So, before coming to Kenya, everyone was telling me how hot the Kenyan sun would be and how I needed to be careful to not get too badly sunburned. Now, being the fair-skinned redhead that I am, I really needed no warning. I’m pretty sure I could get sunburned in the middle of the night, standing in a blizzard, at the North Pole. So, I know the procedure here. Wear a hat, put on sunscreen (preferably SPF 400), and try and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. So, there was no way that I would spend 5 weeks in Kenya without bringing a reliable hat. When I left the States, my hat looked brand new. It was only a few months old, had been taken care of, and was in really good shape. Now, two weeks into my time in Kenya, it is stained, faded, and smelling pretty bad. However, no matter how old it gets or how bad it looks, it still serves the same purpose just as well. It still keeps the sun off of my face the same way that it did on the day that it came off the shelf.
I think sometimes our lives can go through the same seasons that my hat has gone through. Sometimes things are great and easy and we don’t fade or get stains. Then, other times, we go from feeling brand new to completely useless in the blink of an eye. Life is hard. It hurts. It wears us out, but no matter how bad we may be feeling, we still have the opportunity to serve the same purpose as we do in the good times.
But how can we serve that purpose if we don’t even know what our purpose is? Well, let me tell you a secret… We all serve the same purpose. We, along with the rest of creation, were created to give glory to God. Now, obviously we can all do that in different ways, but ultimately our purpose is to glorify God in all of our actions. Whether we are having a good or bad day is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter if we are in the prime of life or on our deathbeds, we are here to serve God no matter our current situation.
If I’m being completely honest, today, I’m feeling a lot like my hat looks. We are two weeks into our time in Kenya, and I am tired, frustrated, and confused. Really confused. But I still have the opportunity to glorify God in my exhaustion. I can serve Him in my frustrations. I can talk to Him through my confusion. But that’s really hard to do, and I’m really weak. I want to be able to glorify God in everything that I do, but I fail almost constantly. I wish it was as easy for me to glorify God right now as it is when I’m feeling great about life, but that’s just not the case.
So, I feel like I have to fight for it. I think that I have to battle through my struggles on my own. Unfortunately, that’s a fight I lose a lot. But here is the best news yet: it’s a battle that I don’t have to fight alone. You see, I serve an eternal, omniscient, omnibenevolent, perfect God who is fighting with me and for me. And guess what? He’s already won. So, I don’t have to fight anymore. I get to find my rest and my peace in Him and His love. The hard days will still come, but not for long. These days will be over before we know it, and then we will get to revel in the victory of the One True King for the rest of eternity.
I want to be more like my hat. I want to serve my purpose no matter how bruised and beaten I feel. I want to glorify God on the days that it doesn't come easily.
A post from Cody Poinsett.
God has a funny way of teaching His people, doesn't he? I am 21 years old, 1 year away from graduating college, and I know absolutely nothing. A year from now I will be on my own. Like, completely on my own. I have to be a real adult. There is no way that I am ready for that next step, and it is coming whether I'm prepared or not. This is absolutely terrifying. I have to decide what job I want to pursue, if I want to go to graduate school, where I want to live, and the rest of the countless decisions that are a natural part of this next stage of my life. I know that there is no way that I am ready for this, but I am a lot closer than I was. Since graduating high school and moving to college, I have grown more than I ever imagined in more ways than I could have possibly expected. The really cool part about this growth is that it has nothing to do with what I have done. It has had nothing to do with any effort, or lack thereof, that I have put in. You see, I have been growing because the Lord has been constantly putting me in positions to prepare me for what is yet to come, and I thank Him for that. He has been shaping and molding me into a person that can be a better servant in His Kingdom.
Today, I went into Eastleigh for the first time. Eastleigh is located in one of the slums here in Kenya, and is also where MITS was founded. This is the location that most students come from before moving to the compound here in Kamulu. It was amazing to see the difference between the kids that live in Kamulu and work with Made in the Streets full time and the kids that are still living on the streets in and around Eastleigh. Witnessing the differences in behavior and personality between the two sets of students was astounding. The boys in Eastleigh today were mostly high, falling asleep in their short class sessions, and struggled to communicate effectively or confidently. However, the students that have been accepted into the MITS program full-time are off drugs, eager to learn, and have developed really impressive social skills.
I have become friends with a student named Keith. Keith is 18 years old and will graduate from MITS having received an education in salon skills. The other day, I asked Keith if he was excited to graduate. He told me that he was excited, but scared to fail. Honestly, it was the same answer that I would give to anyone who might ask me the same question. That is when I realized that Keith and I are the same. We are two people who are about to transition from one phase of life to the next, and we're both apprehensive about it. It doesn't matter where we have come from or where we are going. God has put both Keith and I in situations that will better prepare us for the plans that He has for our lives. I have gone from being a mean, angry, selfish, hurtful, and scared high school student, to a growing and passionate college student that has so much to learn. Keith has gone from being a street kid on drugs, to being a student that is ready to go on and live a successful life as a contributing member of society. Neither of us could have done this on our own.
To the naked eye, Keith and I have nothing in common. A 21 year old white college student from the States and an 18 year old Kenyan salon student from the streets of Nairobi. But Keith and I have more in common than meets the eye. We are in the same stage of life and have the same emotions about it. And we are both servants of the Lord even though neither of us are worthy of working in His kingdom.
The story is as old as time. Someone inadequate is used by God to further His Kingdom. Gideon, the weakest man in the weakest tribe, was used to defeat an army of thousands. Saul, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a pharisee, and a persecutor of the church turned into one of the most impactful Christians in all of history who wrote more books of the Bible than anyone else, even going as far as to change his name to Paul. Peter, the one who denied his best friend, Jesus Christ, 3 times at the time of his crucifixion, is the same one who was the rock on which the Church was built. And Jesus himself, the son of a carpenter from Nazareth, is the very man that saved all of humanity with His perfect sacrifice. This is what God does. He uses the small, the weak, and the inadequate to change the world. That is what He is doing with me and that is what He is doing with Keith.
It makes no difference where we come from, what we look like, or what we have. The Father views us all the same because we are all the same. We are all loved children of the father. We are all being used as a part of His perfect plan. He can do anything through any person, regardless of how the rest of the world views them. While Keith and I may not know what is in our future, we are able to find solace in the fact that we serve a Heavenly Father who has plans far bigger and better than any we could ever conjure on our own. He is preparing us for a life of service for Him, the greatest adventure of all, and I cannot wait to see where it takes us.
My name is Cody Poinsett. I am a senior Bible Major at Harding University. This summer, I am serving as a Handmade Intern with MITS and I cannot wait to see what else this summer has in store. Thanks!
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