Sunday, June 19, 2011

I want to see Jesus

We sat around in a circle on the tile floor and read stories about animals, about shapes, about very hungry caterpillars.  We laughed and we looked at the pictures and we worked on sitting properly and listening well.  The stories about lions and bugs and princesses were always hits, but it never failed that every time we sat down one of the children pointed at or tried to grab one particular book.  They would say “Auntie, I want that one! Auntie Sarah, I want to see Jesus!”  They would grab that book and tell me “This one!”  and ask to see the pictures and hear the stories. 

What book is this magical favorite?  It’s this beautiful book I love, that I hope they are learning to love too.  It is the one that tells me of a Hero who loves the little children and gives himself for them, a Creator who walks daily with his created beloved ones, a man who is God and who poured himself out.  It is the precious Bible.  It is a particularly lovely version of it called The Jesus Storybook Bible.  For me, it was a gift from my sweet friend Leigh.  She is a preschool teacher and must have known how much littles (and their aunties/teachers) love this beautiful book.  It is one of the most beautiful children’s versions of the Bible I have ever seen.  The kids here love it—the pictures, the way it’s written.  And more than that, they love the stories and they ask for them over and over again.  They try to grab it out of my hands because they want to see Jesus.  They can barely sit on their cabenas (bottoms) for the desire to point to Jesus on the page, to show their friends, to see this mysterious majestic One. 

We read stories of creation and the fall, of prophets and princesses, of soldiers and fishes.  They enjoy them all, but they beg for the ones about Jesus.  They want to hear especially how he welcomes the little ones to Him and how He heals the sick and cares for the poor.  They want to see Him on the cover, to hear about Him inside the pages, to ask about Him after the story and all throughout.  And how can I deny them? 

It delights my heart and convicts me—do I long to see my Jesus, to know my Jesus within the pages of His Word as much as these little ones do?  Do I understand simply the beauty and mystery of the love of Jesus for me?  Do I deeply yearn for just a glimpse of Him, for a whisper of His voice?  As much as the children love that book, I want to love it.  We always saved it for last when we read in preschool time, for we wanted to save the best for last…but maybe we should have read that first. And more.  And over and over.

I started reading it to the children at Ekisa last night.  I think it will be our bedtime ritual now.  They gathered around me on the couch and all strained to see the pictures and hear the story.  They pointed to the ocean and the mountains, the lions and the peacocks, the people and the sun and the planets, the creations of our God’s hands.  They looked at them in awe and delight.  They asked for more stories.  I promised them another tonight. And this morning the first thing one of them told me, not even five minutes after waking up, was “Auntie, want story!” 

It is such a precious story.  The song of the Creator, singing to his beloved…the love letter to each of us.  I hope I wake up and think, “Jesus, I want a story!” and that I open these pages full of life and let them sing to me and pour over me and fill my longing heart like these children do.  I want these stories to fill my thoughts during the day and make me ask questions and teach me how to walk this journey of life and faith.  Make my heart like these little ones Lord.  Let it cry out “I want to see Jesus!” and open my eyes to see and hear more and more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

home is where the heart is....

When two places hold your heart, where’s home?

Last week I got to spend a few days with my sister in Kenya (which was great, more to come on that) and as I flew back this idea of home kept popping into my head. It’s been one that I’ve been throwing around for a bit. I feel like I have two homes in a way. And sometimes more than that. Part of my heart is here in Uganda now, with bits of it with different people here and littles who have captured it. Part of my heart is in Nashville with my family and bits of it are all over America with friends and family…a little bit in Greenville, SC, a little bit in New Orleans, and all over.

As I landed back in Uganda I was beaming from ear to ear. I wanted to dance when I got off the plane…back to the red dirt and the heat and the Luganda and the craziness. I love it here!

And yet I was crying Saturday night when one of my best friends was getting married and I was here in Uganda, not getting to be there. And I miss my family and friends dearly. It’s been hard to miss big and small things in the lives of family and friends in America….weddings, graduations, engagements, hard times, good times, Friday breakfasts, Inversion, birthdays, girls nights, and just day to day stuff. It’s hard to keep in touch with people on the other side of the world…and to all of you who I have done a terrible job on that front, I am truly sorry. I’m a work in progress.

It’s hard to feel connected to people on both sides of the world, yet be living on one and try to be fully here and not pining away for there. Yet I can’t imagine living anywhere but here for now.

I love living here. I love the way that time and life are full and treasured and not rushed or full of meaningless stress. I love the Bible study I’m a part of, and walks with my dear friend Katie, and breakfasts with my dear friends Danielle and Pippin, and riding around on a boda taking in the beauty of this land, and laughing with friends here as I try to practice my Luganda with them and sound ridiculous, and just Uganda…it’s amazing! The things that are emphasized are relationships and living life fully, for here long life isn’t as much of a “guarantee” as we sometimes think of life as in America. For today, for this season, Uganda is home. I know that even when I leave a big part of my heart will be here.

If home really is where the heart is, then I guess I have two homes. Or maybe more than that. And more than anything, when I look at anywhere I’ve called home, I realize more and more that none of these are perfect. None of these places or the people in them satisfy my deepest longings. And that’s because here on this earth, nothing and nowhere will. So then as I ponder this question of where is “home”, I realize that it isn’t really here and it isn’t really there and it doesn’t really matter that much in the light of eternity….what matters is that I am in love with my Jesus and He’s getting the glory, wherever my “home” might be for the time being.

So while I sit here in this tension of feeling at home and missing being home, I turn to Him, and I know that step by step, bit of faith by bit of faith, I know more of Him. And that’s all I want.