January in Nosy Be… rain falling, rice growing, and language learning. We have been told that January and February are miserable here, with nothing but hot days interrupted by thunderstorms. But being from Texas… these “thunderstorms” have been only an enjoyable daily refreshment; taking away the heat and helping our recent landscaping adventure take hold and flourish.
Recently, Rebe had a devotional published as part of a booklet for MTW’s Global Missions Conference. You can purchase “The Journey” devotional booklet here: http://www.mtw.org/Pages/RESOURCE_Devotionals.aspx
Here is her contribution to “The Journey”…
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30).
Last year, while on home ministry assignment in our comfy, first world home, there was a conflict in my heart that left me with a sense of discontentment at the end of every day. Like a toddler needing direction as he learns to walk, I longed for the LORD to direct us in our calling. I said to myself, “When the LORD gives us a clear path, and the confusion regarding our mission calling is resolved, then the conflict in my heart will cease.” A year later, I find myself standing on fertile soil in Madagascar, Africa, a few miles from the town of Hellville, ministering among a tribe bound to the worship of their ancestors. Yet the conflict in my heart still remains.
Our living conditions have drastically changed, and while we face the daily challenges of no electricity and running water, we live in the village among vibrant banana and pineapple plants, wild vanilla vines and coffee and cocoa trees. Our Sakalava neighbors are teaching us their language and culture, and we have confirmed for ourselves that learning this language is an absolute necessity if we hope to better understand the way our new friends view God and the world. This is no small task and comes with both great sacrifice and (with God’s help) fluency in the Sakalava dialect.
As I travel between different languages and cultures, the LORD is gently showing me the sin of my heart. My failure to rest contentedly in His faithfulness, timing and plan, both in my home culture and abroad, is becoming clearer to me, and I am ashamed of my weakness. But in this weakness, Jesus carefully picks me up, washes the soles of my feet and sends me boldly onward to persevere, in Him and the hope of His glory. A “perfect imperfection” is one way of describing the conflict that remains—“imperfect” left alone in sin—“perfect” in union with Christ’s death and resurrection.
Learning to live in the village requires that I take notice of what is happening with my neighbors, the life of the community and the rhythm of their responsibilities. My desire is to join in that rhythm and share the beautiful perfection of Christ Jesus’ amazing love with our Sakalava friends. While God seeks to completely sanctify my own restless heart, He also has plans to stretch my heart beyond itself to a people and place that desperately need Him.
What conflict in your heart is the LORD calling you to lay down at the cross? For His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. No matter where you are on the journey, rest for your soul can only be found in Him.