by Boni Piper, Spiritual Formation Director
Living in Seattle during this long rainy season has been like a long Lent. And when a day like today happens, and the sun comes out and being outside is glorious, it feels Easter has arrived! This Lent, like the several before it, I spent much of the time in Kenya, where there is no water and the sun shines hot and constant. But that does not feel like Easter at all. It feels like “being in a dry and desperate land where there is no water” that the Psalms talk about.
I never return home from Kenya the same as when I went. God often uses this time to show me my false self, the unfinished business that drives my actions and my complaining spirit that always wants more. This time was no different. But being with the women of rural Kenya always changes my perspective. How is it that these women can have no material wealth and be so thankful? How can they endure the hardship of searching for water for hours and carrying home heavy jerry cans of disease ridden water and not be bitter? In the midst of no real future for their children, how do they continue to praise God for his goodness? How do they keep trusting God so completely?
Isaiah 58 tells us to get rid of unfair practices, stop blaming the victims, quit gossiping, be generous, give yourself to those in need. All wonderful Lenten commitments, that hopefully continue throughout our lives. And the promise included in these verses is that we will be a “well-watered garden…that never runs dry.” But I feel dry! I feel worn out, tired and old!
Yet, as I contemplated these verses and looked within myself another truth emerged. I wrestled with God and reminded him how old I am, how weak physically and prone to illness I am, he spoke another truth though Isaiah. “I will always show you where to go. I will give you a full life in the emptiest of places – firm muscles, strong bones.” And certainly he has. I heard in my head, “after all, you are my beloved!”
That is what the women of Kenya know that I so often forget. Whatever the situation we are in, God is there. We are never alone in the joy or the hardship. His love permeates it all! His love fills up the emptiness, encourages the tired and protects the spirit of those who struggle. In knowing that love, I can sing and dance with my friends. I can trust that though I don’t understand why there is such injustice in the world, being the beloved is the greatest joy of all! I can answer the call to do what I can and trust God with the rest. Being his beloved is a gift bigger than we imagine. It is true privilege.