Mountain People

I lift up my eyes unto the hills, and where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.

My family are mountain people. What I mean is, every time we had a school holiday growing up, we packed up the gray Toyota Corolla and headed for the hills, to middle or east Tennessee, where we could hike and camp and raft to our hearts’ content.

About an hour out of Bulawayo, there is a place called Matopos. It’s nothing like the moss-covered mountains or sloping streams or magnificent waterfalls I grew up going to. Instead of bears, Matopos has leopards.  Instead of grass, Matopos has shear rock, smashed together in the most extraordinary of fashions. Still, I feel so at home climbing to the place locals call World’s View.

From there, you can see miles in every direction, nothing but bush-land and millions of rock formations. From there, my own concerns and issues seem so miniscule in comparison to what my God has done, can do, and is doing at the very moment.

It’s not a new concept. It’s not even a deep notion. It is but a gentle reminder of who we serve and exactly how big, powerful, and loving He is.

ImageWhen I lift my eyes to the hills, no matter what set of hills it is or where it might be located, I lift my eyes to see a world fashioned by a loving Creator, a God who is so big, so strong, and so mighty that there is nothing He cannot do.

Expanding the Family

You know them. Those glowing, gushing couples who just found out they are having their first bundle of joy.  They are the ones who always seem to gravitate toward the baby section of Walmart and Target, the ones who all of a sudden are baby proofing every electrical outlet in sight. 

Most of my friends in both Africa and America are in this very specific, very identifiable phase of life: expanding the family.

 

It seems to me, as an innocent observer of the process, that “expanding the family” phase is the point of no return, the point where everything changes. Baby talk becomes a second language, and all of a sudden the hobbies you once adored are stuffed in the back of a forgotten closet in the garage.

 

Even years and years later, you still recount endless tales of things that happened while your family was growing. It seems to be the most exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, and rewarding phase of life. You love more than you thought possible, and for the remainder of your life, you care more for someone else than you do for yourself.

 

Earlier today, our Partners 4 Africa team worshipped with the Nketa 8 Church just outside of Bulawayo. We worshipped in the yard of a faithful couple, and nine people responded to the message of God’s love. So we headed out to Nkulumane to baptize them and welcome them into our family.

 

When we reached Nkulumane, we were not alone. Twenty-five souls were embraced into our family today, from churches and communities all over southern Matabeleland.  

 

As Christ’s family, we only have one phase. And we live in it for our entire human lives.

 

We are all about expanding the family. When we are accepted into Christ’s grace and forgiveness, everything changes. And perhaps when we are all in heaven together, we will recount the endless tales of the grace God extended to each of us, and rejoice together for the rest of time.  

Where He Leads

Last week, I celebrated my 24th birthday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. About three years ago at a home Bible study in Searcy, Arkansas, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves in five years’ time. The devotional leader asked us to write down things that we didn’t want ourselves to forget, things we thought we might be doing, principles and characteristics we wished to keep hidden in our hearts and minds forever.

I don’t completely remember what I wrote down, but I’m sure I did not write, “Oh, and by the way, good luck with the whole Africa thing.”

In fact, I think my words were more like, “Hey, self. I don’t know where you’ll be or who you will be with when you get this letter, but I’m sure God will let you know what He wants you to do.”

And He did. I’m still uncertain where I will be or what God will call me to, but bring it on—because He is faithful. He is just. He is the lover of my soul, and every year spent with Him can have no greater purpose.

It doesn’t matter where you spend your big days or your small ones. God is there—because He saved it all.  He spoke it all into motion, and I can’t wait to keep following and revealing the purpose He has laid out for this thing called my life.

 

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Jesus Christ, Son of God. Matthew 28:20