As I write this, I am about to head for a little shack in the woods for a few days. I'm going to spend some time with Jesus (and no, I don't expect to meet a big black woman named Papa). I've never done anything like this before, but God has been laying it on my heart for sometime. In fact, it was back in March of this year that I began to sense that God was telling me I need to get away for a few days, to have nothing and no one except for him. Well, now it's December and I figured it was about time for me to get obedient.
I don't fully know what to expect. What I do know is that when I look at the life of Jesus, every time after he came out of a time of solitude, big things happened: things like a little sermon called the Beatitudes, and the feeding of the four thousand, multitudes healed, demons cast out. I don't know about you but I want God to do big things with my life. So I'm following in the footsteps of Jesus & following his example, and praying and fasting that God will use my life in a way that he has yet to do.
Here's a question for you. Do you work in times of solitude into your life? I'm not saying that you need to go to some shack in the woods for a few days (though maybe you DO need to). I mean in your daily life. Do you have times of solitude where you can hang with Jesus one on one, uninterrupted by phone calls, text messages, tv, internet, friends, and loved ones? If not, do you find yourself never being able to quite break free of that sinful addiction or habit? Do you find yourself in a spiritual slump, apathetic, and wondering why you can't move to that next level in your walk with Jesus. It's because you aren't taking time to be alone with him. In Luke 5:15-16, we learned that Jesus OFTEN slipped away from the busyness that was his life to practice solitude.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
If Jesus needed times of solitude, how arrogant are we to think that we don't need it. You do need it. I need it. Find time for solitude in your life.
When I return from my little vacation with Jesus, maybe I'll have some deep insight and some revolutionary blogs (probably not). Until then, while I'm gone over the next couple of days, my blog will be releasing (in three installments) the "Matt and Wes Short Film Festival" that aired during our 2nd Annual 2008 Winter Rock Your Face Off Christmas All-nighter Bash. Trust me, it's complete insanity interspersed with moments of shear genius. Enjoy.
The following is a prayer I recorded in my journal on the day of our departure from Uganda earlier this year.
Loving Father, thank you for another fruitful trip to Uganda. The task here never seems to grow smaller, less daunting, or easier. There is so much work to be done. I know that we cannot do everything. Please help us to have a singular vision united under Godfrey through the fellowship of your Holy Spirit. Please give us focus on what it is that you have called us to do so as not to spread ourselves too thin so that, though we may do many things, I fear we would not do anything well. Please send more workers! Not arrogant Americans, but anyone who is able to humble himself and do nothing more than enable Uganda's own heroes to rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit as a shining light in a dark world. If Uganda is going to be saved spiritually, physically, economically, or any other way, it is not going to happen through Americans who have even the best of intentions. It is going to happen through her own heroes who rise up in faith through the Holy Spirit believing and trusting in God with every fiber of their beings. These people don't have faith in some outcome. Their faith is the person of Jesus Christ, the character of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen more faith displayed this week in one man than perhaps I have seen all of my life prior to this week. Father, grant that I may have that kind of faith. Lord God, I believe that there is coming a day when you are going to remove your hand of blessing from America. My prayer today, my only request, is that when that day comes may your hand of blessing come to rest on Africa. May it come to rest on Uganda. I know that no one is deserving of your blessing, but these people are perhaps the "least undeserving." May it be your good pleasure and your sovereign will to bless them beyond measure.
While I was in Uganda back in October, I read the book Wide Awake By Erwin McManus. The book was not about Africa, but toward the end he made a statement that rang true with me while I was there.
Africa cannot be fixed; it must be re-created. Not by us who have even the most noble of intentions, but by her own heroes. We must serve them and make their journey less perilous where possible – and possible where impossible. It is they who must reimagine Africa and lead in her re-creation.
I couldn't agree more. This is why we will continue to partner with Arise Africa. It is not us that are going to be able to come in and fix Uganda. We have no illusions that what we do, no matter how good it is, is going to be some magical fix for the people of Uganda. What we can do, however, is provide support for Africa's own heroes. Heroes like my good friend Lillian who continuallly had medical issues until they ultimately led to her death. She had multiple opportunities and invitations to come and live in the States where she could received proper medical attention, but she always refused because her calling was to her people and her country. She knew that staying in Uganda would mean that her lifespan would be shortened, but she told me on multiple occasions that she was fine with that, because she couldn't wait to "go home" anyway. Heores like Godfrey, Susan, and Nelson the leaders of Arise Africa who decided to go without taking salaries for a year so that they could put that money back into the ministry. I once asked Godfrey (who has 8 children, by the way) how he managed to provide for his family. He responded simply, "Pastor Smooth, God hasn't let me down yet." I truly believe that it is they who will be able reimagine and re-create their great country through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is our duty, our obligation, and our honor to help them, support them, and enable them in any way that we can.