Stepping outside, I manage to catch the last rosy rays streaking low behind silhouetted trees as the sun passes it’s baton to a healthy slice of moon taking up post for the night watch.
The call and response of crickets chirp back and forth as night sounds begin to creep in closer from every angle. Somewhere at the end of the street, a hoot-owl calls the evening to order as the sun exits and dusk finally gives way to deepening night.
I saw the first fireflies tonight. I heard a few cicadas too.
Laying on my back looking up at the moon glinting far beyond the trees, the angle of my repose makes the Queen Anne’s lace look smoky and sultry, mysterious and lovely in the gathering darkness.
A deep breath of the cooling air relaxes my body by degrees until I feel my shoulders give way against the grass, sinking into the comfort of God’s obvious and quiet presence there with me.
My cat joins me, purring, and neither of us speaks a word. It’s enough just to be there together with Him.
I am thankful.
Soon, I will find myself under a different piece of the same sky in Africa.
I know I’ve been quiet about that around here — not because there’s nothing to say. Every bit of my energy has been warping at the speed of life with planning and logistics, business and ministry and the rest of the daily doo.
I am tired.
I’ve spent time wrestling with angels over it all , winning the best two out of three fair and square. The truth is unmistakable; God is all over this thing. So in a little over a month, my husband, son and I will board a plane marked “Divine Adventure” and set off to document a very beautiful project.
Hospice buckets. For the dying. I’ve been trying to explain how this project first captured me and I’ve come to realize that it’s 3 parts God and one part me.
This morning, this article brought home once again just how far God will go to move spirits and open the eyes of hearts to touch just one for Him.
It’s that important.
Two years ago, my husband and I were just making our way out of the wilderness. Stumbling and blinking in the new light of God’s great presence, we didn’t know how, what— or if— He would use the gifts we laid before Him. Placing them on the altar, we waited. And watched for where He was at work.
Then I saw the pictures.
White, 5-gallon buckets carried by hand.
Dirt roads leading to mud huts and block houses, sometimes out in the middle of nowhere.
Houses where people lay sick and alone and yet never out of the sight of God. Geographically isolated in most cases.
Physically isolated by the scourge and shame of a deadly virus, they lay there just waiting.
Waiting to die.
Sometimes with the companionship of an ill-equipped caregiver; oftentimes alone.
I could feel it.
The ache of loneliness.
Weakness and terrible discomfort.
Days and nights all running together into a deep sea of hopelessness.
Until that day.
Visitors drop by with a gift. Opening the bucket there are so many small and yet valuable items offering comfort in these final days. Smooth, new bedsheets bring a small bit of contentment to an aching body pressed against a rough sleeping mat and floor.
Body lotion hydrates uncomfortably dry skin and lip balm eases the pain of cracked and chapped lips. There are flexible drinking straws so water can be sipped with minimal effort.
And socks for cold feet—likely the first pair ever owned.
It’s possibly the first time in so long that anyone has held their hand and listened. Possibly, it’s the first time since the diagnosis that anyone has entered into their need and has expressed so much love and grace towards them.
And then the most beautiful thing of all happens.
This person hears how people thousands of miles away love God so much that when they heard about how others were struggling through their last moments alone, without basic supplies and without eternal hope, they joined their resources together, packed these buckets and sent them overseas and —they prayed. They prayed for this person and this moment so that even now, Hope could come and be their companion and eventually, carry them home.
They can rest secure and die in peace.
- It’s the thief on the cross moment.
- It’s the 11th hour and the owner of the vineyard is going to pay the same wage even to the last one “hired”.
- It’s the James 2 mandate of making sure that physical needs are met so that the spiritual needs can be addressed and received more easily.
It’s a beautiful Gospel work
I get this. I do.
Eleven years ago on a cold, January evening, cancer took my mother to her grave at the age of 57. Deep family hurts made it so that I really didn’t know how to live with her and often feel like I failed at helping her die.
I promise…. I tried.
I was naive, sometimes selfish and offensive in my ignorance all the while.. somehow hoping to find healing between us even if our remaining time was short. My family and I did what we could even when it seemed hopeless. Some days it was enough to refuse to run away. God gave grace and sent help when needed.
I am grateful.
He provided others who were able to bring her comfort when she wouldn’t allow me in the room—others who asked the important questions and spoke the important words. Even though I didn’t get to hear the answers myself, I can find the peace I need in knowing that someone did.
Someday… I’ll find out.
Meanwhile, God is sending me to Africa to participate in His wonderful work there and to find and tell these stories of hope as they unfold before my eyes. Yes… I’m nervous. I’m no longer naive enough to believe this is some sort of romantic journey to an exotic land with lots of happily ever afters.
But I trust God.
He has shown me clearly that there are really only two kinds of people in the world; saved and unsaved. He has revealed that Africa doesn’t simply have an HIV/AIDS problem or a corruption problem. They don’t simply have a problem with access to education or medicine, food and clean water. No. Africa has the SAME problem as the United States and the rest of the world: a sin problem and there is a remedy.
His name is Jesus Christ.
Before Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, He boiled ten “thou shalt nots” down to two “thou shalt” reasons for wanting doing so:
- Love the Lord your God with all you are and all you have
- and love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s a love thing.
God, neighbor, self. Go. Repeat.
That’s what it’s all about.
It’s what I’ve been trying to say past the silence all this time. And you’re invited. Right where you are in all the ways possible. You can go here and find out more about this project and see other ways God is at work in the world.
He’s really that awesome. Be His. Be Love. Be moved.
Being moved by Him today with these lovelies:
Holly Gerth , Jennifer Dukes Lee , Bonnie Gray and Barbie Swihart
22 thoughts on “thou shalt”
So beautiful Lorretta! Words straight from your heart! My prayers and love are with you all every moment! Blessings dear friend!
Thank you for all your care and support Andrea! I know we’ll be watched over and prayed for faithfully. Blessed by you….and I can’t wait to share all that God shows us so more can share and more can know the peace and love of Christ.
So grateful for you, friend! XO
Holly. Your visit and your comment mean so much to me if only because I know you are aware of every bit of what I’m attempting to say and share here. Thank you for your encouragement. Blessings!
What a beautiful adventure Jesus is about to take you on. You are going to be forever changed!
I know Barbie and that’s enough to scare the waddin’ out of me! I’ve been to the country twice before and each time I learned a little more about the people and myself….and a whole lot about God. This trip will be radically different because everything about my understanding of these things has changed. I can’t help but be moved and changed by Him. Thanks for praying and keeping the light on!
This sounds like an amazing project! Praying for you and your family in your travels to Africa. It sound like it is going to be a life changing experience!
Yes Candace… it’s been amazing so far as I can see from this side of the ocean and I’m so glad you have joined in the journey here with your prayers and encouragements. To be continued!
Beautiful. Like you.
<3 Thanks Mandy and thanks for praying too.
So this is what sister Loretta is headed towards. Thank you for going! And not because “you shall” but coz, the Jesus heart in you “wants” to!! Bright blessings dear!
I am so glad you stopped by Jenni! This is a wonderful project and I’m simply thankful for the eyes to see what He wants me to see. I’ll pray for your eyes to be opened to the people and community around you as well. Who knows where God will lead? Bright blessings upon you too!
” BUT I TRUST GOD ” How often can I really say that with integrity ?
It’s a trust that was birthed first from failure to trust Him. Gradually, tenderly one toe at a time, I’ve stepped further into the territory and am discovering that while He is not safe, He is good. Bless you Brother!
truly the “least of these”, the stigma is so great, the help is a drop in the bucket so to speak, but it is a drop and with others becomes something much more. Your willingness to be a servant and go where He sends you will be remembered. Anxiously awaiting the words He gives you when you go. You go with prayers, dear one!
My dearest friend Nancy–knowing that you are in my prayer corner is a huge relief. I know we say things like that and maybe even take it for granted but I’ve come to learn that it’s what I need most. Please do pray for us. Love you!
Oh heart pangs in me right now. My heart aches for those. Oh how they must feel forgotten. Invisible. Until the gift of love comes. I know that feeling but nothing in comparison. My pain is but a smidgen.
I’ll be praying for those and you all. That you bring the heart and hands and feet of Jesus. That their “now” will be made less cumbersome and their “soon” will be covered with eternity.
I gotcha covered Sister! Thank you for the prayers. I’m savoring every. single. one. <3
So glad you “get” my quirks. 😉
Much love, Sister. Much love.