Afflictions Eclipsed by Glory
I am half a world away. I am in the jungle, and the night is cool, dark, and humid. In front of me lie green trees as endless as the ocean, disappearing as the mountains meet the sky, forming a glorious horizon. I am lying down. I feel the hard concrete pressing against my head. I look up towards the heavens, and a sea of God's stars shine back at me. Resonating through the headphones resting on my head, I hear the words repeating, "He loves us, O how He loves us." At the sights I take in and the words playing into my ears, my soul becomes overwhelmed and satisfied as my finite mind attempts to comprehend His infinite love for me.
I have failed Him, yet He has forgiven me. He has given me more than I need, and I have ignored him. He has reached out to me, while I have backed away. He has chosen me, but I haven't chosen Him. He has given me a second chance, and I haven't thanked Him. He has given me His Word, yet I haven't even talked to Him. He has shown me His ways, and I haven't honored Him. He has rescued me, and I have abandoned Him. He died for me, why don't I live for Him?
I am beginning to sweat now. Once again, the words pierce into my soul: "He loves us, O how He loves us." I think about the way He formed the stars that are hung in the sky. I think about the vast and elaborate, yet detailed and precise universe He has given us. I remember that when He created me, He knew that I was one of His chosen people. I remember that He knows the number of hairs on my head. I remember that He allowed his Son to be crucified on the cross to reconcile the relationship between us. The song continues, and I am reminded that I am redeemed by the love of my Savior - "If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking."
I turn on my side, and I begin to recall the scriptures: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). My mind races because I know that this is not the life I am living. I ask myself, "isn't it enough that I am here, serving a community in a foreign country? After all, I am carrying out the Great Commission!" But I know the answer is no, it isn't enough. Because when I am home, I turn a blind eye to the poor, naked, and hungry. Once again, scripture invades my mind, and I remember the words of the apostle John, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (1 John 3:17).
I roll onto my back again, and see that the clouds above me are beginning to cover the sea of twinkling stars and I hear the song continue: "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us." My heart and mind have stopped. I feel the sweat grow thicker. A tear forms in my eye. He reminds me once again that His grace and love will cover me no matter how many times I fail to please Him. His love for me is too much to comprehend. At this moment, I declare in my heart and in my soul, with everything that I am, that my sole purpose is to approach the throne of God and hear my Father in heaven say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
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