Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thoughts on Ethiopia... part 1

Many of you have asked about our trip to Ethiopia. To say that it was incredible, mind-blowing, life-changing, awesome, etc etc is all just an understatement. It WAS all of those things. But it was so much more. It was redemption, sacrifice, vulnerability, humility, healing, convicting...

I've put off posting here for a little while so I could pull my thoughts together. I could write stories for days, if truth be told. But I don't want to just tell stories. If that's all I do now that I'm home, it's all been in vain. What I want is for people to see the change in me, in my life, and to be able to say why I'm different. Because, believe me, I AM DIFFERENT NOW.

This morning was my first time in corporate worship since we've been home (we took last week off to catch up on sleep and try to get over some jet lag). It was hard for me. It was too comfortable. I know that may sound odd to some of you. To explain, I'm going to share with you an excerpt of I wrote in my journal while at the Covenant Church in Ethiopia.

The Spirit is alive here this morning. I've watched the young man in front of me weep as he raises his hands in praise to God. I watched a family of 4 come in and immediately kneel. The mother seems both relieved and broken to be here- a picture of conflict. It's as if this place truly is her resting place on earth, as if she's been waiting for this moment all week long. I watched as she buried her face in her hands and wept, all the while her young daughter danced and sang in the aisle beside her.

The people here worship as if they really believe that God is listening. It's beautiful, scary, exciting, passionate, lively and ultimately it is convicting to me. How often do I sit in my pew and wait for something good to happen? How often do I walk into church with a thousand things on my mind and none of them Jesus? How many times have I felt led to lift my hands, but don't because I'm worried about what someone behind me might think? How many times have I entered into worship thinking of Holly instead of my Savior? Here I sit , a little cold on this rainy morning, watching the rain drop down onto the man across the aisle, unable to understand the language being spoken (Amharic), wondering if their bathroom has toilet paper. All of these things run through my mind and more. But the only thing that really matters is Christ glorified. And I know without a doubt that He has been glorified here today.

Here's the thing about that worship time. The people who came there brought everything they had; they brought themselves. They didn't have fancy clothes, cars, bibles, programs, bulletins, orders of worship. none of that mattered at all. They brought themselves to their Savior, broken and spilled out for the One they love. They came surrendered in their poverty, their need, their desire, their sickness, their desperation. And they bowed down to the One they know is greater than all of that. They worshiped with complete abandon, their only thought to bring glory to the Father. They came broken, hungry, hopeless, poor, in need. But they left whole, full, hopeful, rich in His grace, satisfied with Jesus.

This morning, I entered my church broken by my sin, hungry for His word, poor without Him in my life, in need of a Savior. And He was faithful, as He always is. I met God there because I was looking for Him. I came ready to worship, having put all of the unimportant things away.

My sweet Ethiopian friends taught me that it doesn't matter what our circumstances are, what our clothes look like, how full our bellies are, what our church looks like (even if there is rain pouring in the sanctuary!), or if there were crying kids in the service. They reminded me that what matters is whether of not I'm there seeking to meet Jesus. Because HE IS ALWAYS THERE, seeking to meet with me.

May I never forget this experience. May I worship with reckless abandon, the One who gave His life for me. May I experience daily the freedom He bought for me, for where His spirit is, there is freedom indeed. God be blessed.


mama faith said...

Thank you for your beautiful words! I took noticed the raw, beautiful way they worshiped that morning too. Hope today is a wonderful day!

Jo Ann said...

Your words are a blessing to me and your life an even greater blessing. I love you, Mom

Kimmie said...

a gentle reminder from a very loving Father. Glad you felt His breath and saw *church* and *worship* in a new Light.

mama to 8
one homemade and 7 adopted