This past summer, my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to take our children on a mission trip to N’Soko, Swaziland, a small country bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa. It was a life changing trip in so many ways, and the experience continues to affect my walk with God each day. While we were there, we had the amazing privilege of spending time with local widows and children, many of whom are orphans as Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Although the women and children are desolate, poverty-stricken and desperate for a nurturing touch, their inner spirit screams with enthusiasm for our Lord, and it was completely refreshing to see. In addition to their passion for God, they also possess a love and servanthood for one another that was overwhelming. Being there, I felt as if I was witnessing what the body of Christ is supposed to look like – it was in its purest form.
As I transitioned back to my “real” world in the States after this trip, it took me a while to process everything I had seen. I kept wondering, despite their despicable living conditions, could the children and women in Swaziland I came to love be more blessed than me and my family and friends are here? I knew it was a crazy and irrational thought. After all, each day they are faced with obstacles of pure survival – simple, every day runs for us to the grocery store for food and medication are unfathomable fantasies for them. Still, this illogical thought continued to be one I couldn’t seem to shake. Why did the impoverished people we left thousands of miles away seem to have more of God’s precious Holy Spirit than I did? I knew I needed to reevaluate my walk with God and my walk with the world.
One of my biggest problems as a follower of Christ is learning how to follow Jesus’ words of “not belonging to this world” (John 15:19). It is something I struggle with on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis! I long to be salt and light, yet I feel as though sometimes, I’m just blending in with the scenery around me. Anyone relate? I forsake the responsibilities I have to honor Christ and, instead, hold onto the deceptive lies of this fallen world. I become like the people of Judah whom the Lord spoke of to the prophet Jeremiah, “my people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer. 2:13). Jesus tells us over and over again in the Gospels that He is that living water. Are my daily choices creating cracks in my personal cistern? Is that why I sometimes feel drained of His living water and subsequent power of His Holy Spirit?
I began to recognize the people I encountered in Swaziland do just the opposite of me – they deliberately renounce the world in which they live and cling to Christ. They don’t have the luxeries my life and those around me have. They, quite literally, only have Jesus. He is the eternal hope that their life here on earth isn’t their final destination. They certainly “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6); and as a result, the Lord has blessed them with the kind of water Jesus refers to when He is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. In the gospel of John, Jesus tells the woman “everyone who drinks this (world’s) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). This is a verse I must remind myself to claim as truth in my spiritual walk! Unlike my friends in Africa, my life here is comfortable, pleasurable, and secure, but these blessings will never quench the thirst of my soul. For I was created in the image of my King, and only His spring of living water will satisfy – only His spring will bring me wisdom, knowledge, and true joy.
As I close today, I leave reflecting on the lives of those believers who are truly suffering in the body of Christ. May we kneel at our Savoir’s spring in honor of them this week, so that the King’s water may fill us and splash onto the lives of those around us.
Until next week, sipping a glass from the King… Katie