Monday, April 1, 2013

A Holy Moment

So, I am what you’d call a “processor”. Meaning: It takes me awhile to process through major events and situations in my life. I’m GREAT at quickly processing everyone else’s stuff…but slow on the uptake when it comes to my own life. Case in point: my recent trip in February to South Sudan with the Flatirons missions team. Even though I’ve been back home for over a month now…I’m still working through what I experienced over there…especially my “Holy Moment”.
I’ll get to that in a second.  
The entire trip to Africa was amazing. It was amazingly far away. It was amazingly exotic and beautiful. And it was an amazingly difficult trip…emphasis on “difficult”! Our team of eleven (9 men and 2 women) also got along amazingly! We got to know each other in ways we never foresaw or expected. I guess that’s what happens when ALL semblance of privacy gets chucked out the window and you experience some stuff with friends that you’ve never experienced with your own wife! I mean, Amy and I have been married for almost 32 years, but I’ve never “dropped a deuce” side-by-side with her…like I had to with my buddy Andy Wineman!
No. That was NOT my Holy Moment.   
No…the real revelation from the trip was this: The Bible simply came alive to me! It was almost immediate. Watching the sheep, goats and cattle—led by the village shepherd boys—roaming in…through…and around us made it obvious that the culture and living conditions of Maper are much more like EVERYTHING we read in the Bible than ANYTHING we can ever experience here in 21st Century America.
It was easy for me to envision the story of Jacob...who worked 7 years for Laban as a shepherd....payment for the chance to wed Rachel (Genesis 29). Then, after being tricked (and given Laban’s other daughter Leah) Jacob then worked another 7 years as a shepherd for Laban. And listening to Jim Burgen teach through Jesus’ Three Lost Parables (The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son—Luke 15), I could see each and every one of those parables being lived out in this tiny African village.
But the culmination of all this came at the end of our stay in South Sudan. As a symbol of gratitude and generosity, the leaders in Maper gifted our team with a lamb to take home. Needless to say, we couldn’t really take it back to the States, but we did throw it in the back of the van on Saturday and drove it the 2 ½ hours back to Rumbek—where it became Sunday night dinner.
And this was my Holy Moment. I had the privilege of slaughtering the lamb.
Slaughtering the Lamb in Rumbek, South Sudan

I know how weird, creepy and harsh that may sound, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I was asked if I would do the honor of slaughtering the lamb for dinner…and I agreed to do it. And at that moment…that Holy Moment…when I somberly took the knife to do what I’d been asked to do…all of scripture came flooding over me.
The blood sacrifice is such an integral part of the Bible, and the centerpiece of all we believe, culminating in the blood sacrifice of Jesus—the Lamb of God (John1:36). And as I slaughtered this lamb…this gift…this sacrifice…I was overwhelmed by the sacrificial imagery God has given us in the Bible…and I was filled with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us…through His body and His blood. It was a Holy Moment.
Now, I know we can’t all experience what I got to experience in South Sudan, but one thing I do know for sure: All of us, as believers in Jesus, will one day all get together in Heaven to thank Him face-to-face for what He’s done. For His grace… His mercy…and His sacrifice…paid for with His blood.

And I know I will be joined by my friends in Maper...and it will be the greatest of Holy Moments.

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