Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"I Want Beans Please!"

Beginning on the Sunday before Easter, God began giving me a little wake-up call when our family took a short road trip with the "Ugandan Thunder", a boys choir comprised of eight young boys from Uganda who are touring the Southeast this summer. The boys provide an amazing ministry, of singing, dancing and praising God.

Our road trip was to a small country church in Gray, GA which is basically out in the middle of nowhere. As we got close to the church, I could see a little small white building with a steeple that didn't look much bigger than a small home. As we turned into the parking lot though, it was obvious that this was no ordinary country church.

Just behind the original church building that I had seen from a distance was a newer gym building that I discovered later was now the worship center. I know that buildings are just buildings, but it was obvious that this part of the body of Christ was impacting their community. The place was crawling with people. I thought of the image of a huge lighthouse that could be seen for miles. It was encouraging to my heart to see God working in that small community.

While I was busy taking all of that in, the members of the church were piling in with food in hand to introduce to Ugandan boys to a favorite Southern tradition... a covered dish supper! Now I've been to my share of covered dish suppers (and have the shape to prove it!), but I have never seen so much food at a covered dish supper in my life. It was amazing to me, but it was overwhelming to those Ugandan boys. It was like sensory overload... they had probably never seen that much food in their life!

As I walked down the line with one of the boys to help him fix his plate, I told him to just tell me what he wanted and I would put it on his plate. His response cracked me up... he said "I want beans please!". The reason I found that so funny was that these boys eat one meal a day when they are in Uganda if they are blessed. That meal is posho, a finely ground grain that is a distant cousin to grits. It tastes really bland and is basically just "survival" food. On a really good day, they might get a scoop of beans on top of the posho to give it some flavor.

When this young boy saw ten tables full of every kind of food you could possibly imagine, he wanted beans. I did persuade him to try some other things and I think they all pretty much caught on to the concept of "all you can eat" by the time dinner was over. It was certainly an unforgettable experience for me to be a part of that with the boys.

After dinner, the boys did their concert (I prefer the word "ministry" really) and it was amazing. I wept like I haven't in a long time. It was amazing to me to watch those boys who had so little, be so thankful and focused of worshipping God. I heard a pastor say once that "we will never understand that Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all that we have". I was witnessing that while I watched those boys exhaust themselves in worship to God.

As we drove back home after the service, It was if God was standing at a white board and teaching me two very distinct things.....

First, when it comes to all that God is, and all that He offers to me, I'm no different that that little Ugandan boy staring at the ten tables of food. My instinct is to just settle for beans when there is a feast right before my eyes. I'd rather be comfortable and my hunger can easily be satisfied by just a few bites of what I know. All the while, God is saying "taste and see that the Lord is good" - Psalm 34:8, and His desire for me is to partake of all that He is. I need to get out of my comfort zone in my walk with Jesus....I need to know Him more and experience the fullness of a life immersed in Jesus.

Secondly, I need to learn to be content and to praise God regardless of my circumstances. These boys, who live in shacks with no running water, no TV, no phones, no toys, no entertainment, and very little food, sing with the most grateful spirit you can imagine and dance mightily before the Lord. They get it.... Jesus is all they have and He is all that they need. If I'm not careful, I'll find my prayer life evolving into nothing more than a "wish list" of things to make my life and walk more comfortable. These boys can't even comprehend "comfortable". Thankfulness is a great first step towards contentment.

As I considered these two truths that God was revealing to me about myself, I understood the passage from Ephesians 1:17-21 in a new light "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."

I wonder how I'm doing living out the last part of that passage "the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Am I full with Jesus? Have I tasted everything He is? Is He all that I want, or am I just asking for beans?

Whatever It Takes,

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