Monday, December 18, 2006

For a number of days I have been unable to sleep throughout the night and often have awoken in the morning working through thoughts racing in my mind. Although this is not uncommon, recently there have been continuous threads of one thought running about and coming together at on point, one question: What are Gods hopes and dreams for heaven on earth?

When I contemplate Gods hopes and dreams for a heaven on earth, I cannot help but wonder what that may look like in the everyday, tangible, demonstrable sense. I believe that having an intimate personal relationship with Christ is important. Yet, I can’t help but hope and believe that God is so much greater than the hopes and information I toss around in my mind and the feelings and emotions which tread on my heart.

I am beginning to think that God is best demonstrated in an everyday sense through the organic and beautiful simplicity of daily “life together”. Since moving to Morocco I have been drawn into His natural beauty of “life together.” Life together with one another as well as with the land we occupy.

Each morning Jake and I arise we begin our life together simply through spending time together - talking, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company in the bright sunlight of the Sahara. We do laundry together in the basin of warmed water and make breakfast together from the apples of a local farm or from the eggs laid by the chickens down the road. We give together, talking with and providing what we can for those who are without. We visit friends together, drinking tea, communicating through broken Arabic, acting out desired paths of communication and as a natural consequence, laughing together. Greatest of all though, we listen to one another and in return, learn from each other and from our neighbors.

There is beauty in searching for this "life together" I think. Through trying our best (and sometimes not) to demonstrate heaven on earth, a new sense of obligation and appreciation has begun to manifest itself in my own life as well as in my relationship with others. I am now questioning more often if there is a better way I can best utilize the resources I have been given and make more beautiful this “life together” I have been given to live with others. I wonder more often if I can more intimately connect with others and the soil of which I walk on. I speculate the possibilities of what more I could do to offer the community I live with opportunities to experience “life together” where God is experienced by all.

I am finding more and more of how often Jesus speaks of heaven on earth as being a place where the poor and meek are blessed. I am fniding that He promises time and time again to bless those who are persecuted for doing what is right as well as those who stand up for the sake of doing what is right (seeking justice) and make it a habit to demonstrate peace. In fact, I think that I am coming to believe that Jesus asks us, as His Beloved, to undermine the ways things are to welcome in the way things could and should be: overflowing with forgiveness, sacrifice, and love.

Morocco has taken my “life together” with Him and with others to a new level of awareness and insight. My time here has also provided new evidence for a rededication to serving Christ as I am coming to believe He dreams of.

I sense now more than ever an organic connection to the water I use to wash my clothes, the food I use to satisfy my hunger, the resources I use to heat my home or use or clothe myself. I think He dreams of this connection… I think He dreams of me coming to know Him better by understanding how salt affects food and light affects the darkness…

I am finding more joy in the simplicity of limited choices in comparison to my life in the states.
I am falling deeper in love with the grander of His creation. The magnificence of the High Atlas mountains, the splendor of the vast Sahara, the exquisiteness of mud homes, and the great benefits of how His creation is utilized rather than wasted. I think He dreams of this simplistic joy…

I am finding myself more alive in conversation with others; finding greater freedom in my speech and ability to listen and learn. I am finding how gently, subtly, and indirectly Jesus often spoke to others when sharing with them how to live life abundantly with God while still respecting their dignity and free will to discover and choose as they feel convicted and lead. Often I wonder, do I represent and talk of Jesus through invitation, attraction, intrigue, enticement, and challenge or am I representing Him through a forcing nature? I think He dreams of these conversations and convictions…

I am finding Him more intimately involved in the subtle conversations that center on sharing and talking about the freedom, creativity, kindness, justice, generosity, peace, diversity, harmony, and teachings of both Jesus and Mohamed. I think He dreams of this intimacy and open dialouge between His Beloved in life together…

I am finding life more dynamic each day as I hope to work against acceptance or encouragement of racism, religious division, moral double-standards, ethnic partisanship, economic injustice, or class barriers. Instead, I hope I demonstrate His consistency through offering a welcoming home and table for others that is drenched with kindness, respect, healing, enjoyment, reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. I think He dreams of this dynamic daily reconciliation and demonstration of working toward a peaceful and joyful life together…

I am learning how to be more present with, intimately involved in, participatory, active, and engaged within community affairs which affect the lives of families and the greater community. I think He dreams of this daily presence with one another as we live life together…

I am finding more and more that Jesus’ message is one that takes root, precipitates reconciliation, infiltrates and transforms humanity. I think that in order to live the best I can with and for Him, I need to continually be in a state of demonstrating an accent of gratitude, encouragement, truth telling, admitting faults, and celebration of joys. I am wondering more often what more could I do to step beyond the subtle Christian sins which are often consumed with issues such as lust, greed, arrogance, and prejudice of heart and mind? Is my home a place where God is at home in, takes pride and pleasure in, and where His dreams come true? Am I offering generosity to my neighbors regardless of circumstance or convenience? I think God dreams of these convictions and questions I struggle with…

I don’t believe I am alone in my questions, thoughts, or pathways of exploration. As I was teaching English the other day my students and I began to discuss the five pillars of Islam (1 – belief in One God and follow the teaching of Mohamed, 2 – prayer, 3 – fasting, 4 – zakat (tithe), and 5 – pilgrimage to Mecca {if financially possible}) in comparison to the various principles and practices of Christianity. We worked through each of them one by one and I began to hear them ask the same questions and express the sentiments as I have above. Seeking how they can best work to make the kingdom of God visible here on earth through the teaching which they follow.

Although from separate nations, different belief systems, dissimilar cultures, and diverse experiences, I am finding more and more how connected we are to one another because of our belief in God and our innate desire to live a "life together". I am beginning to think that God loves us the same and, if we are continually seeking after Him, He will continue to grow within each one of us both personally as well as communally. I am beginning to wonder if these connections are ones that God was dreaming of when He shared with us, through Jesus Christ, that if we love others He will work through that love and make a heaven here on earth.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Indian Lake Papa said...

Thank you Jessica. You and Jake are helping each of us look a little deeper inside....

God bless,
Indian Lake Papa

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jessica!

Robin

Delia said...

Beloved Jessica, how awesome to read your thoughts and contemplations. Keep living out the second and greatest command. He's proud of you and so am I.

Anonymous said...

you will never fully realize just how much i love and appreciate you, your joys, your struggles, your questions, and your amazing laugh! - mariko

Anonymous said...

Dear Jessica,
After reading your eloquent writings, all I can say is that I wish I had the courage to follow in yours and Jake's footsteps. Or even better, travel with you. I know deep in my heart that I could learn so much from two of my favorite people. You two would be able to teach me so much of what I am yearning to experience and learn. I love you. Beth