I intend to one day write an epic poem about how much I love free refills and dryer sheets. But really, I don’t think any of us can handle that kind of emotion today.
The beauty of this blog is I get to talk about whatever happens to pop into my head at any given moment. Everything from what’s going on in Muslim Africa to how much I like cake is fair game.
Oh goodness, do I ever like cake.
But today isn’t about cake. Today’s story starts with Ben.
If you’re new, Ben and I have co-led the team in Dakar for the past year and a half, and over the course of that time he’s become a sort of adopted brother. I tell him when he’s dressing like a homeschooler and offer him extensive lectures concerning his love life, while he, in turn, critiques my taste in sunglasses [he says mine make me look like a bug] and tells me to stop whining.
We’re a match made in heaven. Or Bellevue. But at the end of every day, he’s one of my favorite people and I have an incredible amount of respect for him.
Back in January, the fact that I was leaving Dakar didn’t have time to sink in between finding out I needed to fly back to North Carolina, and actually boarding my flight. The day before I left, Ben handed me an envelope that said “For the plane”. [After living with me for a year and a half, he’s caught on to the fact that letters are the surest and quickest way to my heart. Well, letters and coffee. And cake. And dryer sheets.] I was re-reading that letter this morning, and decided to let you see a piece of it. It made me tear up on the plane ride home [something that’s almost impossible to do]-and it’s packed full of things I have the tendency to forget. Maybe you do, too-regardless, this one’s worth a read.
As I write this, you are downstairs packing for an emergency flight out of Senegal via SOS. The next couple days or weeks could be filled with a lot of fear and uncertainty. ….Don’t worry about a thing in Dakar. Your illness is outside your control. I’ll run the show here [well, Jesus will run the show] and you concentrate on getting healthy. And do me a favor. Don’t waste your illness. Consider John 11:4 and Lazarus, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” I don’t want to play fast and loose with sacred writing, but I think this text gives a general understanding about illness. Christ uses illness for God’s glory, that His Son may be glorified. Although unexpected by us, I rest in God’s sovereign provision for your life. Nothing in all the world shall separate you from His love in Christ; not sickness, demons, powers, principalities, or death. The next couple weeks shall be sanctification on fast-forward for you. Imagine! You can, by faith, be a positively different person, for eternity, by cause of this “light and momentary affliction.” The Lord can produce “eternal glory” in you. You have a rare chance to fall in love with God in a deep, passionate, soul-satisfying way all over again. The Ashley we all see when you return can be so God-besotted that the world looks on and says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” [Phil 3:8-9] Ashley, I have a lot of confidence in God’s desire to work in and through you over this season of your life. Go make Christ look really valuable to your family and friends. Cause your team to marvel at the all-surpassing value of Christ. Stun the nurses and medical staff with your abounding joy in Christ. He has saved you and He shall keep you in, “the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” [Titus 2:13-14] ….Get well soon, because I’ll skin you alive if you make me do Dakar without you…
I love Ben’s challenge to use my life for God’s glory. To understand that next to Jesus, everything else pales. To be so
“God-besotted” that in comparison, everything else simply looks cheap and temporary. You and I-we’ve both been loved with an everlasting, entirely irrational love. And I think if we really understood that, we’d be able to say “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” Say it, and mean it.
Because Jesus really is infinitely more valuable than the things I tend to cling to. He’s better than being healthy-or even being able to walk. Better than being comfortable, or married, or that perfect job, or retiring, or cake and dryer sheets and free refills. And the way I live my life ought to reflect that.