Good Friday morning ...
It was very early Monday morning ... the first day of July. I was away from home in Tanzania hunkered down in my tent in a small Maasai village. I could not sleep. There was an inner, agitating stirring that would not subside.
The entire night had been a restless tossing and turning from side to side ... until finally I reached for my travel clock. It was only 3am. Grudgingly I rolled out of my sleeping bag, donned some clothes and shoes and grabbed my headlamp. Quietly I exited my tent and wandered down the hill to the dirt road that ran north and south from the village. To the south was the main village, the elementary school, the village corn grinder, the little shop where you could buy sugar, tea, flour, soap and salt. To the north the road led downhill to a cluster of plain stick and mud huts. I chose to head north away from "civilization."
All of a sudden, I was overcome with an amazing sense of awe. It was startling to be so alone and to feel so small, but to also feel so safe in so grand a place. This awe of being all alone on a dusty, mountain road in primitive East Africa was not new. I had previously been overcome with such a sense on other visits to this special continent of God's creation.
But on this particular early Monday morning, there was an inviting mysteriousness to the scene, and I was drawn to take a downhill path into the bush, pulled by the mystery that lay beyond the circle of my nighttime vision.
My steps took me further downhill, meandering under the canopy of eucalyptus trees whose eerie shadows were cast upon my downward path by the moon hanging in the southern sky. I had no fear, no sense of danger, no desire to scurry back uphill to my waiting sleeping bag. I chose to be alone, absolutely alone, bearing no responsibility except for myself.
Finally, I stopped. I had come to a clearing and chose to sit on a solitary rock overlooking the hillside. Stretching my vision to its limit, I saw nothing in the distance ... no lights, no buildings, nothing man-made. I heard no sounds but the buzzing of an African morning teeming with unseen life. I felt no urgency, no pressure, no stress despite my sleeplessness ... as time seemingly escaped for the moment ... and I became lost in another world.
Nothing was happening! Nothing at all ... except ... unfiltered Africa! It was just me and a continent, all alone, set apart, intertwining lives, mating souls. And I was touched beyond feeling, crazed with a desire to stay ... experiencing life clearly, purely, intentionally in an unheard-of place ... and alone with my God.
It was then He taught me to pray for the dawn ... and as it came, first with whispers, then with sheets of brightness ... my awe was multiplied in sensing the presence of God. He left me alone to find my way back to my tent in time for a breakfast of fresh honey, bread and piping hot chai.
I felt the whisper of His presence through that entire day until night cradled me to sleep at the end of the day.
"Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?" [Psalm 139:7]
Have a great weekend in the Lord ...