know it isn't easy.  I'd like a group of people far easier to love, in a place with a lot less snakes, scorpions, thorns, dust and a lot more food and water. And I bet you could say you'd like people who wouldn't judge you for what you believe, or are willing to slow down and listen. But none of this is the point. I'm here to learn to be like Jesus. You are too. We get to figure out how to follow hard after him or cling to him, whatever the day requires. To earnestly seek him and allow him to affect the people around you. I'll be praying for you as we figure out how to do that!

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