I don’t know that one can feel smaller than when seated at the foot of a mountain. And this is where I was, just days ago, on the eve of my 43rd birthday, a river rushing by like it couldn’t wait to satisfy every thirsty thing.
I sat there in Jasper, Alberta, on a white rock, and all around me, the green of pine and spruce and the chatter of squirrels and the rush of wings as something like a Whippoorwill flashed overhead.
I sat there in my smallness and felt Jesus’ immenseness.
It was a feeling much like the one I experienced in Uganda, May of this year.
A friend had bought me an African dress, the prettiest dress I’d ever seen. I wore it to church where our Ugandan friend, Baptist, was preaching.
But all thoughts of my dress were lost as Baptist preached. He preached on Christ manifesting Himself through Scripture, and even as he preached, Christ revealed Himself to me – much like the mountain, in all of its grandeur, in its firm profile yet comforting strength, He was all of that and more to me. A timeless presence, wrapped up in layers of light.
And even as I sat now on the white rock by the river, contemplating my 43 years of existence, my thoughts reflected those of Oswald Chambers:
“At the beginning of the Christian life we have our own ideas as to what God’s purpose is – ‘I am meant to go here or there,’ ‘God has called me to do this special work,’ and we go and do the thing, and still the big compelling of God remains.”
I’ve been going and doing “the thing” since 2014, and the big compelling of God remains.
It drives all of us here at The Lulu Tree – the inner force of the Spirit that pushes us through sleepless nights, disappointments and miscommunications, financial droughts, near-despair and then, the rain – it compels us, keeps us going, and to where, we’re not completely sure.
It’s as if the vision, which in essence has remained the same since our humble beginnings, only gets “more and more vague” as Chambers says. “God’s aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short-sighted to see what He is aiming at,” he writes in My Utmost for His Highest.
But we stumble on, from country to country, because the poor call us. The poor and the needy who are in fact, the heart of the gospel. It’s as though the thirsty are the rivers themselves. It’s the upside-down kingdom, and we go around the world, wanting to help, compelled to help, yet somehow we end up being helped. Like Baptist, whose words baptized me there in Uganda in his white-tent church.
And this makes me wonder – was Jesus blessed, too, by the ones who needed Him? By the woman who bled, by Mary Magdalene, by the blind beggar? Did those who thirsted somehow refresh Him, and can we bless Him also by the kindness of our deeds?
Of course we can. He is big, yes, but also small enough to fit in a manger. He shows up as the ones in need, and whatever we do for them, we do for Him. We must go and we must help them, even as we are helped. The only outstanding debt being that of love.
“The work we do is of no account,” writes Chambers. “It is so much scaffolding compared with the big compelling of God.”
And so, even as we emerge from a blogging fast, and press into the vagueness of the vision that overwhelms us with its magnitude, I want to share some of what God is doing, so you can be praying for us dear partners and friends:
First, let me introduce Michael Pastoor, who is our new Director of Sustainability. His background is in Cargill and in Hatching Hope. He has a vision for starting 50 chicken farms through The Lulu Tree over the next three years. These farms would be strategically placed around the world in places we’ve been called, with the goal of becoming Poultry Education Centers. These centers would educate and equip the church first, and then the community. Michael is currently piloting two projects. We are looking at launching them in Burundi and in Venezuela. Please be in prayer for the bigness of this vision.
Second, God has provided for us to build guesthouses in Uganda, which will be available early 2024, Lord willing. These guesthouses are walking distance from the School of Hope, where some of our teenage mothers attend. The goal of the guesthouses is to fund the Uganda ministry to these mothers and to the pastors. We look forward to sharing more as they are completed.
Third, the day before my 43rd birthday, I submitted a new memoir called God Who Became Bread to Whitaker House. It’s an account of my love for Jesus, and the story of all He has done in Africa and Asia. It will become ink and page sometime in the spring. Proceeds from the book will support The Lulu Tree. Please, would you be in prayer for this project? May Jesus alone get all the glory.
In closing, friends, may you find peace in your smallness. May you stare up at His glory and get lost in His bigness and may He compel you forward like that river, rushing joyfully into the vague yet vast purposes of God. Soon we will all be reunited with Him, face to face with the One who is worthy of it all. So much love to you.