This past week doing ministry in Malaba, Kenya has been a whirlwind. It is amazing, it is chaos, but I met with God here.
We came here to minister in the different villages of the town and encourage the churches, to see what God had in store for us. I honestly didn’t ever know what to expect from each day, but each day God has brought us on a different adventure, through things we could’ve never planned by ourselves. We were welcomed with open arms by the church here- they have cooked us delicious meals each day, served us, and loved on us wholeheartedly. Kenya will be a memory I cherish. The landscape here is breath-taking, out in the villages there are little huts, animals roaming, gorgeous green hills. I also got to see an expression of heaven in the church here- pure colorful joy and unhindered dancing in worship- it was beautiful.
It has been an amazing week, here in Kenya, yet it has not been easy. The house we are staying in has a living room, one small room with a double bed, and a closet for us 11 adults and two children to use. The church blessed us by gathering some mattresses, so most of us sleep on the floor of the living room. It has been really fun being together as a team, playing games and just living life in close community. The challenge has been finding a quiet moment alone with the Lord. It has been almost impossible. Literally, as I write this: children are running by me screaming, as I hide in a corner on the floor, in the hallway. Anywhere you go: there are people, people everywhere. Even for me, an extrovert, this is challenging. What I have been craving is some simple moments of peace with Jesus, but they are hard to come by.
The main thing, that allows you to survive, if you want to survive well, on an outreach, is intimacy with the Lord. If you don’t have this deep relationship with God, it spells disaster. Without consistent time and communication, you burn out quickly, everything feels too hard, you forget your purpose, the complaints and negative feelings begin to drown out the beauty of it all. Yet intimacy with God is beautiful, it is refreshing, bringing new life and restored purpose. It gives strength and joy for a day that may otherwise be mostly difficult. It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life, but it turns surviving life into thriving. Easy answer, right? Intimacy. Unfortunately it is easier said than done: intimacy doesn’t just happen, it doesn’t happen magically, you can’t just wish it and it won’t happen by just thinking about it.
Intimacy this week was a struggle. It was chaos. The times I tried to get away with God, life happened: someone needed me, I had to plan team stuff, there wasn’t enough time in the day, someone would start talking to me, I was too tired, or the noises around got too overwhelming, before I knew it I was already doing something else. This week, I got tired. I so desperately needed more time just with my creator to re-charge, to rest in Him and it did not come easily. I had to fight hard for intimacy this week. I had to intentionally steal away to get a few moments with the Lord, and when I did get those moments, they were absolutely precious.
“The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. He leads me to rest in green meadows; He leads me besides peaceful streams. He renews my strength.” Psalm 23: 1-3
God has been teaching me here in Kenya, and this lesson I am learning translates beyond this one week in Kenya. It applies to my life in general, and it applies to yours. We need to learn to rest in Him. Intimacy cannot only be reserved for when we have all the time in the world, God desires to be with us all of our time. We get busy, we get tired, we prioritize Netflix, or Facebook, or emails. I’ll have a quiet time later turns into I’ll meet with God tomorrow, turns into well at least there’s church on Sunday. We run ourselves into the ground, trying to go through life without actually relying on God. Once we are out of energy, out of strength, then we cry out to God.
Intimacy takes discipline. It’s a battle. Sometimes the enemy doesn’t really have to attack us. We are the ones who allow ourselves to drift. Distractions take over, we lose sight of God, we let everything else pile up and then we begin to look less and less like someone who is being transformed into the likeness of Christ and more and more like a stranger.
This is not what God designed for us: we are designed for not once in a while, or a certain day of the week, but continual relationship with our Heavenly Father.
What if we did things differently, what if we actually lived out what we were created for? What if we pursued intimacy consistently and fervently and not just once in a while? What if we didn’t let the distractions and life take over, what if we prioritized and fought for this intimacy?
There can be intimacy in the midst of chaos, if you look for it. Will you look?