I’ve always considered Africa to be female, with her mountainous terrain and lush, green rolling hills juxtaposed with desert expanses. Like a woman she has mastered the art of multi-tasking by sustaining various forms of life and ground. She is wise and ancient, she holds secrets and gives life. Specifically she gives me life. From a young age she beckoned me and I listened. Year after year I’ve traveled there. I want to say journeyed but in-flight movies and decent food take the journey out of the trip. Mother Africa fills me up, gives me purpose and confirms the ache in my heart when I’ve been away too long. It’s embarrassing, honestly, the way my Western ways are shattered when I visit. I’ve learned so much… but still have room to grow. My most recent trip was healing on so many levels. It came just as I was recovering from surgery… both mentally and physically.
Here, in the comfort of the first world, anxiety rules. It damages our spirits that weren’t meant to be bound by darkness. It creeps in when we forget and leave the door ajar. Here, I tremble while I wait for words from the doctor. There… I run free. Last year, as I spoke with my friend Amanda, Isaiah 58:6-9 came to our minds:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
This promise, written long ago has set me free. I’m free to respond to the call that comes across the waters. I’m free to speak up for the oppressed, and I’m free to trust that God will answer my calls for help. He formed this World with purpose and beauty and spent the same efforts on me as well. My Joy comes when I pursue the purposes I was created for. My Joy like the Noonday, busting forth over the mountain ranges. My soul rests in the words of my creator and my soul leaps when I serve a country that I love. But as always I return filled, taking more than I leave.
If you are struggling today, if anxiety has stolen your light… remember the things that make your soul light up. Remember that you have a creator who adores you. Be brave and pursue things that lift others as well as yourself. Your joy is waiting to rise as the noonday, to break forth like the dawn.