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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

story: chapter two.

word of the day: story \str-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.

It’s hard to miss God in a place like Africa.  The natural beauty that surrounds you is enough, at times, to take your breath away.

He’s in the waves as they roll along the edge of coast.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it.  
Psalm 96:11

He’s in the shifting sands of the Sahara desert.
Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
Jeremiah 5:22

He’s in the hazy sky of a setting sun.
 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

He’s in the plants that bring life to the desert.

 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
Isaiah 35:1

Every story needs a good setting.  I always try to push my students’ thinking when it comes to setting.  It’s one thing to identify the setting; it’s an entirely different thing to analyze how the setting affects the mood and themes of the story.  Setting is bigger than just a place.  For me, the setting is bigger than just Africa

It’s a lofty task to put into words what you’ve learned about God.  And so, the best way I can think to put it is that I’ve realized that God is the same.  The God of the desert dunes and crashing ocean waves is the same God who resides among the corn fields of Iowa.  The setting of Africa has reminded me that God is everywhere.  In the big, in the small, in the parts that barely cause you to bat an eye.  His presence fills every space, and I have only to choose to let that presence continue to permeate my life.

I think there is something to be said for being content with your setting.  For looking at life and finding ways to serve in the here and now.  I think in the past I would have used that as a justification to stay comfortable—the idea that God also needs people in America.  Coming back from Africa, I see the tendency to feel like you’re not really being used unless you’re in a part of the world that few choose to go.  Unless you’re doing “big things.”  Now I see that there’s never really an end to the story (more on that next post), and if you keep your hands open, you’ll have more opportunities to serve than you can hold onto.  It’s not about excuses for staying put; it’s about openness to where God has you and wants you.  I understand that now more than ever.  I imagine He’ll pull me out of my comfort zone again someday, but for now He needs me to serve where I’m at.  

God does big things in Africa—there’s no question about it.  But the same God of that desert has me in Des Moines, Iowa for the time being.  I can choose to long for the day when I can do “big things” again, or I can choose to love that kind of love that drops everything to meet your present need.   To let the God of the ends of the earth meet me where I’m at right now and help me take it one day at a time. 

I hope to hold on to the latter in whatever country or culture or setting God takes us.

1 comment:

Chelsey Pederson said...

You leave me inspired once again friend - well written. Thank you for allowing God to work through you!!! In your comment about God's presence filling every space, I was reminded of some of the lyrics from 'Times' by Tenth Ave. North: "My love is over, It's underneath, It's inside, It's in between."