If there is one thing that has moved me the most being here in Uganda, is how much God is bringing me emotionally and mentally back into bible times when Jesus walked the earth. I have been moved to tears as God has pulled back the curtain of time to walk with so many amazing biblical events. I want to share with you some of these amazing heart rendering moments.
One of the first things that hit me was written a few blogs ago about the lame woman that crawled to the Empower session. That moved me so deeply that I cannot use words to tell you what God was doing in my heart. I only know that I can more deeply grasp what it meant for someone to
be lame and how their hearts must have leapt within their chest when they heard of Jesus, the One who could heal. I envisioned the Lord saying to this woman, “G
et up and walk”, and this beautiful woman having all hope restored as she walked joyful with her family and friends back to her home, praising and worshipping God. What a moment I was able to experience, even if it were only in my mind. I shall never forget it.
As I sit and read John chapter 5 verses 1-10, my tears freely fall down as read this story. I’m sure I must have read this before, but tonight it is as though I am reading it for the very first time. And my spirit is so stirred. v2 “In these days there was a pool which is called Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame and withered, waiting for the moving waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then forest, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been there for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said, Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am com in, another steps down before me.”
I can see the man in the woman at the session. To see her crawl, she would have never been the first one into the pool. She like the man in the story would have waited so many years hoping someone would see them, have mercy on them, and put them in the pool. All the years waiting, hoping and yet they have not received the miracle they have sought after. Oh, how badly I want to return to this village and carry her to the pool and see her healed. Matthew 11:5 “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them”.
Dirty feet, walking through red clay dust for hours, as they travel roads through the villages and to town. Callouses, broken skin, torn nails, flaking and pealing skin, strong stench…nothing beautiful about these feet worn by the African land.
The Lord in a quiet whisper takes me to the most personal night he ever had with his followers. The night before His death, the last supper.
John 13:4- 5, 12-16 “Jesus got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples feet…So when He had washed their feet and taken His garments and reclined again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right for I am so. If I then, The Lord and the Teacher washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as i did to you. Truly, truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him”.
I look at my worn feet at the end of the day and they are so wretchedly dirty and stinky. As I sit with them extended onto the table in front of me I see the humility it would take to wash someones feet. They would have walked through dusty, dry sand and dirt filled roads like us. When they rain would come it would turn into a clay paste that would cling to the sandals and bury into every wrinkle and crevice in their feet, like it does ours. To wash these feet would not be a dream job by any means , but one of complete humility and care for the person of whom you would be washing. When Jesus said to do as He has done, it wasn’t just about washing feet, it is the heart of serving others, helping them even when we have to get dirty ourselves. It also taught me the humility one would have had to have to let Jesus wash their feet. I too might have responded like Peter, ‘Lord, Do you wash my feet?”..it wouldn’t have seemed right for the Son of God to wash my feet, but now I see…It is not only something we do for others, but something others will also do for us..humility…a lesson to be retaught and walked in as we love and serve others.
Again this morning, the Lord opened my heart to see into the eyes of the woman at the well over 200o years ago. I had walked up the road to meet some women who would be showing us how to make Cassava chips. It is a root that they cut in strips and the fry in oil and sprinkle with salt. The kids love them very much. While we were sitting there this morning visiting, women carrying their jerry cans filled with water, walked down a foot worn trail. That’s all it took for the Lord to bring me to the well. The women were laughing and talking as they went along. I then saw, not only from reading what bible commentaries have told me, but through listening and watching, that it was about more than getting water, it was about time together to connect and share, to find out about each others days and families. They go together to get water, not because they have to but because it connects them to one another.
The woman at the well. Her story now touches me in a different, deeper way. Her way of life or others judgements about her, had left her out of the morning draw for water. Living in Uganda we understand the delight when you wake up to the cool mornings. You feel refreshed as the cool breeze moves about you as you go about your morning chores or bible reading on the verandah. Walking for water at this time of day with friends and family would be a wonderful way to start you day. We also know the scorching heat of midday, the sixth hour, high noon. It is so hot that sweat rolls down your back when you are just standing still. There is no reprieve from the heat inside or out as you try to hide from the 99 degree heat. You cannot cool down only find shade and wait out the afternoon as so many do. I cannot imagine the loneliness the Samaritan woman must have felt each morning as she heart the other women bustle to get ready to head to the well. As they laughed and chattered their way down the trail. Longing to be with them, but hiding away. Then when they are all resting in the shade, she goes out by herself in the intense heat, walking the trail in silence, as they watch her fade into the landscape. She had to be drenched in sweat as she fought the midday sun to get water, dirty, tired, exhausted, humiliated. Then…
John 4:7- picks it up from here..”So Jesus came to a city of Samarai, it was about the 6th hour (midday..or noon). There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus says to her, “Give me a drink”..Therefor
e the Samaritan woman says to Him “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans). …Jesus then offers her living water..her response shows the heart of what it is like for her to get work. He says to her that whoever drinks the water will never thirst again. What good news for her and her situation. No more humiliating walks in the exhausting heat by herself each day. She says to him, “Sir give me this water so I will not be thirsty nor com all all the way here to draw.” I can now see the pain in her face as she would ask Jesus to please take away the need to come each day to the well where she would face so much pain and rejection…After she talks to Him and finds out the He is the Messiah they have waited for, she leaves her pot and runs to tell everyone of the man who know all her sin and loved her anyway. She no longer cared about the water she had come to get, for she had been set free for she had been offered and had received the living water. I, with new eyes can see the delight in her eyes as the relationships are restored and she is now apart of the journey to the well, with the woman, all together as one. You can almost feel her joy as she runs from the well to tell of the Savior that has poured out his grace and forgiveness on her. I smile as I type this because I can see her smile now..and my heart rejoices.
Today, I have been given eyes to see, to see times that were so many years ago. I have laughed, I have cried, I have prayed, I have questioned. I have sat speechless as I quietly poured out my heart to God asking questions yet hearing no answers. I sit in a gazebo with a top made of grass intricately woven together with rope and sticks so we can get out from under the scorching sun. We visit with a family we have just met, they run Gods Glory School for elementary students. I hear in the background a moaning, and clucking sound along with many throat noises. I turn to find a young woman, the mayors daughter, randomly making noises, convulsing, twitching, throwing things as she minds her own business, yet staying somewhat near to us. She carries her chair and sits it near to where we are gathered, yet at a distance so we feel ‘safe’. I watch her as she moves so rigidly, and as her arms move of their own accord, almost surprising her at times. Her head throws itself backwards as she catches it, and straightens it back up again. I wonder what has happened to her. Has she been in an accident? cursed? born like this?
God takes me to the the place of the Mark 9:25 “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying to him, You dumb and deaf spirit, I charge you, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” As God took me to this place, I watched her ever more closely, as my heart agonized over what it must have been like for the father to watch his child, every day, be trapped by the spirit, making his son mute and deaf and harassing him so. I wanted for her to be free. I wanted to walk up to her and call out the mute spirit that has bound her lips. I wanted to see her set free like the boy that Jesus touched that day so many years ago.
As I watched her body move without her permission, she turned around and our eyes met. I instinctively waved. She started to walk towards the group of us, still gathered under the gazebo. I quickly turned back around, not sure what she would do next, and sorta hoping she would just turn back around and return to her chair. I could feel her getting close to me from behind, so I turned around, to find her right at the wall behind me. She looked at me and said, “Hello, how are you ?” She seemed have clarity of mind and control of her body and voice. It was like when she saw me wave she came back from wherever she goes to. I don’t know what happened when I waved but for a moment she was whole. She immediately returned to her prior state, after shaking my hand, walked away slowly to her place off to the side as she threw things in the air, called out all sorts of sounds and noises, and twitched uncontrollably as her head slammed back over and over again. It wretched my heart.
I cried out to God as I sat tonight in our house rethinking what I had witnessed. I don’t know what the Lord is fully trying to teach me. I do know that the bible has become more alive to me than it has ever been. The people are no longer characters, but they now have faces, feelings, families. I am moved so deeply by their stories. I am quietly being taught the heart of Jesus, as he reached out to the least of these, to restore them, make them whole and set them free both physically and spiritually. I rejoice as if I was there watching Jesus heal them, I feel their freedom and their joy and the life they have been given back. I cannot help but rejoice with them. Yet I suffer with those whom I have seen who have not yet been set free. I cry over them because God has come to set all men free and I want them to be set free also. So I cry out, my soul cries out…and I worship our God who is good, all powerful and sovereign…as we sing this song in our living room together, tonight, in the red soil of Uganda Africa. Our God is the healer!