Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda 2016 Part 10

“I think I made you too small.” Those words from the song What Do I know of Holy kept running through my mind while we were in Rwanda. As we traveled to nearly every district in Rwanda, I kept hearing those words over and over. There are thirty districts in Rwanda. I’ve been to twenty. I had a lot of time to think.
Her God is BIG

At home in Boise I read Psalm 62 this morning and found a note I wrote in my Bible when we were in Rwanda. It was written the morning after our hardest day. You can read about that hard day here.

Psalm 62
God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.

Everything I hope for comes from him,
 so why not?

He’s solid rock under my feet,
 breathing room for my soul,

An impregnable castle:
  I’m set for life.

My help and glory are in God
—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
 lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.

The note I wrote says, “Kageyo, Rwanda 2016: I will not be broken. I will be a strong advocate for the poor and these dear families. I must not try to be strong on my own, because my strength comes straight from God.”

As an American sometimes it’s hard for me to remember I must not attempt to be strong on my own. I am, after all, from the land of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” My roots run deep in individualism.

In his book Embracing Grace, pastor Scott Sauls says: “Individualism is the biggest obstacle to the gospel of embracing grace. . . . Individualism diminishes us because it backs away from commitment and community. If humans are made to relate to God and to others, Individualism attacks our very essence.”

A focus on my individual self will always take me farther from God.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to let God be God, to let him be awesome and filled with love for me and great. I make him small, because I can solve my own problems. “I’ve got this.”

In Rwanda, most Christians don’t have that luxury. Their lives don’t always give them the opportunity to solve their own problems, to pull themselves up by their (non-existent) bootstraps.

In Rwanda, God is not small. God is big. Very big. He does big things. He loves big. He forgives big. When God does these same things in America, I often don’t recognize him, and instead credit myself and my own cleverness. Because, “I’ve got this.”

I desperately want to see God in all his bigness, in all his glory, and each time I visit Rwanda, God gets bigger.

I don’t want a small God.

I don’t want to read one more book telling me everything I need to know about God. I’ve done a lot of Bible studies and enjoyed them and learned and become healthier because of them, but the danger for me is in thinking I have God all figured out. Thinking, “I’m so smart.”

I can talk theology fairly well (I mean all those Bible studies. . .), yet every day my prayer is just this, “Jesus, please help me love you more. Bigger. With everything I am.”

I don’t want a small God.

Maybe we have to leave America to see a big God. Maybe we have to leave for a while to let God out of the the box we’ve put him in. When I’m in Africa, God is not in a box. He is big and he is all around me.

In Rwanda, I see a big God in the face of every friend.

Let’s make God big again and put him in his place.
Their God is BIG

What do I Know of Holy by Addison Road

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

So What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
So What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

So What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
So What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life it's name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

So What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

6 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! We must meet each other! My son Luke and I have been to Rwanda twice and so many thoughts from this series are our experience too. And I am pretty sure we had Celestin at camp IdaHaven this summer too. How we love those kids! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Shannon. Thanks for reading. Where do you live?

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  2. Thanks Shawna for these encouraging words. I would agree there is something about getting out of where we are to see from a different view what God is doing and how blessed we are in this nation. Our material conveniences can get in the way of our dependence on Him. (Your neighbor at #InspireMeMonday)

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    1. Thank you Rachel. I appreciate you stopping by.

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  3. Yep. It's so easy to be an individual (my parents claim my first words were, "Do it MYSELF!"). Thank you for the reminder that I shouldn't try to solve my own problems and make my own way. I always seem caught between the need to do for myself and paralyzing fear that what I attempt isn't good enough. If I'm letting God do for me, I have nothing to fear and will never feel like I have to do it all.

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    1. Oh, I was just telling Kevin yesterday, "I don't like group projects." My individualism kicking in :-)

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