Each day I walk 45 minutes to work all by my lonesome. To be honest, I hate that walk.

I hate that by the time I get to work, my feet, shoes and pants are covered in dirt. I hate that I have to hold my breath when I hear a bus approaching because it spits out black exhaust as it speeds by. I hate that people stare at me because I’m white. I hate that street children run up to me and beg me for money. I hate that my only alternative to walking to work is taking public transportation and sitting in traffic. I hate that crossing the street is like an actual game of Frogger. And I hate that I have to constantly worry about pickpockets.

There’s nothing comfortable, safe, or easy about that walk.

Recently, to make my walk a little more bearable, I decided to start spending those 45 minutes in conversation with God. Most of the time, that “conversation” sounds a lot like that paragraph you just read – a long list of complaints. Sometimes I complain to God the whole walk and don’t spend any time listening to him.

What is happening? My summer, which started with a palms-up learning approach, somehow turned into an arms-crossed complaint filled one.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10: 32-36

Clouds of thick, black exhaust have definitely interrupted my comfort!

Clouds of thick, black exhaust have definitely interrupted my comfort this summer!

When I finally took the time to listen, God asked me, “Where is your joy?!”  The believers in this passage were persecuted, imprisoned and joyfully accepted their suffering, and here I am – discouraged and complaining about dirt, exhaust, and stares. How did they find joy in situations far more difficult than mine? How did they become people like that?! It’s because they knew that they had better and lasting possessions.

This summer has interrupted my comfort, security, and, unfortunately, my joy. So here’s what God has been teaching me: my arms-crossed, complaint filled attitude exists because I’ve been finding joy in the wrong things. Coming to Kenya stripped me of those things, and left me bare. If I had come to Kenya with confidence in my better and lasting possessions, I wouldn’t be left bare. I would be left joyful.

I have about a month left in Kenya. Instead of spending my 45 minute walk to work with arms-crossed and complaining, I’m going to spend it palms up and rejoicing over all that Christ has done and has yet to do in my life.

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About the Author: Julie is a World Next Door intern currently in Nairobi, Kenya. She will be a senior at Cedarville University pursuing a degree in Business Marketing. Julie will kick your butt in a game of Euchre, loves a good cup o’ joe, and has a ridiculously irrational fear of birds.

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Comments

  1. Brad said... 

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    July 10th, 2014 at 10:01 am  

    This is beautiful Julie, simply beautiful! I love the scripture and the ideas and having the chance to learn right along with you. “better and lasting possessions” indeed!

  2. Tom Flynn said... 

    Reply

    July 11th, 2014 at 12:09 pm  

    Julie,
    Thanks so much! As always, you are inspiring! I am not crossing my arms today……oh yeah, palms up! Thanks so much. In Him, Coach

  3. Jo said... 

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    July 11th, 2014 at 4:39 pm  

    I LOVE YOUR HONESTY!!! It’s in this honesty that God hears you best and you get to hear from Him maybe most “potently.” If you were trying to talk to God in some pretend way to impress him…all the while Him knowing what your heart really feels – then what in the “world” could He say to you that you would hear? But in your honesty, somehow this scripture made itself to your mind and eyes and ears and heart.

    Being honest with….US…your “viewing audience” of sorts…gives us all hope. I’m sure many people assume that with your palms up spirit you started with, you’d only get stronger and then closer to God …. and all would be right with the world of Julie. (so to speak). I’m so glad to meet you on the pages of WND since I could not be at your commissioning.

    Prayers for your palms to face heavenward – your ears bent toward God – your heart bent toward Kenyans – and your pockets bent to keep hands out. :-)

    As Brad said, thanks for asking us along for the ride and to participate in the learning.

    Jo

  4. Tatuu said... 

    Reply

    July 15th, 2014 at 7:52 am  

    Great working with you Saturday. We didn’t get to interact because we were all busy. When you guys were being introduced to us, I was seated next to a girl from one of the schools we were reaching out to. She pointed at you and said, “That girl is really happy.” When you were leaving the stage she again said, “Seems she is always happy.” You kept smiling, that’s why.

    Tatuu (Young Jewels Foundation)

  5. Jim M. said... 

    Reply

    July 17th, 2014 at 7:14 am  

    Julie, wow…nice work. God sometimes has us right where he can use us for his purposes, I suspect you are just about there. Furthermore I suspect that as you unfold your arms and hold them high to embrace the Creator of the universe He will take your hand and lead you to what He wants you to share with us. You are at that proverbial “thin space” where the Kingdom is breaking through here on earth. Its often a very difficult place to be…you are about to receive “better and lasting” possessions, and we are about to read amazing stories, your writing is compelling. Can’t wait to read more. Peace to you.

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