By Kari Miller
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4: 16
Life here in Uganda has become a beautiful experience of new relationships. Each day I have been provided with an opportunity to love and be loved. My heart has increased its capacity, and my walls I had built to keep others out have been crumbling. There is a new freedom that exists in forgetting myself and embracing the joys and sorrows of others. There is a view of God that is only visible when we let go of ourselves and fall head-long into Gods great love. The letting go can be terrifying. It feels as if we might lose everything, but it isnt long before we realize that we have gained much more than we feared to lose.
I love the widows. I love their faces. They are faces that wear deep lines of sorrow, pain, heartache, unfulfilled dreams, frustrated plans and deep love for their children. Their eyes are my favorite part. They show a deep commitment to the one who promised to never leave them, never forsake them and to count them as blessed. Their eyes dance with hope. Hope in a God that claims them as his treasured beauty. He told us in the book of James that pure religion is taking care of widows in their distress. He mentions them in scripture by name. From the beginning of time, God has interceded for widows and begs all of us to act on his behalf. If your spouse were suffering, would you not move heaven and earth to relieve their pain?
This week when Joyce and I entered the meeting place of my beloved widows, there was a great eruption of wild shouts and cheers. Have you ever heard joy unabashed? I was taken aback by the sheer volume of the noise, yet drawn close by the pure happiness of the moment. When the ladies finally relieved themselves of their loud cries of joy, Ruth, their chairperson, told me that they had spent the last year praying that God would send someone to help them. Someone to see their pain. Someone to care. She told me of the times they had fasted and gathered together to pray for a rescuer. Ruth looked at me intently and said that they were now celebrating that God had sent me. We recognized you by the love you have for us. It is genuine and real. Again the loud shouts came. I sat there and shook inside. Can they see how weak I am? Do they know my imperfections? Have they seen my failures? How can I be a rescuer?
It is an awesome responsibility to be in loving relationships. It carries with it great pleasure and great potential, as well as great potential for failure. I realized as I felt the very hairs on my neck stand up that only God could be a rescuer; however, he somehow needed me to do it. I needed help, so I went to the only place I knew to get it. Snuggling in the loving arms of the Father, I received enough courage to enter fully into this love affair with these widows. Ruth was now calling on me to speak to these dear women. I stood, opened my Bible and talked about the great love of God – a God who connects privileged Christians in the West with beloved Christians of Africa. I told them about a woman who was spending her time and talent making a scripture book for them. I told them about a group of people who wanted to give of their resources to help them acquire adequate housing.
Then, I told them that God blesses those that love deeply from the heart. It is their love for each other and for God that brought this blessing and it will be their continued love that makes this blessing a reality. I warned them against the evils that money can bring – jealousy, envy, greed, and anger. Dont let this money divide you; let the blessing bring you deeper into love for God and each other. As I finished, several women stood to clap and to ask their fellow widows to stay committed to God and not to the money.
They encouraged one another to think of how to bless the widow next to her instead of herself. Have you ever bathed in love? Seen it in human form? Seen it given in practical ways? I have in that moment. Ruth said, Ladies, I want all of you to get a house before I do. God will take care of me, so I will be the first to put my fellow widow ahead of me. This started a chain reaction of widows giving the right of way to other widows. I could feel God breathing on my neck. It was so close. It was so magnificent.
Suddenly, a woman stood and said, Please, I must speak. I feel I might burst if I dont sing praise to God right now. She burst into a beautiful song about Gods love. Suddenly we were all caught up in it. We were standing, arms waving in the air, our feet swaying and our mouths singing about Gods great love. It was almost too much to experience all at once. I shook againthis time with holy goose bumps.
As the meeting came to a close, Ruth stood and asked the widows to outstretch their hands and pray for me. Can we now bless our daughter? She has come in love for us. Lets now pray that God gives her a great love. A great husband to love and honor her. Suddenly, a hundred voices in three different languages were praying for mecalling down a great blessing from heaven. They were crying out and lifting their hands to heaven. I stood before them and cried. My chest heaved as I cried. The love was just so great. How could they know my hearts desire? How could I be worthy of this love? Then, these dear women prayed for the privileged western Christiansthose who have decided to be in relationship with them. They prayed that God would bless them beyond measure. Then we prayed for the land that God would prepare for them. We ended by telling God how mighty and magnificent He is. Suddenly, we were cheering again. All I could think was God is great and greatly to be praised!
As I left that place each widow held me and called me daughter. I had become a part of them. I was in a committed relationship full of love and joy. I walked toward the mini-bus, holding hands with two widows and feeling joy. It was a moment to remember.
Have you felt joy like that? Do you know Gods great capacity for love? You will find it in the least of these. Maybe that is why God said that the last will be first and the first will be last. It is us, the privileged ones, that see love last. It is only when we let go of all we hold on to that we will free-fall into a love so magnificent that it can not be contained in words. It is a long journey to the least, the lost and the left-out sometimes, but one well worth it. In fact, it is a journey towards the heart of God.
If you liked this article, check out:
- A Day Like No Other: Life in Africa
- At Home with the Widows
- Back But Not Home: An American Adjusts to America
Kari Miller is a 4th grade teacher who is passionate about loving Jesus and loving others. She longs to inspire others to love the least, the lost and the left-out.