Monday, 1 July 2013

A Cold Drink Please, Pt. 1

Summer has officially arrived.  According to the calendar anyway.  The never-ending rain has kept us indoors, exploded the mosquito population, and is now causing fungus to grow on my freshly painted deck.  Not your typical summer which should be filled with long relaxing walks on sandy beaches, cozy camp fires and refreshing ice cold lemonade to quench a thirst from the heat of the day.

Thinking of the heat, and the lack of it, brings me back to the hot, dry days of early April in Uganda.  I remember that after a day of sitting in the intensity of the equator sun, choked dry by the dust and diesel fumes, all I wanted was a cold drink of anything.  Water. Pop. Juice.  Anything cold, to quench the thirst that yearned deep inside.  Yet all I could find was room temperature water. 

We’d drive by enormous billboards with pictures advertising “Ice Cold Coke”, yet just like many things I saw in Uganda, this too was a contradiction.  Ice cold anything was impossible to find.   To survive and not dehydrate, I’d sip away on lukewarm orange Fanta, Coke and bottled water.  And most of the time I wanted to gag.

The first thing I asked for upon returning to North America?  A cold drink please.

It’s been three months since Uganda found its way into this shrivelled-up heart.  And for three months I have struggled.  Friends used to call me a prayer warrior.  I prayed a lot and though words can’t really express what happened, I could feel the Lord’s presence in my prayers.  He breathed life and spirit and love and intimacy, empathy and compassion into my prayers.  He burdened me to pray and led my prayers.  Prayer was a beautiful time with my heavenly Father.

I used to have eyes that could see wondrous things in His Word.  Each new day His Word would breathe life, conviction and truth into these dry bones, and my ears would hear my heavenly Father speak.

Uganda changed all that.  Oddly enough, not for the better.  How does one go on a mission’s trip and return spiritually numb? 

With only the rare exception, my daily reading of God’s Word has been nothing more than seeing words on a page, lifeless.  Having eyes, but not seeing; ears, but not hearing.

With only the rare exception, my prayer time has been emotionless and empty as I rattle off more of a to-do list to God (‘cause that’s all I can seem to come up with), which then bounces back down to me off the ceiling it hit on the way up.

Yet my soul longs, it cries out, like my thirst for a cold drink in Uganda.  And I’m perplexed.  How does a mission’s trip – which began, was sustained and completed by God alone – have such a seemingly negative impact on my spiritual life, my close relationship with my Saviour?  It doesn’t make sense.  I’ve asked the Lord the question, but silence has been my only answer.

I feel like the psalmist who cried, “As a deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1-2)  It takes all I’ve got and more to hear Him say, “Hope in God for I will yet praise Him, for the help of His countenance.” (Ps 42:5) and to this I cling.

Three months is a long time alone in the wilderness.  The silence is deafening.  The world overtakes this void and in my numbness I have let it.  Life is distracting.  The distractions are loud.  Life is busy and hurried and filling, yet not fulfilling and something is missing.  Something is wrong.  I cry out and get no answer and the current of life sweeps me away.

Today, I find a verse and I hear a whisper, a familiar stirring of the heart.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us....” (Heb. 12:1)

So I dig a little deeper and ask, what is hindering me from walking in the sweet fellowship of Christ I once had pre-Uganda?

Matthew (6:24-27) tells me that worrying about life will hinder my walk.  Am I trusting in Christ or am I trusting in me?  John (1 John 2:15-16) tells me that loving the world and indulging the lust of the flesh will hinder my walk with Christ. 

Jesus’ words to the lukewarm church in Laodicea are my wake-up call. 

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”  Rev. 3:15-16

Lukewarm Christianity is no Christianity at all.  And clearly, lukewarm is what I’ve become. 

“What makes me lukewarm?” I ask. 

This prayer goes beyond surface of the ceiling, reaches heaven, and there is the familiar feeling of conviction, the piercing of the double-edged sword as Jesus’ words speak clearly:

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’”.  Rev. 3:17a

Not needing Christ makes me lukewarm...........

to be continued


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