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The Newness of My God

The Newness of My God

 

The wind blows my tangled hair back as I glance out the window to a world that seems so foreign to me. I smile as our small bus (which happens to run on prayer alone) bumps along the dirt road, long past the familiar buildings and sidewalks of town. It is our first day of ministry, and my team buzzes with excitement and a willingness to serve God. I spot the brightly painted buildings of Bheveni Carepoint almost immediately as we approach. They stand in stark contrast to the pale dirt roads and gray mountains in the distance. As we park, the children swarm, running with all their might to approach us. The bus door slides open, and I suddenly feel overwhelmed by love and life and laughter. Around 25 kids stand outside our door, making it nearly impossible to move a step without hands holding tightly onto your legs or faces smiling brightly up at you. I am in awe of how eager these children are to be held. So we hold them. We laugh. We sing. We draw pictures in the dirt as communication because SiSwati is a hard language for my Arkansan tongue to say and my even more American ear to understand. I feel satisfied in this moment, not because of anything I am doing, but because I serve a God who has so carefully planned every other moment that led me to this one. These children are so beautifully made in his image.

Our next day of ministry arrives and I feel the same excitement as I had the day before. We drive up but are no longer circled by the now familiar faces. We step off the bus, confused by the lack of children. Moments later, they run out of the preschool but are noticeably less excited to see us. While they still come towards us longing to be held, we are aware that our newness has worn off a bit.

Every day has been like that since. We dance. We play. We roll in the dirt and get covered in rice from the children’s sticky hands. But we are now a common occurrence. We are not new or shiny or as desirable as that first day. Each day when we pull up to the Carepoint, I am reminded of my own childhood. When I see the children, I see my 7-year-old self hearing about this crazy big God who created the lions and the ocean and the trees. There’s no way there could be a God who put all the animals on the ark and made a whale swallow this man named Jonah! I think about how excited I was to ask this Jesus who died on a cross for me to come into my heart and save me from my sins.

However, just as our novelty with the Swazi children wore off, so did the idea of following this Jesus. The older I became, the more my childlike faith faded into the distance. I found myself no longer running full speed toward Him. I lost sight of my 7-year-old self who marveled at the greatness of my God. To me, God was not as shiny and new as He once had been. God is never changing, but my fickle, human self seemed to think this meant that He had lost his luster

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

 

This month, God has been teaching me how to see His goodness and grace each day. You see, I’ve decided I will never let His shininess fade again for me. Each day, His mercies are new. My search for how I see God in every moment has become a kind of game, normally ending with me laughing and yelling with half my teammates, “GOD, YOU CRAZY!” I look for Him in everything now, and where I look, I always find Him.

I see Him in the smiles of the children as they go across the monkey bars with our help.

I hear Him in their laughter each time I tickle them.

I smell Him with the big pot of rice and veggies the children eat.

I see Him in the dirt roads and the mountainous terrain.

I hear Him when the engine in our bus tries to start.

I touch Him when I hold the hands of my teammates as we pray over every situation.

So each day when we arrive at the Carepoint, I am not discouraged by the children’s fading interest in us. I understand. I have been there. I am encouraged by my God who renews my soul each day. I am encouraged by my team’s work projects of clearing land and digging holes. I praise Him because even though we are not new to the children, we serve a God who makes all things new.

 

 

 

 

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