The lessons we teach the kids, the songs we sing and dance and the laughs the group shares with one another are absolutely real. God is fully present in everything that we do and it’s so fulfilling.
So I have spent much of my time here wrestling with what it means to live a hope-filled, Kingdom-focused life in a world that is anything but. And while I cannot say that I no longer struggle with feeling disenchanted, I can say that I have seen things and met people in my time here who have rekindled my hope in humanity.
\\ A reflection from my arrival in Darling, Western Province, South Africa one month ago //
I write this to you from my beautiful countryside farmhouse in the Western Cape. Mountains fill the background and the valleys and plains that lie at their feet are covered in the green landscape of vineyards and flocks of sheep. As we drove into Cape Town yesterday from our newly established homes in Centurion, South Africa, I was taken back by the vast beauty that the country beholds. I marveled at the mountain ranges that lead the way to Cape Town. Something of a nostalgia came over me again. Every once and again this will happen as I travel. This wonder that fills me and at times tears that fill my eyes when in those moments I can say that something is right with the world. I have so much propensity to fixate on the cruel hurt and brokenness of this world, but perhaps at times it is difficult for me to tangibly see matters of utter beauty and might. These must be the moments that fill me to endure much of what the world is hurting from. Paradox is the name of the game, and the people that roam beneath these mountains hurt with the experiences of everyday life, but the mountains in their silence are screaming forth a proclamation that there is deep beauty that covers the earth. Even in the midst of the brash actions man carries forth, the mountains will declare that there is beauty in this world. That we are capable of carrying that beauty inside of us. That even if we are not crying out to Jesus, that they will. The rock that they are made from will say aloud in their meekness, “Beauty will save the world. His name is Jesus.”
And perhaps this was a bit of what Jesus was talking about in Luke 19: 40-44:
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!”
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but is now hidden from your eyes. The days will come on you when your enemies will build and embankment against you and circle you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
On such an infinitesimal level I feel I can relate with what Jesus must have been feeling not only then, but also now. That we neglect or refuse to see the Kingdom breaking into our lives in ways that will drastically alter our state of life. And Jesus weeps. He sees that we will continue to choose lives of violence and fear over the Kingdom of life and peace. He knows that we do not understand Him. He knows that what he speaks about doesn’t make sense to us. That is the very reason it is the solution – it is so counter-intuitive to what we think we know to be reality. And that feeling of being unknown or misunderstood has to be one of the most painful things people can experience. To feel as though no one can grasp what it is their entire life has been up to a point. And on such a magnified scale, this was Jesus. Terribly misunderstood and killed for it. If the world both then and now saw Jesus’ way as the solution, I suppose we would begin to see less violence, more healing of deep wounds, compassion and love for one another.
And so, that is why in these moments of great wonder and awe of the beauty of the things that cannot speak, I hear them. I hear them whispering their cries as they look upon creation and weep with the Father that so desperately wants us to open our eyes to that which will truly save and heal. These mountains are reminders that even if I choose to turn my back on He who will be the solution to all of the pains and sorrows that I carry for hurting people and myself, they will cry out.
Shouldn’t it be now? Should not now be the time that we take off the blindfolds that we have been wearing and try something new. The pain isn’t subsiding and the suffering doesn’t diminish, but the way in which we view it all will. What can we lose? The world is already in such a hurting place, can it hurt to try to look into it with Kingdom eyes? Could it be worth it to begin to see Jesus’ way of treating people with honor, respect and impassable value to be the way out of the hellhole we’ve created on earth? Could the very flip of the current way of life, be the true way to Life? Jesus was what was bringing Jerusalem peace thousands of years ago as he rode into Jerusalem. Jesus is still what brings peace as we allow him reign over our lives today.