Surprisingly, a stark difference between Nairobi and my home is the weather. Texas is infamously known as the land of pre-summer, summer, post-summer, and Christmas. Kenya, on the other hand, has four distinct and predictable seasons: summer, winter, the long rains, and the short rains. Whereas Texas’ weather is seemingly erratic with its drastic temperature changes, huge thunderstorms, and indefinite droughts, Kenya’s seasons come and go with uncanny regularity. Right now, our visitation of the long rains is in full force—I have never seen so much water fall from the sky in such short amounts of time. Admittedly, a Texas thunderstorm may be more dramatic (and oh how I miss them!), but the deluges in which I find myself here are quite indescribable and incomparable.
|"And after the storm, I run and run as the rains come, and I look up. I look up, on my knees and out of luck, I look up."|
Just as our physical world has its distinct seasons, our spiritual world also has its own—seasons of rain and drought, and seasons of plenty and want. In these seasons I find myself rereading specific scriptures, reciting certain prayers, rehashing old conversations, reminding myself of God’s promises, and retaking what seem to be the same old steps towards my sanctification.
I have been in this season before. It is one in which I find myself panting for rather than partaking of the Well of Living Water. It is one in which I seem to find myself not understanding new revelations but rather relearning the old ones because I can’t seem to get them right. It is a season of physical and emotional weariness. It is one in which I can’t really remember the last time life slowed down. It is one in which it is far too easy to rationalize gratifying my flesh with my besetting sins than it is to live the new holy and righteous life that was purchased for me by the blood of Jesus Christ.
If that sounds like nonsense, it is because it is. If this sounds like a bunch of excuses, it is probably because they it is. If you think I should just man up, put on the full armor of God, and walk in the freedom, joy, and peace He has for me, it is because you are absolutely right. I am not trying to complain, justify my behavior, or make excuses—I am trying to be honest. And part of this honesty is acknowledging where I have been, where I am, and that God has mercifully and graciously drawn me back unto Him and shown me the way Home.
|"Night has always pushed up day. You must know life to see decay. But I won't rot. I won't rot, not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot."|
Like I said, this season is not new. When it comes—and it does come—I almost always turn to the book of Hosea. In it, I am Israel, who has forsaken YHWH and run instead to lifeless and loveless idols; I am Gomer, the adulteress whose freedom was purchased not once but twice by her faithful and forgiving husband; I am a mere man full of insecurities, fears, and sins unbeknownst to most but hauntingly familiar to me.
That is me, but God is God. He is unchangeable—He is not shaken or surprised by the so-called unpredictable seasons of my life. Instead, in His severe mercy, He promises to block my path to idols so that I will not find any satisfaction in my pursuit of them (2:5-8), expose my sin and allow for its natural consequences to come to pass so that I become desperate for Him again (2:9-13), and draw me nearer unto Himself with kindness, mercy, love, and tender compassion (2:14-23). When I return to my God and say, “We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made,” he replies, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (14:3-4).
It is in this moment that I remember who I really am: A child of God, the Bride of Christ, who has been justified but is still being sanctified, who is in this world but not of it, and who is striving to overcome the wiles of my former slave master by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. In Him, there is no condemnation for me—only conviction. And in the proper response to this conviction, there is only forgiveness. And in that forgiveness, there is only intimacy. And this intimacy is never lacking in wonder, beauty, joy, or life. And in His embrace, I wonder why I ever left home in the first place.
|"And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears."|
Even now as I sit here, typing away underneath an outdoor canopy, it is raining all around me. In this moment, I rest assured, knowing that despite a season of self-induced drought, the rain He has promised will engulf me yet again. Because of this year in Kenya, I now know to expect the rain. It will come. And as I wait, I must, in the words of Hosea, sow for myself righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up my unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on me (10:12).
The rain will come. And when it comes, it softens what was once hard, saturates what was once dry, and resurrects what was once dead. When God’s rain comes, there is no stopping it. It pours. It floods. It overwhelms.
And it carries us away.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
– Hosea 6:1-3
Photo captions are lyrics from "After the Storm," written and performed by the one and only Mumford & Sons.