Welcome Zion // Scandalous Grace

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour.” – ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong United

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This past Friday night the Jozi 3 and several other friends were privileged to worship with thousands of Africans and Hillsong United. To say that the time of worship was refreshing would be an understatement.

Every time I’ve attended a Hillsong United concert, I have found myself worshipping with abandon as Christ pours His mercy and love over me, refilling of my draining cup. This time was no different. But, this time, every song that we sang had a different meaning in light of being on the mission field. The lyrics were applicable in a new and unique way.

Let me give you some examples.

As we sang lyrics like “You hold the universe, You hold everyone on earth” faces of children in the community of poverty- and crime-stricken Alex were flashing through my mind. In the midst of such a sinful and dark place, I can become overwhelmed at the need. Every time we visit, we hear of another story of rape or abuse. But the Lord reminded me that He does know and love those people, that He is familiar with their suffering, and that their sin breaks His heart so much more than mine.

“I know You’re here with me.”
This is so much more significant to me when I’m on the other side of the world surrounded by the unfamiliar.

“You are all I need.”
I’m learning just how hard that line is to sing, and in no way am I alone here. I’ve got two incredible teammates and a plethora of co-workers, but there are still many times where I feel alone here. So telling God that He is all I need looks a lot different when I’m experiencing even a small amount of loneliness than when I’m home surrounded by people who love me.

“You never fail and You won’t start now.”
This encourages me more than ever when I am distracted by my weaknesses, which can easily become my focus here. I don’t know why in the world the Lord chose me, except for the fact that He uses the least likely subjects to accomplish His purposes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can list dozens of people who could do this better than me. Who could love harder and be less selfish. But I can rest in the fact that God will never fail and He will find strength in my weakness.

“My God is mighty to save.”
I’m not going to lie, this song has been sung. A lot. But I tend to forget just how powerful this statement is. When I meet an Islamic Imam or Buddhist priest, or when I look into the eyes of a Muslim woman in a full burka, it is difficult for me to believe that God can radically change their hearts and minds. They are so deeply infused by their beliefs that they are blinded to the truth and I too easily forget that He IS mighty to save. Salvation is a miracle, whether it comes to a child at VBS or to a Muslim Imam, and God is still in the business of performing miracles every single day. His love is relentless, and He is ever-pursuing His people.

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What amazing, scandalous, unfathomable grace is this, that He would look upon sinners and offer redemption…

“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6


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