By Mommy Emily
I’ve always prayed one prayer: to know God the most I can while I’m here on earth.
In Africa, He’s a breath away – it’s so easy to hear Him there, like there’s bad cell reception in North America but there, amidst red dirt hills, roaming chickens, and the blue waves of Lake Niagara, it seems we’re closer to the cell tower.
When I walk the street in Canada, it seems the whole world is dressed in pajamas and smoking cigarettes. The skin on our children is grey and sallow, and they’re huffing and puffing simply from walking down the sidewalk. Everyone is staring down at their cell phones or looking listlessly past each other. Most of North America lives inside, on their couches, and if they have to go out, they hide beneath their hoodies.
I go to Uganda, to the slums and villages, and I see teenage mothers dressed in beautiful colors and laughing as they walk barefoot with babies on their backs. I see women wrapped in fine African fabric and carrying firewood on their heads. They smile at me. Little children who’ve walked miles with their yellow jerry cans giggle as I pass by.
And I wonder, who are the truly poor? Let’s not pity those in third world countries. They have more than we’ll ever know.
I get richer every time I go to Africa. I get richer when I am hugged by a child whose skin is covered in dirt and head is covered in scabs. I get richer when I receive a grass-woven mat from a widow who’s thanking me for coming. I get richer when I spend all day in an open-roofed church with jajjas and single mothers and young children and men, dancing to drums, singing and swaying, praying and receiving the Word through passionate apostles and prophets who are wearing their only suit and their only pair of shoes. I get richer as I give my clothes and my money away, because everything is reversed in the kingdom of heaven, and one of God’s greatest delights is feeding a nation on a nickel. He loves to take our little, and make it a lot.
And He’s teaching me what it means to know Him fully – or rather, to be fully known.
He’s teaching me over dinner with our Lulu Uganda National Team – our national director Esther Tendo, her co-director, Joel Lutaaya, and then a host of young men whom God has drawn to what Lulu is doing: businessmen, lawyers, and engineers who are also gifted in prophecy, preaching, and prayer.
“Did you know we’re not supposed to be just children of God, but sons of God?” Enoch says around a mouthful of cassava. He’s a quiet, serious, 30-year-old son of a pastor, and he’s sitting across from me at a local restaurant. “Many of the translations have deleted the word ‘son’ because it’s exclusive, but it holds the truth of our identity – we are Sons: heirs to the kingdom of heaven. There is such power in this word, Sons. It is more than being taken care of like a little child – it is stepping into adulthood in the kingdom of heaven and inheriting and possessing God’s world.”
I swallow. He shows me Galatians 4.
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
I could clap. How did I miss this? It is the Dunamis-Holy-Spirit-Power — the miracle-working, loaves-and-fishes multiplying, healing-the-blind kind of power I’ve been searching for in our North American churches and in self-help books, and I’ve found it here in a place without internet or cell phones. I’ve found God’s bigness in a tiny village in Africa. And I’ve discovered that this bigness lives in Me.
I’m God’s daughter, yes, and I’ve fully embraced that, but now it’s time to enter into a NEW, more mature identity — as His Son. It’s not a male or female thing. It’s a divine recognition. It’s a losing of ourselves and taking on the skin of Christ – the dusty skin of Christ that’s covered in scabs.
It’s an unexpected power in the least of these which is raising the dead, making the lame to walk, canceling addictions, and healing the sick.
Because the poor have discovered something we’ve been too offended to even approach – to truly know God, we need to become His sons. It’s the only way to enter into and experience the power of the kingdom of heaven.
The sun is falling fast outside, the stars flickering to life like little torches, and the night air smells like palm trees and grass. And as we head back to the hotel I can’t wait to fall on my knees. Because that’s where all the power is. In getting poor, we become rich. In stripping ourselves of any rights and any privilege, we invite Christ in – and He gives us His Kingdom, as sons of the Most High. Hallelujah.