Walking in Heaven

Sometime within the past two years I have become a crier. For those of you who may not know me and are reading this blog, this is a massive transformation. I used to have trouble trying to produce tears, but nope not anymore. I tend to blame a lot of things on Whitney Marie Low, but this one REALLY is all her fault. If you want to the evidence that it’s Whit’s doing, ask her about Christmas day 2011. It’s not really my story to tell. 😉

So today, I’m working on some cards for my best friend here Epiphanie. She’s a Cameroonian student here and will be returning to Cameroon before 2014. I’ve known her since my first STINT year, and I have so enjoyed walking along side of her in her walk with Jesus. The first time we met I asked her, “What kind of music do you like?” She said, “Do you know Jer-eh-mee Comp?” I was a little confused at the accent, but together we figured out that she was talking about Jeremy Camp. I looked at her and said, “Yes, he sings about Jesus. Do you know much about Jesus?” She said, “Yes, I asked to receive Jesus a year ago.”

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From that point on, I began to meet with her for discipleship, Bible study, CPC meetings, and just hangout time. If there was ever a source of life here beyond the Lord, it would be Epiphanie. She is so much fun and so easy to love. Her growth in the Lord this past year has been amazing. Seeing her pursue the Lord spurs me on to love Christ more. She told the man who led me to Christ, “Mary is my spiritual mother.” Although I didn’t lead her to Christ, it’s been sweet to walk through this life together for this small amount of time. Truly, she’s taught me, encouraged me and fanned the flames of my heart for Christ more than I think I ever did for her! She’s my best friend in all of Africa.

I’ve been working on some cards for her. With each one, I tear up more and more. The first card is a goodbye card saying, “My friend, I’ll miss you. Know I love you. These letters will be a reminder of that through the years.” You all know African mail systems and just how easy it is to lose track of someone for long amounts of time, so I have written a few letters for major events that I am thinking more than likely will happen just in case we lose contact.

I wrote her a card for the day she gets engaged to her future husband, a card for the day she gets married (which I have promised to be at her wedding but just in case!), a card for the day she finds out she’ll be a mommy, and a card for the day she becomes a mommy.

Today, I wrote the card for the day she realizes that there’s a baby growing in her belly. Ugh, I’ve never fought back so many tears in my life! Imagining what she’ll look like, how happy she’ll be, some of the hopes and dreams she’ll have for her baby… And imagining myself not being there to walk through all of that with her. I wrote a prayer for her firstborn praying that he/she would be a mighty picture of God’s redemption and mercy to the world. I encouraged her in her walk reminding her that first and foremost of her family’s needs: a wife, mother and friend that loves and follows Christ.

I’m realizing with each passing day, how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to all of these faces, friendships and memories; especially Epiphanie. I am trusting the Lord with my Muslim friends knowing that He is for them. I am trusting the Lord with change, with growth and with provision of new community. It’s so hard to love deeply for a short amount of time and potentially never see people again this side of heaven.

But, alas I am reminded of the new heaven and new earth in which the glory of the nations will be displayed all for Christ! And in Heaven, in that sweet, blissful place I’ll get to go on walks and meet Epiphanie’s little boy or girl that I’ve prayed for. I’ll get to meet Senegalese people who came to know Christ through reading a Bible they received through one of our Bible distributions on campus. I’ll get to hear cool stories of how God used CPC students to reach the nations. I’ll see people who we’ve shared with and pleaded with God to save, that we never saw the fruit of this side of heaven.

And that’s the hope that those who are in Christ have. That it isn’t about behavior modification, being a good person, but rather a belief in a God who loves you, wants to walk day in and day out with you, and has extravagant plans for your future. It is the hope that says: I know you can’t do it on your own, that’s why I sent Jesus. Trust in me and believe that I can do marvelous things because I am a marvelous God. Walk with me here and now. And believe that we’ll go on plenty of walks in Heaven.

And so now, I praise God that friendships within the body of Christ are eternal. I praise God for even the labor now that I can so quickly believe is in vain, those will testify to His faithfulness in Heaven. On my walks with Jesus I imagine Him pointing across a beautiful field saying, “You remember that taxi driver you and Elaina prayed for and gave a copy of the Gospel to? That’s his son that you prayed for. Through that book, his dad trusted in me and led him to me!” Or saying something like, “You see those groups of girls? That one over there, Fatou, received my word at your Bible distribution on campus. She took it back to her dorm and all of her roommates wanted to study it too. They had a Bible study and all came to trust in me!”

I can’t promise that’s what Heaven will be like and I can’t say that’s what Jesus will say, but I imagine seeing in Heaven the Lord’s faithfulness and seeing the fruit from being here fully displayed in His kingdom.

So, I walk here. I press on to fight the good fight of faith even if it does make me teary eyed at times. I long and confidently hope for the things of heaven, and l love that I serve a God who has amazing plans for us in this life and the next.

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Longing for Heaven [while being asked to carry a body].

(Roman Sakhno /Getty Images/iStockphoto)
“Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.”
― C.S. Lewis
(Roman Sakhno /Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Lord is faithful.

I have learned so much about God’s uncompromising and constant character the past two weeks. Just to sum up what I’ve learned: God is good regardless of my sin, other people’s sins, and circumstances. God is with me. Bad days do not disprove God’s love for me. God loves to redeem, restore, and make things new.

Those are some pretty good truths to rely on considering the day Katie and I had. Today was really sweet and really sad at the same time. Last week my friend “JaJa’s” grandma passed away. I asked her if there was anything we could do for her. She asked if I would go to the funeral ceremony to “carry the body.” I was a little concerned, but for those of you who know me, you know the love I have for “JaJa”. So Katie and I went this morning to be a support for her and to love her. The Lord really helped me out because I tend to get really nervous/awkward at funerals. I don’t know what questions to ask or what I should say.  There was the ever-present language gap between me and most of the family, so I hope they still saw that I was wanting to be there for JaJa. Oh, and I wasn’t asked to carry the body. Phew! Close one.

It was hard because I love “JaJa” and I hate to see her and her family hurting. There, of course, was sadness that came from seeing the distress, devastation, and lack of hope that was there for the family. Family members were sobbing uncontrollably, shaking, and singing songs to Allah begging to let the grandmother into Paradise. The pain that they were feeling-of losing someone they loved so much-was so thick you could touch it. I couldn’t help but feel a little of what they were feeling; I wanted to take that pain from them. For this family that is predominately Muslim, there is no assurance of salvation. There is no promise that after they die, they won’t be in Hell. There is no escaping their sins. All I could think about was this is the way every funeral is going to be like for this family, for their village, and for this country if no one reaches them with the message of salvation through Christ.

And all of that is really challenging for me. I have to battle against my mind and my heart because I want to doubt God and His plans. I think, “Is this what it’s going to be like for “JaJa’s” children? Are they going to be pleading with Allah to let her into Paradise too?” I act as if I have more love for her then the God who formed her has. But then I remember the truths that I’ve been learning. God is good. God cares for “JaJa” and her family. He is with them. He is the only redeemer and the only One who can restore us to Himself. Seeing the devastation of sin, and the eternal effects of it, didn’t cause my heart to become angry at the Lord today. It caused my heart to press into Him and to desire to go out to the people who need Him with the hope that they are all longing for. God desires to bring His lost home.

And so today I was encouraged to be thinking about this eternal home. I am excited to die and be in Heaven. I know that sounds weird and depressing, but we’re promised an eternity with a loving God and no more sin-heartache, tears, anger. We get to worship and sing praises to the God who loves us more than anyone we’ve ever met could. We are in total bliss with brothers and sisters from every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping the same God. I’ll be speaking Wolof fluently with Jesus. I’ll have the best French accent while singing praise songs to my King! I’ll get to eat Yassa Poulet out of the same plate as Jesus. I’ll get to worship God on the tops of mountains that I couldn’t climb in this body! I’ll get to sing songs with old friends and one’s that I don’t yet know. I’ll rest in His presence, goodness, love and beauty for an eternity.

I was gently reminded that this is not the end. Until I get to the end, I will continue to long for something greater than what the World has to offer. For those who believe in Christ, we’re promised an eternity with Him not based off of anything we could ever do but because He died in our place. I fully believe I am bound for the kingdom, and I would love Senegalese, Americans, Saudi Arabians, Indians, Brazilians and for you to come with me.

Please pray with me for “JaJa’s” family and for the gospel of eternal hope to go forth in this nation.

Isaiah 43:1-7

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”