I met Joanna in the lobby an hour early and we headed out to Monica’s village. She wanted to come to church with us. We walked a lot of miles that day looking for her. After the first thirty minutes, I became more and more irritated with every step I took. Every winding dirt path that led to another grass roof hut that looked exactly like the last one we thought might have been hers … I felt like I was running up the down escalator, never quite reaching the place I actually needed to go.
And I thought it was peculiar how I kept seeing this strange pattern. A hen with baby chicks. A momma duck with ducklings. A dog with puppies. In retrospect I realized that all along that seemingly pointless wandering to find Monica, God was heralding the coming of new life.
“Press on, child. What you see in these living parables along your path now, you’ll see in the Spirit next.”
But of course in the moment this isn’t what I’m hearing. Because I was hot and tired, and we were missing worship. I was ready to give up. We couldn’t get a hold of Monica on her phone, and we were lost in her village.
Joanna, though, steadfast as she is — she wasn’t giving up.
“We have to get her to church. We’re not leaving without her.” She was preaching perseverance and my flesh was too thick between my ears and my heart to really receive it…
…but, well, I wasn’t going to cross her. So we waited some more. Minutes that felt like hours later, a phone call finally went through. Monica was on her way. She finally made it to where we were, and we walked about 20 minutes in the wrong direction plus 20 more minutes back before finally catching a bota to church. I was certain we’d missed it all by now.
Wrong again. It was kind of starting to hurt.
Of course we made it just at the right time. We found Monica’s friend Doreen, who we’d also met in the market that week. Somehow (or not-so-somehow but by the grace of God) she made it, too. Despite us not being able to reach her all week.
And these two women, whom Joanna had led to Jesus earlier that week, both raised their hands to be baptized the following week.
The chicks, ducklings and puppies suddenly fled back into my mind. Newness of life. Of course God knew.
Later that afternoon, as I sat down to write all this down, the clouds were rolling in. And I thought, “How timely. Of course the rain is coming.”
Because God always brings the rain to the sun-scorched land when we ask, and when it rains, it pours. Grace, grace, grace … and I was reminded of a word from a friend earlier that week: this trip will be marked by an ocean of grace. And let’s be honest, my heart needed cleansing that day.
So I stopped, and I looked out over the plains and watched the clouds, awaiting the rain.
And I take a deep breath. There really is a lot of life out there today.