Plastic Grocery Bags

Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit speaks to me too quickly.  The Bible says that love “hopes all things” and “believes all things” and sometimes I think the Holy Spirit hopes and believes I’m quicker on the uptake than I really am.  Ideas I didn’t think occasionally fly through my mind and I’m forced to chase after them to really comprehend them.

The best way I can describe this is to say it’s like someone chasing an empty plastic grocery bag on a windy day.  The person runs and stomps, only for the wind to carry the bag a little further, at the last possible second.  These individuals always look foolish but hopeful they will prevail in the end and land on it. Sometimes the whisperings of the Holy Spirit require me to run them down, stomping wildly.

I assume it’s the Holy Spirit feeding me these thoughts only because when I do land on them, I’m most often surprised.  Sometimes not enjoyably.

By this time I assume you know I am going to Uganda, and that I wasn’t sitting around wishing I would get to go to Uganda, and in fact, the thought of going anywhere in Africa that didn’t include pyramids and Petra was distasteful to me.   But I am going because I heard God laughing at me and telling me that he is indeed sending me to Africa.

Six months ago I didn’t love Africa one bit, and I certainly didn’t want to go there.  But I know that God does love Africa.  I have known this truth ever since I was a youth praying over my own hard-heartedness toward that place that is clearly struggling, but which I knew God created. He made it clear to me at that time that he does, indeed, dearly love Africa and all of it’s inhabitants.  Since he made it clear to me, I have not doubted his love in this respect.

Unfortunately, this did not change me much.  I have prayed for Africa over the years when I have heard about a tragedy or thought about the struggles that some or many or most of the people there are faced with.  But my heart was not there, nor was I working to help the people there in any way.  Asia? Yes.  South America? Yes.  Africa? No.

But I knew that God isn’t satisfied with me just knowing he loves the people there.  He wants me to actually love all people.  To have a heart beating with compassion and open arms reaching to help all people around me.  The desire to know people.  To have very deep and personal relationships with all kinds of people. The desire to aid even if I don’t have access on a personal level.  He desires that I care what happens and do what I can to give hope and healing.  Not just for Americans or Asians or South Americans.  All people.  God wants me to love unconditionally like he does.

When it became clear to me that I was being sent – against my personal desires for comfort and enjoyment – to Uganda, I thought it was some sort of joke from God.  He has a great sense of humor, and I wasn’t so upset about being told to go that I couldn’t appreciate his humor in this instance.  I heard laughter and I assumed I was being laughed at in a, “What do you think will happen if we add Julia to the mix?”  ”That will be hilarious!” “She never saw this coming!” sort of way.

But one day I was getting myself ready for bed at the end of a normal, tiring day of chasing 4 small kids around.  I was brushing my teeth.  I was sleepy.  I was also thinking about Uganda, and the craziness of me actually planning to go there, and I had an empty plastic grocery bag thought.  It zipped through my foggy tired-mom brain way too fast for me to actually appreciate.

felt a light bulb go on, I knew the idea was fresh and new, and I knew it wasn’t me.  I literally thought, “Wait! What was that thought?!” And I chased it down.  What my mental foot eventually landed on was this:

“What if God isn’t laughing because He thinks this is a funny joke, but because He has such a huge blessing in store for you there?”

I couldn’t contain my surprise.  Or my shock.  As tears rolled I thought about my Daddy in heaven, loving me and thinking of ways to bless me that I would never have thought of.

God dearly loves Africa.  God dearly loves me.  God wants me to love Africa dearly.  God wants to bless me, so he is sending me to this place that he dearly loves.

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2 Responses to Plastic Grocery Bags

  1. Mikolr says:

    Lovely, compelling words, Julia. It is great to hear your heart on this. I feel so many of these same feelings. I am so excited to experience this all with you.

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