This Sunday’s church service was really different and pretty remarkable. We started with the worship group as usual, but this Sunday they were just so on it! They were mostly New Life kids and I was so amazed by their skill. All the instrumentalists could play every instrument, and the lead singer was this girl, Jane, who I have taught before and I had no idea what a stunning voice she had. Strong, deep, and gentle…man, I was blown away. If that wasn’t enough one of most popular gospel singers in Tanzania, Upendo Kilahiro, joined the musicians for the last few songs, as she was in town from the Uzima Launch Conference that ended the day before. Maybe this incredible musical energy fed the sermon to equal its strength.
The sermon was about prophecy. Baba preached a very short sermon about Saul from the Corinthians. He shared a bible story about how one time Saul couldn’t find his donkeys, so he asked God where they were. When his neighbor and family did not know, he turned to God. Baba theorized that God lost the donkeys on purpose so that Saul could be found. Saul was not a perfect man – he had performed many a sin and did not always rely on the Lord. But God put him in a place of need so that He could help Saul out in a far greater way than just helping him locate the donkeys.
God lost the donkeys so Saul could be found. This presents a different perspective on an element of faith that has always bothered me: we are most likely to look to God in a time of need.
A few years back, my Mom’s only sister passed away. She was young and lively, a big part of our lives. I remember when I found out I was shocked and confused, so I began to pray to God for the first time in a long time. I grew instantly angry with myself for falling into the illusive trap of faith. I, who had chosen for the past few years to not prioritize faith, was suddenly praying my heart away because it was convenient; it was the only answer I had left. Just like Ancient Greeks and Romans used their Gods to explain elements they struggled to understand such as rain, light, and tidal patterns, I used my God to help me grasp death at a young age. I was angry with myself for depending upon the comfortable illusion that my confusion could be accurately reasoned by a higher power. We learned thousands of years later that science was the true answer to the prayers of the polytheistic ancients, so why should it be any different for me?
Well maybe there is more than one explanation for the weather. Maybe science handles that which can be explained, now or in the future, but all else is really in the hands of someone or something else.
Maybe, there’s a great finger pushing around the chess pieces so that every now and then, when we get knocked down in some way or another and are forced the look up and say, “Who did that? And why?” But maybe that Finger isn’t even asking us to look up. Maybe It wants us to look around too. Saul went first to his family and friends. I joined my family and friends in mourning when we faced the loss of my aunt. Maybe a primary part of being found stretches beyond our relationship with that Finger and into our relationships with those around us. We are all familiar with the idea that pain and suffering draws us closer, but what if it doesn’t end there? What if that’s the whole point of the pain to begin with?