Thursday turned out to be a non-day of ministry for Dee and I. Or should I say, a day that I did not minster to anyone, but God ministered to me!! Larry and Mike had meetings all day and the rest of the team went to Lulwanda to minister by being the teachers in the classroom, teaching computer skills to the teachers, and loving on the children. Dee and I stayed back at the hotel and got our hair braided in preparation for the African wedding we would be attending on Saturday. Dee and I enjoyed getting to know Prosee and Sarah as they braided our hair. Dee said it was the most she had ever heard Prosee talk! It took three hours for each of us to get our hair done and by 2:30 or so we were ready for lunch. Dee and I had lunch at the hotel and then I spent the rest of the afternoon reading the book Blue Like Jazz. It was a different book and brought a different perspective to the way Christianity is viewed. God used this book to minister to me on the trip.
My hair after it was braided
As God was stirring my heart to be more passionate, he was also showing me the importance of community. I am more of an introvert by nature and as I have said before, desire to be more at Jesus’s feet that are not moving than when his feet are moving. I like the stillness and the quietness of the mornings and the slower paced lifestyle (I know you are thinking that I am living anything but a slow paced life!!!) All that said, I tend to try to stay away from community Yet God desires for us to live in “healthy” community with other believers as well as non-believers. (I say “healthy” because I know there are some of you out there who thrive on community and who need to have less community in order to have balance.)
After four days, I had to take the braids out. They were starting to drive me crazy. With already naturally curly, frizzy hair, the braids only magnified it!!
So as I have been reflecting on my Thursday in Uganda, the past two days here in Tomball, we have been having our trees trimmed and some cut down. The timing of this could not be more perfect as I recount my experiences in Uganda. The Lord has led me to John 15:1-11 where he clearly not only is showing me through his word what he is doing in my life, but is allowing me to see the pruning he did to me in Uganda and the visible changes that it makes to the outside world when I actually allow him to do it.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples, Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also love you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Scott and I thought our yard and tress looked fine. However, when the pruning was finished, we realized how much more we had and could enjoy. The same is true with our Christian walk. Before going to Uganda, I was comfortable with my spiritual condition. However, God desired to do some pruning in my life. He made it to where I did not have time to plan anything. I had to just walk in whatever he placed before me, including going on the trip. While on the trip he was already showing me the lack of mercy that I have and would bring that lesson to a climax on Friday. God used the Blue Like Jazz book to show me how much I need to make an effort to fellowship in community with other believers here in the states. Just like the parts of the tree that were not beneficial for the growth of the tree or the trees around it, God pruned out and is continuing to prune out of me the things that are not beneficial to myself or those around me. I pray that those things that are being pruned will be cast into the fire just like the branches of our trees were burned.