Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get 'er Done!

 "Get 'er done!"

This must be the unofficial theme of most of the western world or at least most of America.

The problem is, it doesn't translate well here in Uganda.  Hardly anything moves too quickly, thus the term the "African amble." 

I say "hardly" because Kampala, Uganda's largest city, teems with 1.6 million people living within 68 square miles (that's about 23,500 people per square mile).  It can be pretty crazy.  People and vehicles are everywhere, thus I avoid going there.

Oh, and the crazy taxis are just that - c - r - a -z - y.  Wailing down the road, seemingly carelessly navigating potholes and speed bumps, passing other vehicles any chance they can get, on whatever side of the road or shoulder is open. But other than Kampala and taxis, not much here moves at what you would call a "fast pace."

I like being busy.  I like accomplishing tasks.  I don't like wasting time.  So living here has taken some adjustin'.  I have learned (am learning) to go with the flow, to try and be patient, to not push but instead to wait, and to take a book pretty much anywhere I go.  I have read quite a few books lately. ; )

But busyness does not equate effectiveness.

This is perhaps one of the most neglected, but most needful "secrets" of the Christian life.

Much of our world emphasizes hard work, diligence, individuality, doggedly pursuing one's dreams and goals. 

But this intense “drive” can run perpendicular to Jesus’ ways. 

There is something to be learned from Ugandan culture – relationships always come before duties.  If someone drops by, you put aside whatever you are doing and invite the person in.  They may stay a few minutes or a couple of hours.  But as long as they are there, they are the priority.  Chores or whatever else you were doing before comes later.

Jesus also emphasizes the relationship over the performance.  For He said apart from Him I can do N-O-T-H-I-N-G.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  John 15 emphasizes abiding - being, not doing.  Unless I am in Jesus all of my doing is really pointless, it is for nothing.

Let me just say, Jesus does not encourage laziness (not doing what you know you should), but purposeful rest and abiding. 
Perhaps this is a common struggle for most Christian workers, but I can speak only as a missionary.  

Ministry is about doing, right?  Amazing testimonies, riveting ministry reports, rising numbers of salvations and baptisms – these all prove you have been busy and "effective," right?

This year I have moved beyond my “honeymoon” stage here in Uganda.  The excitement, the adrenaline, the newcomer’s vigor have all worn off.  The rubber has hit the road. I have been feeling quite empty, dry and without vision.  I also have been questioning my "effectiveness" lately.

I realize I have been trying to operate most of the time apart from my Source.  Abiding fuels ministry, not vice versa.

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’” - John 4:13-14  

 Ah, that sounds so satisfying, so refreshing.

I preached a sermon awhile ago and opened it with the following:

“Jesus does not want you to live the Christian life.”

I repeated it several times to make sure people heard me.  Poor Mama O who was my translator had to ask me if she heard me right.  I could see the congregation’s quizzical looks.  

Before they could throw me out of the church, I added: “Jesus wants to live the Christian life through you.”

Jesus Himself is the Living Water He spoke of in John 4.  I am to be a vessel (literally a “hollow container”) to be filled, satisfied, refreshed and then overflow so that Jesus (not my ministry!) eternally impacts the lives around me.  Why, I can't even fill myself!  He has to do it!  

He fills my mouth, my heart, my being - I "swallow," I absorb, I rest in Him.  He continues to pour, I overflow with His Living Water.

He pours His life through  me.  I am only a vessel.

S - l - o - w  down and drink deeply of the Living Water.

Photo Source: Microsoft.com

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