It can hurt. I don’t know if it was our last interview with Buckner for the Project Go! video or if it was just spending time with Mel yesterday that has made this aching for Kenya heavily return. When you begin a journey that you have been intellectually, culturally, faithfully and logistically prepared for, knowing still that there will be more to discover…the heart part always surprises you. No matter how many times your travel or how many people you work with or what places you visit or the locals you get to know – God sets apart incredible moments. They are not massive. They don’t scream out “remember this later!” They are small. They are glimpses of Him.
One of the questions Nathan asked was “What about Project Go! changed your life?” And in thinking back now, I should have said “What about Project Go! didn’t change my life?” Going back and looking through these pictures…they are frozen moments that have changed my perspective, challenged me and humbled me in the moments when I needed humility the most. As embarrassing as it is, I can almost start to “pity” myself when my heart starts to hurt. There is deep rooted joy that overflows through tears and there is an aching in my chest that can’t be explained. So many times I have thought, I would love to sneak into Bible Study on Tuesday morning or can’t we just spend one more Sunday in that little chapel or can we roll out one more chapati or can I take my tea with chocolate one more time? In Kenya, I am forced to be still in moments like these. Moments that may really be nothing special but moments that I can recognize, minute by minute, as precious because they were designed by Him. I can look back and remember every minute. Nothing is fuzzy. No details get mixed up. I have each piece of each moment. Some are visible and some aren’t.
“When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
You call me as Your own
You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul”
“I Am Not Alone” is one of Kari Jobe’s newest songs. I am drawn to it because it draws me into His presence and I know the people of Kenya would shout it from their souls. It’s hard to describe what these worshipers sound like. I have said this before but I really believe they sound like Heaven. So, Heaven sounds like concrete floors, shuffling feet, joyous laughter, bowed heads, sliding benches, turning pages, hands clapping and voices raised in unashamed worship and bold, specific prayer. And He is present in these moments and He is present in their lives.
It is disappointing that I even have the audacity to, almost, feel…sorry for myself. Sad that I cannot instantly return to Kenya while missing every single blessing through each phase of this journey. But it’s the truth. That’s how I feel sometimes. I miss these people.
In Isaiah 43, we are told “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom…since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you…”
This small moment of my painful longing to be in the physical presence of a people who are so focused on the Lord, for me, will pass and return and pass again. There are so many bigger heartaches that have been so quick to transform our lives and perspectives, in this year alone, that may not be so quick to pass. We must find comfort by remaining in His presence, worshipping His name, recognizing His love and being grateful for His grace.
He honors us as His children, and He loves us so He wants to build our faith.
We are not alone. He will go before us. He will never leave us. We are not alone.