I apologize that I have been so long away from my writing. Life has been full of work, buying furniture, meeting Nairobians, and adventure. There are so many stories to tell – and I’ve fallen awfully behind. But, frankly, I’ve taken the past several days mostly to rest – and even blogging has seemed like work to me.
I am very happy to say that on Thursday, November 13, the Lord answered my many prayers. As of that day I’ve been living with the Saint Boys, sleeping under the same roof, and eating at the same table. It seems so pitiful to give only a paragraph to this topic. But, what can I say? God is faithful! He has done that which I asked Him to do. He has been pleased to show me favor, and to honor the desires of my heart.
Currently I am sitting at my dining room table, sipping a cup of homemade chai. A gentle breeze is blowing through the curtains. The boys and I have just finished eating a delicious lunch of bread, eggs, and green grams (hat’s off to chef Brian!). Nicholas, James, and Patrick are in the kitchen washing dishes and drying. And, Julius is wiping down the table.
As I promised before, I will now resume the story of my calling. In my last post I gave the details that led up to it. But, now, I will tell you of how it is that God arrested my attention in Nairobi last June.
In my last post I wrote that on June 7, 2014 I was only “willing partially.” But, a quick scan through my journal will reveal that something inside of me radically changed on Sunday, June 8.
That morning I wrote:
“Nairobi, 9:15 AM – ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Lord Jesus, yesterday I felt so drawn to You. I felt as though I could hear you say, ‘Come, carry my easy yoke on your neck. Take up my light burden. Come, find rest.’
My heart is moved, my longings increased. Yesterday I prayed that You would make me fully willing. This morning I am not only willing, but wanting. But, how can I know if this is from You? (…) I find myself not just willing, but afraid You will send someone else. ‘Who will go for me? And whom shall I send?’
‘Here am I, Lord Jesus, send me!’
'I pray – do for these seven Saint Boys – Nicholas, James, Brian, Patrick, Julius, Dan, and Chinji – whatever is truly best for them.’
I am willing (…). Make me Lord all the more willing to do this- or anything else You want me to do. I am willing. Nevertheless, Father, not as I will, but as You will – so may it be done.”
To be honest – it was far from clear that it would indeed be best for the boys to live with me. On Sunday, June 8, I still thought that perhaps it would be best for the boys to stay with Baba and Mama D--. I didn’t want to separate them from a man and woman who might have become for them a father and mother.
Or, I thought that perhaps it might be good for them to live with another, Kenyan couple. Chris and I even pinpointed two men (and their wives) who might just be willing to take in the boys. And, I could not help but wonder whether it might really be better for the Saint Boys to live with a man and woman from their own culture.
I also thought about the potential of an orphanage. There was – in fact – an orphanage that came on very high recommendation. And, after all, an orphanage was an established institution that might have more resources and ability to help the boys than me. So, I was the last option.
Nonetheless, throughout the day the Lord continued to strengthen my sense of calling. That morning we went to Karen Vineyard Church. Chris introduced me to a woman, named Dee, who had helped found the church many years before. I made a passing comment to her that it was a big deal that she had started a church that had grown to be so large (there were probably a couple hundred people there that day). Her response struck me as quite pertinent to my own situation: “It was an honor to do this. If my husband and I hadn’t been obedient and done it then the Lord would have used someone else to do it. It was a privilege that the Lord let us do it.”
I realized that was exactly how I felt. I felt like the Lord could easily call someone else to the task in front of me. Yet, I wanted the honor of it. I wanted the pleasure of it for myself – knowing that He could easily give it away to another man if He wanted.
The music that morning also hit me between the eyes. We sang a song called “Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong. The words moved me so strongly that I had to choke back tears:
“You call me out upon the waters, The great unknown, where feet may fail;
And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.
So I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”
Moreover, that morning the pastor spoke about encounters with Christ. His message was about not neglecting to meet Jesus today. He reiterated: “Today the Lord wants to meet with you. What is the meeting you are supposed to have with Jesus today? Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!” It was as though the Lord Himself was speaking to me.
The morning time in prayer, Dee’s words to me, the worship song, and the pastor’s sermon were all like tremors – the small earthquakes that hail that something bigger – and stronger by far – is coming. They hailed that God Himself was on the way. I could feel Him moving toward me. His steps were like that of a giant. With every footfall I could feel the ground under me shake, as though it was going to give way. The voice of God was thundering in my garden. The gentle rains were growing stronger, and the wind louder. But the hurricane force was yet to hit.
That night –as I lay in bed and listened to “Where Feet May Fail” again on my iPhone - the Lord finally spoke to me in power. The hurricane winds swept over my little house and knocked it flat. The earthquake swallowed me up. The Giant stood in front of me, and dwarfed me.
Here is what I wrote on that evening:
“Tonight after midnight I was so full of emotion that I finally broke down and wept. I sat in bed, put in my headphones, and listened to one of the songs we sang this morning in worship: “Where Feet May Fail.” It is hard to identify the meaning of the tears. They were not tears of sadness. But, they weren’t quite tears of joy either. The only way I know to describe them is that they represented a cup that is overflowing. Just like when a glass gets so full of something that there is no more room – and then it runs over – well, that is what these tears were like. There was no more space inside. Something had to come out. And, what came out was water.
Then, after maybe twelve minutes of solid “letting it all out” alone, I decided to continue my reading in “Come Be My Light” (Mother Theresa’s private letters to her spiritual mentors). The section I’m in right now is when Mother Theresa is trying to start her ministry: “The Sisters of Charity.” However, she’s having a difficult time, and keeps hitting setback after setback with the church authorities over her. Finally, she breaks down and writes to the archbishop, “Your Grace, Don’t you think it is time for us to make a more fervent appeal to Rome? It is nearly four months that you sent my letter. – Why are they not answering? Don’t you think we are wanting in zeal for His work if I just wait?”
Then, just as suddenly as the tears came over me, so did laughter. I know: The text isn’t funny. But, for some reason, it struck me as absolutely wonderful and hilarious. I laughed so strongly, so heartily, and so long, that I started to get concerned about myself. I laughed for such a long time that I was afraid that I was going to wake up Chris in the next room, and that he was going to be concerned I’d gone mad. I mean, who laughs alone to themselves, sitting in bed, at 1:00 in the morning, reading Mother Theresa? An insane person – that s who! Yet, it was one of those laughs that wasn’t a response to a joke, or about something being incongruent. It was a laugh that indicated that somewhere deep inside I believe that everything actually IS going to be well with the world after all.
After a minute or two I asked myself, “What the hell is wrong with me?” And I realized that the Saint Boys had touched me. They had touched my humanity – both my capacity to cry and my capacity to laugh – in a way that it hadn’t been touched in a very long time. I realized that somehow by spending time with them I had become not just more emotional – but more human – in the process.”
It is this moment that I identify as my calling. I felt God’s Presence in a stronger way than I had in a decade. Joy overtook me. I knew that God was in my room. I could sense Him. And what was my response? After the tears – laughter! I could not contain the happiness my soul felt. His Soul was speaking to my soul – calling me to Himself.
It was not exactly clear what He was telling me to do. The Voice of God was unmistakable. But, the words – well – they weren’t as clear as I would like.
I wonder if that is not often how it is? We hear the Voice. We know it. We recognize it. But, the words…well…sometimes we wish that they were a bit more clear.
But, my job was clear. I knew that I must investigate whether it was objectively best for the Saint Boys to live with me. I decided I must get to the bottom of it once and for all. God had clearly spoken to my heart. But, now, it was time to ask Him to speak equally as clearly to my mind.