“Wherever you are. Be all there.” – Jim Elliott
A few years ago I took a trip to Zambia and I couldn’t ever seem to get all there. Physically I was there. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally I was anywhere and everywhere except for where God had called me. Usually the things that keep me from being fully present is work, insecurities in my abilities and giftings, and missing my sweet Jen back home. For weeks before this trip I prayed that God would allow me to be fully present with him and his people in Zambia. He answered with a resounding yes over and over again.
At one point on this trip our team went to Victoria Falls….. we first went to the boiling pot which is a steep and easy walk down and a steep walk back up – that walk back up is enough to make you cry out to the Lord. When we were at the falls, of course I was reminded of the Lords power, creativity and finesse all in one spot as I heard the roar of the water as it fell down a beautiful cliff into a precise area and flowing out. The falls also reminded me to BE ALL IN!!!
I noticed that there were some people at Victoria Falls who were carrying umbrellas. This blew my mind. It was like they wanted to see the falls without really experiencing the showers. This looked like a waste of effort. There were others who wearing ponchos in an attempt to not get wet. This also seemed futile. My favorite was seeing these girls and young ladies and sometimes even young men who came all dressed up. Some of them even wearing mascara, lipstick and their hair done a certain way. Guess what??? One way or another they got to experience the falls and everything it had for them. Our team went with the older girls from Kwathu and we fully expected to get wet and soak it in. As we started out, we got just a sprinkling or a taste of that was to come.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Psalms 34:8 ESV
The further we went we got soaked and drenched with the goodness that was there. We did not take any precautions or inhibitions. We were fully exposed and vulnerable.
For one thing it was refreshing to be able to tilt our heads back, spread our arms straight out and scream as the shower poured down on us. We were tired and weary from the work after the boiling pot.
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus” – Acts 3:19-20
Once we were fully soaked and saturated in the fullness of the falls, we didn’t really need to be dry or try to preserve ourselves. We wanted to soak up the majesty that was before us.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” – Jude 1:21
How does the Lord want us to approach him? BE ALL IN!!!! Jump in and don’t hold back. Don’t try to cover up and preserve certain areas of your life. Give it all to him. Fully exposed and ready to be drenched. Once it’s drenched, let it soak. BE ALL IN!!! BE ALL THERE!!!
Being all in and all there allowed us to fully soak up, embrace and bask in the goodness that is our Father. Sometimes the Lord asks you to get involved in areas that may not “be your thang.” That’s when it’s time to throw back your arms and ask for help. Sometimes for me that’s playing with kids. Sometimes I’m awkward with my own kids, much less someone else’s that I don’t know. Of course, our first task was to hang with the kids. The Lord made the interactions so easy for us. Within a couple of hours we found ourselves hanging around a bonfire singing worship songs and learning new dance moves.
Fire and worship = my thang…. dancing, not so much.
The next day was a Sunday which means we are going to church. A cool experience, as a foreigner in another land, is to see how others worship around the world. Learn new ways to praise the Lord and pray in a couple of cool languages. One of my favorite Kwathu kids was set to go back to his village (for a time) since he turned 18 and wanted to reconnect with family. The Lord allowed us to be with him, see his new temporary home and pray with him. We left him there that day, but he knows we are fighting with and for him. We spent the day fully present and working to get our brother settled.
Our task for the next day and most week days was to help with the feeding of the children during school. Over 200 kids. Did I mention I’m awkward? The choice became – play with the kids while they wait for food or help cook. Does anyone know how to cook nshima???? Well…. since I struggle to cook toast, I thought maybe the kids might be my place. As the kids came through the line the Lord allowed me to tap into my natural goofiness to play and enjoy time with them. The time before the meals, with the children, became one of my favorite parts of the day. I am still not good with kids, but the Lord made me be there and made me good enough. We played “capture the Americans,” watched kids flip off cinder blocks, dug in the African sand and danced to pretty much any beat made. AND anything/anyone can drop a beat.
There were times throughout the trip where team members struggled to have their heart in the game and be all there. We all were there physically, but friends back home, worries of the unknown, or just fear of what we might be thrown into next, could easily distract us from being all in and all there.
Denver, who gained the nickname “bug bite” (for obvious reasons) did not let a little skin irritation sidetrack him from his good friends. He loved and hung out with Jerome during the day while he waited on Linto and Obet to get home from school. After school was over, he helped his friends with homework or chores so they could get to the important stuff – like digging in the dirt. He was community to them. All in and all there.
Being all in and all there means with our struggles too. One night we went to a cell group (small group) where we were expected to share and lead the group. We began to discuss the importance of saying “yes” to the Father. Through honesty and vulnerability, of our team, doors were opened for South Africans (living in Zambia) to do the same… to lay down things they had carried for too long and to have the courage to ask for prayer.
One of our goals of the trip was to bring Rebekah Lowery home from Zambia. She has been serving in Zambia for 10 months. Obviously she had a lot of goodbyes to say and folks who wanted to say farewell. Everywhere we went we were greeted by Rebekah’s Zambian family who told stories of her. She had been all in and all there. She wore several hats during her time. She was an auntie, a mama, a teacher and friend…just to name a few. Those of us that have walked this journey with Rebekah, over the past 2 years, know she almost backed out several times and even wanted to come home when she first arrived. Instead, the Lord gave her a home and she was all in and all there. By being all in and all there an impact is made, relationships are born, and lives are changed.
BE ALL IN. BE ALL THERE.