We have one more night of the Festival and one week from today I leave this beautiful country that has been my home since August 2010. For some of you that's nothing compared to the time that you have spent in Liberia (or other third world countries), and for others of you that's way longer than you could ever imagine or desire being in a third world country.
There are many beautiful and inspiring memories I am taking with me on this next adventure; from hiking for Jesus and holding precious malnourished babies to watching thousands of Liberians worshiping together at SKD stadium. Yes, I do consider rest and recovery just as much a part of God's adventure; in fact, if we claim to love Christ, rest is a commandment not just a novel idea.
I have been so convicted lately by God's commandment from Genesis to Hebrews to rest in the name of the Lord. It's so easy to busy oneself to the point of inner turmoil, emotional exhaustion and physical detriment for the sake of the cause or "ministry." God calls this idolatry and hardness of heart- No really, He warns us against such things, and reminds to us warn others. In Hebrews 3 and 4 He says that many people in Scripture who don't enter His rest, don't enter because of their unbelief and disobedience of this command. He also doesn't expect us to convict ourselves but says that the Word of God is what is the active agent who shows us our thoughts and intentions for why we serve, and why we don't rest- it's rooted in pride, self-reliance, and disobedience. That's been hard for me to swallow but I'm so thankful that God allowed me to do this type of work to really understand how this unbelief through not resting can eat away at us, and even twist our view of theology into something that looks a lot like achievement or performance theology to make God and others happy.
Once again, that's exhausting and it's far more than that- it's idolatry.
I have been reminded of God as being the Good Shepherd- the one who leaves His 99 sheep to run after the one lost sheep.
God hasn't forgotten any of us, and He has certainly not forgotten Africa, or Liberia.
He doesn't look at any one person or Nation as a lost cause, and no one is beyond His reach- there are none who deserve forgiveness and yet there is not one whom He will reject who calls on Him in repentance.
I have seen His steadfast love in this country, and He has been teaching me to walk in this steadfast spirit.
I have seen Him as a God of hope, as one who restores amidst even the most ugly and devastating of circumstances.
I have felt Him as a God who is near to the brokenhearted, as a comforter in time of need, as a redeemer and a friend.
I have followed Him as a God who promises to expand our borders, to do more than we could ever imagine, to lead us in something new and even better than that to make us something new!
I have known Him to be a lover and a healer- a God who restores, who tears down so that He may truly rebuild and make beauty out of ash heaps (and He does, He really does).
He's a God who never gives up, never walks away, never leaves us in despair or without hope, and He's a God who always finishes what He has started!!
We tell God thank you o, I tell God thank you.
Maybe after I've processed some I will share about the festival and its impact on Liberia. For now, let me just tell you, that as I watched these 13 small kids perform this drama in front of 30,000+ kids, I realized something deep down in my heart... their message was for me! God used me as a drama director and a writer to speak a message to my heart that perhaps I needed to hear more than anyone else. And the message...
"God wants your heart Debbie Sue, He wants all of you, and He doesn't want you to change one thing. He wants you to bring your real heart to Him no matter how it looks, and He wants to be the One to change it and heal it- over and over again He wants to heal it." Perhaps this message is for you too!
I have loads of pictures and videos that I can't wait to put in an artistic package for those of you who want to see a glimpse of God's Story here in Liberia. I also know that God's timing is perfect and when our aim is to please Him, He will lead us forward and guide us continually into new life for His Name's sake. So thank you for partnering with me on this incredible adventure thus far, and I'm so excited that this is just the end of the beginning :)
Hopefully I will write again here and there before May, but until we speak again, may God bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you!