On New Year’s Day, I was snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. My first peek at what was under even the shallowest places, brilliant and seemingly excessive extravagance, took my breath away – which is awkward when you’re snorkeling.
In January, while I still had those goggles on, Jesus called me to go deep with Him and His children in 2013. To dive into the places I couldn’t breathe without His breath, and see the extravagant, beautiful love crafted just below the choppy surface.
Standing in the place where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean and they wrap around South Africa, I was awed at the invitation to live in the deepest Truths and heaviest, holiest glories with this God. His vibrant design doesn’t stop where our eyes and our lungs do. But something about those deep, glory-hemmed secrets are for us.
A week later, I was back to hospital and home visits. Immediately after changing from my swimsuit to pre-stained, culturally appropriate clothing, I held screaming, bleeding, suffering babies who couldn’t escape pain. And I found a child who ran away, only to return them her to a house where she weren’t welcomed. And I spent a night with her in a trauma center being flogged with statistics about stories and faces that have come through that trauma center this week, with girls in circumstances just like hers. That was all in one day.
And it seems like those days haven’t stopped. I’ve held more children than I can count in that hospital ward. I’ve met the social workers and seen broken justice firsthand. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to measure in the trauma center. I’ve been the advocate for placing two children in foster care. I’ve been asked to take children home with me. I’ve been accused and lashed out against by hurting, angry orphans, fleeing from the somehow scary security of His Family.
He said go deeper.
I feel like I’m in over my head.
But I have a feeling this isn’t exactly what He was talking about.
I know He ordained these relationships, these people. It’s a gift to be welcomed into to most painful parts of lives with others, to be able to bring some love and some hope there. Somewhere among bandage changes and broken hearts, the deep part I dove into was the circumstances.
My five senses scream.
I see poverty and broken bodies.
I hear agonizing cries and angry shouts.
I smell infected burns and dirty bodies.
I taste my own tears and whatever I can whip up in my meager kitchen to feed them.
I feel dirt, sweat, snot and pee (not my own) clogging every pore.
Can I get any deeper than this, God?
And He says I’m still on the surface.
It’s ultra-choppy here. And I’ve completely exhausted my heart, mind, emotions, and body by trying to keep myself from sinking. Honestly, I’m not sure how much hope and joy I’ve been carrying to His most precious, chosen children. I’m not sure how much I have left.
My five senses scream, but He says to close my eyes and see. To cover my ears and hear.
“However, as it is written:
‘What no eye has seen and no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’ –
the things God has prepared for those who love him -
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
I’m begging and I’m searching for “the deep things of God”. The things below the circumstances that are pulling me under. “The things God has prepared for those who love him.”
For the children in that hospital ward.
For the 5 children, 14 years and younger, raising themselves in a shack on the side of a mountain.
For the family whose house just burnt down.
For my NaNa in America who just keeps going back for biopsies.
For the little boy singing “itsy-itsy spider” on the couch right now with no idea that his dad will be showing up any day to try one more time to get himself a birth certificate.
And for me – who just can’t seem to find His joy.
He promises something deeper. He’s calling us there.
Because circumstances never stop.
But joy is a constant. Joy is a promise. And joy comes with closed eyes, closed ears, and the only reality we can hold onto for eternity.
I’m here to confess to you that I’ve been living in the wrong deep and the wrong reality. I’m gasping for breath just to keep going, much less inhaling surrendering, holy joy.
“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”
2 Corinthians 2:12-13
Jesus Christ died for us – to finish joylessness. To finish circumstances winning. To overcome suffering, death, poverty and brokenness on eternity’s timeline.
He’s coming back to cancel out these circumstances forever. For the ultimate and never-ending joy ride. Today is just today. Eternity is our hope and our promise.
He says we don’t have to wait for the joy. Hoping and believing in what’s to come is enough to complete our joy. We just have to close our eyes and see, and close our ears and hear. We just have to believe in the most real reality… the one we were designed for by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The most real reality of our spirit and not our five senses.
I know that. And I struggle. We don’t get to choose our flesh, and we have to choose His Spirit.
Spirit, we need help. I need help. I wake up every morning and choose you. And then I get lost in an explosion of senses…of what they call “reality”. Help me. Please, please help me shift my reality. To live in and to dive into what’s real. Help me to see and hear today with glory-filled senses, from the reality I was designed for. Heaven, come with me, come in me, and come through me today. Amen.