It’s funny how two weeks can feel like two months and at the same time seem like only a few hours. That is how long I’ve been in Africa. From one country to another I have finally made it to my new home, Johannesburg, South Africa.
As the plane landed and some strangers with American faces greeted us, they took us to our flat (that’s an apartment in U.S. terms). They were kind enough to give my new roommate and I an hour or two to get settled. My mother has instilled in me a habit of being OCD, so naturally I unpacked everything I owned to avoid living out of a suitcase another day. Our new home is lovely. It is a quaint little place that provides a cozy escape from the outside world. Many others have come in and out of here along the years with the same goals as we have. It almost feels historical.
I got settled into my room by putting everything away; hanging pictures on the wall, and placing personal touches that almost make it feel like home. I have a collage of photos of people that I love to remind me where I have come from. I have a shawl draped across my bed that I bought in the Philippines, to remind me of the place that stirred my desire to travel to the nations again. I have an empty journal ready to be filled with the wonderful stories of what is to come on this new adventure.
I’m not sure yet if it has hit me that I’m here. I keep telling my team to ask me again in about a month or so. This is Africa, and this is my home. I can honestly tell you these are words I never thought I would say out loud. Africa was never on my radar. I can’t help but think that the Father knows better than I do when He redirected my path, many times, to put me here.
I won’t bore you with the miniscule details of what the first two weeks have looked like. It has been a lot of meeting new people that will hopefully be trusted friends, eating strange new foods, planes, worship, and saying goodbye and good luck to friends traveling to other places on the continent. My roommate Ashley and I are finally starting to get an idea of what life here is going to look like and we couldn’t be more excited.
As I’m settling into a new place, the Father has already begun to teach me. I began a study in a book called Hosea. It is about a man who is commanded by his Creator to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Even after Hosea marries this woman, and loves her, she still tries to leave him many times over.
In the 2nd chapter of this book it explains why Gomer continues to leave Hosea. She finds some sort of comfort and fulfillment in these other lovers. She claims that they provide her with “food and water, wool and flax, and her oil and drink.” She has a very difficult time in this lifestyle, because she is going against the Father and her commitment to Hosea as a wife.
You might have read this story and understood the comparison that is made between the adulterous woman and the tribe of Israel. Through all of their wanderings, worship of idols, and disregard for the God who brought them out of Egypt, the Lord does not abandon them. This is the same thing He commands Hosea not to do to his wayward wife.
So Hosea is obedient. He buys back this woman who continues to lust after men, money, food, and attention. He still seeks after her because he committed to love her out of obedience to God. To many of us this type of love does not make sense. We justify any desire Hosea might have had to leave, because her abandonment of their marriage made it all right for him to do the same. I mean most of us think he would be better of anyway, right?
I’m not married, and may never be, so at first I wasn’t sure what I was to be taught from this. But then I remembered Israel, the metaphors main character. I remembered the Fathers grace on a people that deserted Him time and time again. I remembered that God, especially His Son, would have probably been better off if they had just walked away from the disaster that was humanity. This thought then progressed to the church and eventually I singled in on myself.
Has my God not committed to love me even more than Hosea could have ever loved Gomer? Has he not stayed consistent in my life even as wander after the passions of this world like they will satisfy my hunger for the intimacy I was designed to have with Him?
Over the past few days in the unfamiliar I have found myself scraping and searching for things that I can hold onto. Anything that seems to give me a measure of control or provide stability I have grasped for it. Not all of these things are bad, some of them could be very good, but it is within the intent that I have realized my problem lies. I have been searching for things to cling to out of fear of surrender.
I know where I receive my portion. I know who provides for my needs. I have been bought back. So why do I still find myself doing as Gomer does and chasing after futile things of this world when there is One who desires to provide everything I could ever need.
In this new place the struggle comes in finding contentment in God alone. As a matter of fact, in every place I’ve ever been that has been the struggle. We can wander in the desert for 40 years, or run away from our first love for useless lovers, or we can abide deeply in Him. It sounds like such an easy choice when spelled out before you, but we all know that surrender is easier said than done.
So what will your hearts desire be? Where will you search for your sustainability? Will it be in your selfish passions, or will it be within the One who gave you the ability to be passionate for Him? As soon as I figure out how to have that play out in my life, I’ll be sure to let you all know. We can walk the road together. The struggle is real my friends, but I believe that the reward shall be very great.