Yesterday I stood inside a beautiful building with a thousand other believers. Lights flashing, hands raised, sounds blaring, we joined together in praise of the One who created us all. The one who still works miracles. The One who has not forgotten, has not let go, has not surrendered His creation.
But worship was different for me. As we entered the sanctuary with it’s four solid walls, high, vaulted ceiling and cushioned, comfortable seats, I told Lee that I feel different. Not different in a “I want to sell all we have and live in a hut eating bananas and tangerines” sort of different, though. It’s more of a, “I’ve seen God’s power and ability to move in and through His people and I don’t ever want to lose this feeling of awe and gratitude for who He is” sort of feeling.
Then the music started and instead of singing along, I cried. Not a cute, trembly chin, single tear rolling down the cheek cry, either. It was the kind of cry where you bite your lower lip hard, shoulders trembling, BOOHOOHOO ugly cry.
Kind of like a beaver. I was ugly beaver crying in church. Thankfully the music was loud so no one could hear my blubbering. But I kind of felt sorry for the people sitting beside me. I think I shot out projectile tears that showered them completely.
The words mean something different now. I hear “How Great is Our God” with the image of a family living in squalor running through my mind. I hear lyrics like, “You take our suffering,” and “I have freedom now through You,” and they are filtered through a different context.
I don’t know what suffering is.
In the grand scheme of things, I really don’t. My perspective has shifted mightily. As we celebrated Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help thinking of the mothers around the world. The ones who love their children just as much as I do, who want great things for their babies, just like me.
We aren’t that different. And yet, we are so different.
I don’t know how this trip will impact our family long term. I don’t know how it will change us as a unit or what direction it will lead us in the future. What I do know is this: The emotions of last week will fade away. With time, I will become less moved.
I won’t look like a beaver in church forever.
But the conviction behind those emotions? Oh how I long for it to remain. That’s the thing I don’t want to change – I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want it to fade with the passing of time and the continued pressure of commitments and desires.
Right now, I look a little like this:
A deer (with bloodshot eyes) caught in headlights. I woke up yesterday morning (after sleeping for eleven hours) and my first thought was, Did that really happen or was it a dream?! I feel like it went by so quickly. In the blink of an eye, eight days passed and I was a changed person filled with distant memories of sitting in a Maasai hut, helping a Tanzanian family prepare dinner and slamming Cokes with tiny Tanzanian girls.
I stumbled to my kitchen and had my first cup of real coffee in over a week and then my senses kicked in. It was real. I was there and for the first time in a long time, I came face to face with my Savior. He was dusty and dirty, sleeves rolled up serving and loving the least of these.
He was a mother leaving her children while it was still dark so that she could give them the food they needed to grow.
He was a pastor with a calm, gentle spirit laying out his vision and hope for a future that allowed the church to fully support and love their own community.
He was a young man with an infectious grin and a heart so big for those in need that he spent his days singing and dancing with them.
He was an older man, walking the dirt paths greeting everyone he passed with a grateful Praise God or Hallelujah!
I went to Tanzania with the idea that I had something to offer, as though somehow I had words powerful enough to make a difference in this world. Upon returning home, however, I received an email from someone who handed me my bag out of the overhead bin on the airplane. He saw the Compassion tag and looked it up online and eventually found my blog.
He’s now interested in sponsoring a child.
See, God didn’t need to use me at all. I’m grateful and honored that He did, but He really didn’t need me. He’s got this all under control. The widows, the children, the hungry and sick. He hasn’t lost control. He was in Tanzania long before I got there.
*cue ugly beaver tears*
Click the above photo to sponsor a child from Tanzania, or click this link here. You can also check in with the other bloggers here. I promise I won’t talk about my experience in Tanzania forever, but as I slowly begin to process a few emotions, I may mention it a bit more. Thanks for reading along and taking this journey with me…