Beauty in the Slum
I awake to a bright dawn in Mbale (ok maybe not as early as dawn :) and then I spend a few lovely hours being with God reading and journaling. I am incredibly spoiled. I am loving this brief time of rest after the intensity of Mozambique and before the craziness of Gulu. I wonder how often we allow ourselves the pleasure of being a minister to God versus a minister to the world or how often we just settle into a feeling of complete acceptance without having to DO anything.
"A friend of God enjoys the favor and acceptance they already have and uses it to spend time with Him." -Bill Johnson-
As much as we might think this is laziness...waiting on God is an active thing, it is a choice and it is one that costs us something—mostly the approving gaze of the world. How much do we operate out of the fear of man and what man thinks vs caring what God thinks. What is HE after in our souls? Does He want our offerings of all that we “do for Him” or does He just want us. All of us.
I woke up yesterday and opened to this verse: "But the King (David) replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it (the threshing floor to build an altar to God) for I will not sacrifice to the Lord God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and he built an altar to the Lord there. Then, the Lord answered prayer in behalf of the land and the plague on Israel stopped." (2 Samuel 24:24)
There is a slum here called Namatala.
Like most slums, the poorest of the poor live here. They have little access to education for their children, to medicine, to clean water...to hope. Many will live and die in this place and will leave their children to do the same. A few years ago JENGA started coming in and offering basic necessities for life along with the love of God, but gradually it has grown into a spiritual spring in the desert. Last night I went to a humble worship service on a Wednesday night where the voices of young children are heard leading songs to God. Their voices are strong and brave against the thick darkness of a night without stars or power. They lead the few adults there into a clearing of joy. They are honored, to have us, the mzungus, come to their service, but I am more moved to be there because I can actually feel the touch of God when they dance.
And I realized that it costs something. It costs to have joy in the face of no school fees for school, a parent in the hospital, a future that often looks bleak. It costs to have faith amidst despair. Belief in the middle of deep personal needs unmet. In their voices, the offering. In their rejoicing, a laying down of their life. In their dance, a whirlwind of hope...and God’s pleasure. Because they get it. They get that this is what brings a smile to His face.
This place has been prophecied to bring revival to the whole of Uganda. This tiny village of cracked walls and torn clothing. This place where God will use the weak things of the world to shame the wise.
I go back home and wonder what have I given God lately that cost me something?
How much do I give to him that which actually requires no change on my part. How many pieces of my life will I lay down only to cling to the part most precious to me.
This is where the real faith begins...
This is the setting for the extraordinary...
This is the beginning of answered prayer.
My whole life...an offering.
A season of springs.