In a few days, my son and I will be leaving for Tanzania to provide a week of Vacation Bible School for the Tanzanian children. Let me first clarify by saying that this was not my idea. It was my fourteen year old son’s idea. Everything about this trip is so far out of my comfort zone that it is comical. Literally everything. The flying, the vaccinations needed (because I hate shots), the possible malaria carrying mosquitos, wearing skirts everyday (because I don’t wear skirts….ever), and everything else that resides in the realm of the unknown and uncomfortable.
But, there is a miracle in this story….I cannot wait to go! I have such joy and peace about this trip that the only plausible reasoning for that can only be God. I always thought that I was not a “mission” person. I can serve Jesus and further His Kingdom here in Johns Creek, Georgia, right? But, when God calls, He also provides and He equips. Apparently, I am in need of some sanctification that can only take place across the globe, and I am completely okay with that, because I have learned that surrendering to God is one of my very favorite places to be. When I surrender to God, He is in control instead of my white-knuckling wrecking ball self. When I surrender to God, I am much more likely to walk as Jesus walked and abide in Him.
Our team verse for this trip to Tanzania is 1 John 2:5-6. “But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” So, how can I walk as Jesus walked? How is it possible for a sinner like me to walk like Jesus did? After praying about this through a team devotional, I believe the answer is to have a broken heart. A broken heart is a humble heart. A broken heart is a compassionate heart. A broken heart is a receptive heart. A broken heart is a heart that is eager to serve His people and lay my rights down at the feet of Jesus. A broken heart is a heart that is much closer to becoming like the heart of Jesus. My friend and team member sent a note out to our team saying, “I want Him to break my heart in order to recapture my heart.” Yes! Is this not what all believers should yearn for? For God to capture our hearts!
We live in a culture that is so busy and distracted that we rarely, if ever, slow down and let God take hold of our hearts. His Word tells us over and over that the humble heart is what Jesus is after. Is it possible to have a humble heart without a broken heart? The Bible mentions the word “compassion” nine times in the New Testament with six of them referring directly to Jesus feeling compassion for the people He was interacting with. The Greek word here literally means “deep empathy”. Jesus uses the word compassion to describe the love of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son and He also uses this word to describe how the Samaritan felt towards the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is interesting that in all but one instance in which the word “compassion” is used in the New Testament, Jesus is the one modeling compassion. This is how He walked. His heart was broken for the people He was serving and interacting with. His soul was deeply moved.
In order to serve others with genuine compassion and mercy, our hearts have to be in a humble broken state. When our hearts are broken a little, God can pour His truths in and they seep into our soul. When we have hardened prideful hearts, God can still pour in, but there is much less absorption.
Abiding in Jesus means remaining in Him. It means to stay the course and not wander off. Oh, how I can be a wanderer! John 15.4 says that we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Him. Bearing fruit is many things, but one of them is serving. I cannot serve well unless I remain in Jesus because once I take my eyes off Jesus, my serving becomes self serving as well as for my glory instead of for His glory. If I am going to reflect Jesus, I have to remain in Him without wandering and this is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit! Do you know what happens when we bear fruit as a result of abiding in Jesus? Joy! Unspeakable joy!
This trip makes me feel out of control on so many levels, but my joy is boundless because I know God is in control. He has provided. He has equipped. He has brought me to a place of surrender and He is teaching me to abide in Him. If I say that I follow Jesus, I ought to walk like Jesus walked with a humble, broken, compassionate and joyous heart….even if that means walking the roads of Tanzania!