Wednesday, October 24, 2007


For various reasons, I didn’t get to go to church this past Sunday, so I’ve been particularly looking forward to the Wednesday morning chapel service at Africa University. As I walked up the chapel steps, strains of “Rock of Ages” greeted me. Ah, something familiar.

At the end of the opening prayer, together with people from all over Africa I prayed the Lord’s Prayer. With them, I prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We prayed this while standing in a country in which that very thing is hard to come by. To pray for daily bread in a place where actual bread is scarce brings the whole of the Lord’s Prayer alive in a new way. Profound.

I’ve had similar experiences other times these past two weeks as I’ve read passages of Scripture, usually in the morning. It’s amazing how much your physical location can change the way you hear God’s words.

This morning – 2 Chronicles 7:13-15

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”

Does this apply to such a place as Zimbabwe with the problems that plague it? Are the problems here man-made? Is that different than God sending locusts? What would happen if the people of God in this place began a movement of prayer? Would he respond as He told the Israelites He would?

Last week – Matthew 6:25-34

“’For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“’So do not sorry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’”

The imagery alone of this passage reads differently for me after spending almost three months in places that are alive with flowers almost everywhere. And birds, too. And I even think of grass differently now. When we were in the village of Kisaba in the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria, we entered the church building where the Jesus Film services were being hosted. We were greeted by a floor covered with a thick, soft, light green carpet of freshly cut, sweet, sweet smelling grass. Such a wonderful, fresh, gentle scent. But, eventually that grass will get old and have to be thrown out and replaced.

And then to read the words about worry and trust while sitting at a breakfast table in a country where people don’t know how much further down they must go before they reach the bottom and begin to climb again. It already seems impossible to go lower, short of some sort of war. Yet in this place, too, somehow Jesus’ words must be true. Today and tomorrow and the next day.

This morning’s service ended with a second song, this one in Portuguese, by the Africa University Choir, filled by beautiful voices from all over Africa. I could have sat listening to them for a very long time.

No comments: