A couple of days ago, I shared a post written by my sister-in-law Deidra. She went to Africa for the first time this past summer and is now walking out all that she experienced and God showed her. Here's one she wrote a week or so before Christmas:
I woke up under an acacia tree, the wide, tear-filled eyes of a Kenyan child staring down at me. I sat up, startled, only to find myself surrounded by blood and carnage. The child next to me continued to wail and cry as I tried to comprehend the scene in which I found myself. Everywhere I looked, there was blood, gore, and the bodies of dismembered puppies. That’s when I woke up.
I stumbled to the kitchen this morning, heart pounding, mind racing. Where had that dream come from? Those images? I felt physically sick. It was only after I sat down with my coffee and began praying that God brought the rest of the dream to mind.
In my dream, I struggled to make sense of all that surrounded me. I knew I was in Kenya but little else. The child kept asking me why I hadn’t stopped the man from hurting the puppies. I answered that I hadn’t even known anything was happening while I slept. In my dream, I began to remember how I’d come to find myself under that acacia tree. Originally, I’d gone to Kenya to work in a factory. The man who gave me a ride to the factory was a fellow believer, but after only a few days of work, I found myself feeling rejected by the other workers, feeling like I didn’t belong. So I started spending my free time in the car. Breaks and lunch hours soon turned to entire afternoons, and I realized that the only time I saw my fellow worker was when he drove us back and forth to the factory. I spent most of the time in the car sleeping, and after awhile, I quit waking up even for the drive. I guess that’s why he left me under the acacia tree; maybe somebody else needed that seat – somebody awake and willing to work.
So, how is this dream relevant to anything?
Since returning from Kenya this summer, I’ve struggled with the sheer excess and waste that seems to define our culture, excess that stands out so clearly to me now – my own and that of others. Giving voice to it only makes me sound judgmental and critical, so I’ve internalized a lot of it and just come across as depressed. I went Christmas shopping for the first time yesterday, and my hours amid the holiday hustle and bustle left me in tears and feeling physically ill. It wasn’t that so many people were awful (although there were plenty), it was the sheer excess. We have so much stuff, and yet we climb over one another trying to obtain more stuff when so many have nothing – no stuff, no food, no home, nothing. But then I felt guilty for feeling critical. After all, last Christmas I’d been filling up my buggy at Stuff Mart too, equating lots of packages with lots of love. As I wrestled with my emotions, it crossed my mind that maybe things would be a whole lot simpler if I’d just quit thinking about Africa. Go back to being a good ole American. Figure out a way to take my kids to Disney World for the first time this summer instead of on a mission trip. These were my thoughts as I went to sleep last night.
Which brings me back to my dream. In it, I was asleep. I chose to sleep rather than do the work God put before me. After all, if I was rejected by man that must have meant I missed God, right? Well, by that logic, Jesus Christ missed God by mile. And once I went to sleep, not only did I miss out on the work God had sent me to do, but I also failed to protect the helpless. I was right there, under the tree, where this terrible crime was being committed, yet I slept through the cries, the terror, and the bloodshed.
That’s when I heard His voice, so clearly, as I sat at my dining room table. “You’re asleep. You’re warm and comfortable and you don’t even know what you’re missing. Wake Up!”
But what good does it do to be awake, if there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to make a difference? One person can’t stop the abortion mills. One person can’t save the starving orphans in Africa. One person can’t do much of anything on his own. But God can. He can use one person to change a life. To change the lives of thousands. But only if we’re awake. If we’re ready. If we’re expectant. If we’re willing to be obedient, even in obscurity, even in rejection, even in the uncomfortable and the unknown.
What does God require of us? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8). And while we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before Him, we are to do so with a spirit of expectancy (Isaiah 43:18-19) forgetting the former things because He is doing a new thing. If we are doing the work He has set before us, eyes open, hearts expectant, then when He shows us a new direction, we will know immediately what He requires of us; we’ll be ready to go. And we’ll obey knowing that we might never see the fruit of our labor, never receive any recognition or praise for our work. We have to let that go. All that matters is our obedience. That’s what He uses to change the world. (My pastor, Dwayne Higgason, gets credit for this part - it's this morning's sermon in a nutshell).
The little town of Bethlehem slept away a night over 2000 years ago and missed some pretty important stuff.
What are we missing while we're asleep?
To read more of Deidra's blog, visit here: http://30daysofgracechallange.blogspot.com/