I wandered the streets surrounding our campus looking for a quiet place. I found it a few blocks away as I wandered through a gate and down the path of what was once a river that has since disappeared. It is called "Philosopher's Walk", remenicent of times gone by when others waled this path seeking solitude and a place to think. The walk is surrounded by buildings I have no idea how old they are but the stones are blackened by time in places.
As I found my bench I realized God had provided me with the voices of these young people, so full of hopes and dreams, to remind me of the endless possibilities before us. Voices filled with accents from different places and cultures to remind me we are all different, but united in God.
As I sat gathering my thoughts and finding my peace I spied a sparrow taking a worm from the ground beneath a large old tree and gently flying to feed the babies in the nest. I was reminded of Psalm 84:3
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
I was reminded that God has a place for me as well and that place is the peace I found last night in finally catching my "red balloon". I will always have my home near my family and friends. I will always have my home in the churches that sustain methrough the love, friendship and prayers of my church family. But, for now, my nest will be near God's alter in South Sudan.
My reading today was Isaiah 65:17-25
New Heavens and a New Earth17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred
will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
I've read these words before and they didn't really have much meaning for me. Today they took on a whole new life. I think this passage is especially fitting in this time in South Sudan's history. God is calling me to be His messanger; to walk with them as they begin to build, not just roads and infrastructure, but new lives as well.
It challenges me to be a part of something new. It pushes me to the limits of my faith and my ability and I know that going in. It makes me uncomfortable, but I watch the sparrow feeding her babies and giving them what they need and I know God will provide what I need as well.
That is the promise of God. No where in His promise does He way it will be easy, that it won't be full of challenges, set backs or failures. But God does promise a new creation ending in peace and God keeps his promises...