Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Walking Close to My Example

The little boy's face haunts my thoughts.

It was a clear, crisp morning from a rainy weekend.  The dry sand drinks deep.  Sweet breezes, blue skies, sunshine.  I didn't want to get out of bed that morning, but I'm glad I did.  I had already decided in my mind the night before that I would go for a run in the morning.  I must stick to my commitment.  Exercise has become an important part of my daily activities.  And I didn't want to "slack off" just because we had the day off of school.

I hiked my skirt over my shorts and pulled at the laces of my tennis shoes - my classy missionary look.  My mind wandered to the day's events.  All over the country, thousands of rams and sheep covered the streets - first alive, then quite dead.  Blood washes into the streets as throats are sliced, rams and sheep sacrificed.  And for what?

For the past two years I have taken time to view the celebrations.  Traffic is quiet on these days because there is too much celebrating to do for locals to be on the road.  A quick drive through any neighborhood in town is enough to give you an idea of what it might have been like in Moses' day.  I do not envy the priests who made sacrifices on behalf of the people.

But this day was different.  Unlike the past two years, I had no desire to once again view carcasses stretched out on wooden poles, leaning against a small fire.

As I passed my neighbors on my walk to school, I secretly hoped that the 9 or 10 sheep inhabiting the roadside and yard for the past week or two would still be alive.

They were.

I finished my running, thankful for the space and time I had to clear my head and be before the Lord. Two men wearing all white came through the gate.  "Bonne fete!" I halfheartedly called to them as they smiled and waved.

I quickly made my way home by way of the street I walk a thousand times.  And though the family continues to gather and the celebrations bring them much joy, I can't help but feel a lump in my throat as I watch a little boy trot closely behind an older man, trying desperately to keep up.  No more than 5 years old and dressed in his best, he used one hand to steady a prayer mat on his head, mimicking the man he was trying to follow.

My heart aches for this little boy - who has no control over his circumstances.  No control over where or into what family he is born.  He is lost.

Aren't we all born lost?

Just as that little boy reflected the actions and example of his elder, I pray that I look like the one whom I follow, Jesus Christ.

Later that day, I walked outside after dinner at a friend's house.  Smoke filled my nostrils and all I could think about was the thousands of rams being slowly roasted over open fires that night.  The air was thick and the smell potent.

I want to be the "aroma of Christ" to those around me.  Though my language skills are not nearly enough to have deep theological conversations with my local friends and neighbors, I am able to live a life that shines the love of Jesus.  And that's my prayer.

For eyes to be opened and hearts to be softened to the love of God.  My prayer is for the darkness to be lifted and for the miracle of redemption to be embraced.  I long to see these people free from bondage, to be free from oppression and shame and a works-based mentality, as if salvation can be earned.  Please pray, too.

God, give me grace as I find you in every situation.  Give me peace as I wrestle before your throne in prayer for the people of this African country you love.  And help me to be a light in a dark world.

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