I once heard an awesome speaker talking about the “meanness” of the meantime. You know, the mean time it takes inbetween conceiving a great idea, dreaming up a fantastic vision, and the final birthing of it. This in-between time is where our character gets to mature, our relationship with God gets tried and tested, and, if we are to make it one day, our roots have to shoot deep into the soil before our projects and ventures can rise high up into the sky.
That is the time when our hair turns grey. Literally. Mine did ever since I was brave enough to give away my stuff in Germany and come over to South Africa to “do this thing” and help my husband impact our town and province with God’s blessings in many practical ways. The discrepancies of “is” and “should-could be” soon got to me, lots of cultural differences to overcome and a general depression in a people who lost a lot of hope into their country, government, community, each other and eventually God.
2012 saw a lot of people go bankrupt or struggle severely. There are countless refugees on the streets and in the bushes, many of them teenagers with own children. Peoples lives seem to have spun out of control and there are few taking responsibility. To be confronted with so much need – with no one but God to turn to yourself who you could ask how to heal the world – mistakes will be made and hair will turn grey. I encountered a couple of destitute people for whom I was literally the only hope. Not always could I help the way I would have wanted to. The feeling to have failed somebody – that maybe there is a young teenage girl with her baby out there whose life might be in danger, while she could have stayed here safely with me – is unbearable.
This morning my little boy Steven, 3 and exceptionally bright for his age, started singing “read your bible pray every day, it does nothing for you”. I cannot describe the pang of pain going straight through my guts. Where did this come from? Have I, with all the planning for tomorrow and surviving today stopped making the joy of Lord the center of my life? We can not preach to our kids, we must be their living bible, their life guard and guide to a wholesome understanding of here and beyond. Time to focus on that. We can dye grey hair, but our hearts are what they are. If we want to give life, it must be visible for our children, so much so that they passionately join the chorus. At the end of the year it is high time to read my bible and pray to God to keep the flame and everything that’s good and worthy alive.
1Co 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Surviving the time when my hair turns grey because of all the pain and heartache and need in the world is only possible when I cultivate my love for God. He loves us fiercely. He wants us to love like He does. No lukewarmness, no half-hearted commitment. Total. Intense and with lots of joy.
If you have watched the movie “Machine Gun Preacher” (i would have loved to see Robert Downey Jr in it 🙂 you know how much the need in this world can consume a person. I am NOT talking about that kind of passion that looses sight of anything and anyone else. I want my children to grow up with a social consciousness, alright. But I also need them to know they are my champions, superstars and everything that’s pure and precious to me.
So while we are in the “meantime”, between one year and another, between dreams and fulfilment, we need to be careful to grow roots deep enough to support the vision, to hone our skills and protect our hearts. Africa is intense, no pastels, mainly strong oil paint in boldly contrasting colours. People say “Africa is nie vir sussies nie” – it’s not for the faint hearted. Counselors would have a feast diagnosing me of post traumatic stress disorders and whatever I guess, but in the end, who of those making a difference ever was “normal”. It is the hope that you can make a dent into the brick wall, the excitement that here, your life can matter more than there, which keeps us going.
Yesterday late afternoon we closed our office for the holidays although I doubt it will stay closed, but the thought counts. Time to relax and have some fun in the meantime!