I went this morning to get my yellow fever and typhoid vaccinations for our trip to Uganda in September and realized that this trip is finally just around the bend!! I am beyond excited for this opportunity to meet all the precious children and widows that God will put in my path. I know that God has opened doors for us to be on this trip in September and that He has things in store for us that we can't even begin to imagine. I've dreamed of being in Africa for so long that now I'm on the brink of this trip I find myself experiencing something I didn't expect - fear.
Yes, I'm scared. Oddly I'm not anxious about my safety or experiencing a different culture or the horrendously long plane ride or the snakes. :) I'm scared of what I am going to see - what my eyes are going to take in and how my heart will be shattered into a million little pieces. In my mind I think I know what it will be like to visit entire areas where there are young children left alone to care for their siblings with no one to help them. In fact, I just saw a picture today of a four year old (same age as my Lily) with his seven month old brother on his back. They have no parents and no one to care for them. I was moved to tears and that was just a picture. What happens when I see these children up close...when I hug them, when I know their names and stories, when I tickle them, when I laugh with them, when I have to leave them?? How can I possibly leave them there alone? Here's where the fear creeps in. I am going to be wrecked. I've known this from the beginning but haven't really allowed myself to think about it until now.
I've been praying for months now that my heart would be broken by the things that break the heart of God. God has been answering that prayer but I know it's about to go to a way deeper level come September. I welcome it, but I have a sense that this trip will forever redefine life for me. I won't be the same - and I think that's the point. I think that when we are moved to compassion we get in touch with what's at the very center of the heart of God. All throughout scripture we see Christ having compassion on those He ministered to. When he saw the sick, He had compassion. When he saw the grieving, He had compassion. When He saw the hungry He had compassion. When He saw the distressed He had compassion. Compassion defined the Son of God. And so when I put myself in situations where I am driven to compassion I am positioning myself for a deeper encounter with God. As God stirs compassion in my heart He is drawing me into a more intimate relationship with Him - where I can more fully experience the depth of His love for humanity.
To think that I feel as if my heart will break in two upon what I will see...and then to realize that those emotions just barely scratch the surface of God's abounding passion and love for His people just blows my mind. It's really only in that thought that I can rest...that God loves these little children who are so alone more than I can ever dream of. That He has promised to be the Father to the fatherless, the Defender of the weak, the Healer of the broken. He will ultimately be their Protector and Provider. But the beautiful part is that I get to be in on it. As the body of Christ, we MUST be in on it. As painful and uncomfortable as it may be to expose ourselves to unthinkable struggles and situations, we will never get to know God fully until we do so.
So, here I am...scared that I won't be able to handle all that I see but confident that God will reveal Himself to me in new ways in the midst of it all and will somehow use me to be the fragrance of Jesus to the people I meet - whether it be by a drink of water, a hug, a meal, a new pair of underwear or a prayer.
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed". Psalm 82:3