Birthdays often cause me to be sentimental and reflective.
Last week as I marked another year, my mind went back. Not only was July 9 my birthday, but it also signified 4 1\2 years I have been in Uganda. If my memory serves me correctly, I boarded a plane in Portland on July 9, 2010 for my first and what I thought might be only one year in Uganda.
I have been thinking of the lessons I have realized and the truths I have come to embrace, especially while living and serving on an island on Lake Victoria.
1. Jesus often does the unexpected. He is unpredictable, and frequently what He does is above and beyond what one can imagine. He works in ways beyond human understanding, with a depth of love and truth that is untraceable.
2. I cannot control results. As much as I think, as hard as I try, as much energy I exert, I cannot save a soul or meet the deepest needs of any human. I cannot permanently change, control or transform another life or soul. That is the work of Jesus alone.
3. My life is meant to primarily be a signpost, pointing others to the Savior. No ministry, or outreach or service should ever be about me. It must always be ALL about HIM.
4. Human need has many layers. Poverty is not as simple or as easily "fixed"as it may seem. It is often rooted in multiple and complex layers of cultural, social, historical, spiritual, economic factors and influences. Thus there are often not simple or quick solutions.
5. Programs and activities must never replace or supersede the building of genuine relationships with others. Ministry is about extending the love and light of Christ and that is often done through kindness, genuine care, and friendship.
6. Jesus loves people intimately, completely and unconditionally. For sure He has done this for me. But as I think about the small island I live on and how insignificant it is compared to the numerous places and countless people around the world, I wonder how God is mindful of the people of Lingira Island, Yet, over and over, He has shown His immeasurable love, grace, and kindness here - in this small, "insignificant" place.
7. Jesus is enough. He moved me to a small, remote island, halfway across the world from my home, my family and my friends, away from my comforts and securities to show me He is enough. No place, profession, person or pursuit can satisfy like Jesus does.
8. Joy surfaces in the most unlikely places.Unlike happiness, which is usually found in circumstances, joy is deep-seated and can grow and blossom in the loneliest, darkest, and most forsaken and forgotten of places. Joy is found in Christ and there is no place or circumstance where He is not present.
9. Cultures are rich. The world's many cultures are rich in history, expressions of art, music dance, of foods, holidays and festivals, of parables, proverbs, and stories. And Jesus delights in each one since He is the creative genius behind them. Yes, sin has tainted and corrupted them, but Christ is working to redeem them - so that their colorful diversity and creativity will bring Him praise once again, as they were designed to do.
10. The best and most important lessons are often learned outside of a classroom. What is written here are things that are not taught, they are observed, absorbed, and most often imparted by the Holy Spirit - the world's best teacher.