Lights on in Ethiopia

Ethiopia was easily the wildest trip I’ve ever been on. Wild and wonderful. I landed in Addis Ababa and actually had no idea where I was going to sleep, vague plans for the next few days, and the simple goal to have a time of rest and retreat.

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My first Ethiopian meal in Addis Ababa.

A friend of a friend picked me up at the airport, and unknown to both of us, we started on an adventure together! We wound up in Debre Libbanos camping on the edge of a canyon. In this small town, there is an ancient Orthodox Christian monastery where there are still regular services that you can hear echoing beautifully throughout the canyon.  People travel to this monastery for healing, to pray and confess, and also to tour. I was there to be still and listen.

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Outside the gates of the Debre Libbanos Monastery.

I spent time watching the sun rise and set. I sat, drinking the most amazing coffee, and saw light inch over and into the vast canyon.

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Sandstone canyon at sunset from the Ethic-German Lodge.

It got me thinking about a prayer that I often said while I was at Smith College. I’d always ask the Lord to make me into a light, so that I could shine on the Smith campus and tell people about Jesus. And the Lord really blessed my time at Smith with heartfelt bible studies in my room over tea, great conversations with friends, apologetic events, bold sermons, sweet discipleship and much more. I had the wrong understanding of light at the time though. I wanted to project light out of myself. To work hard, create some kinetic electricity, and then turn on a flashlight. But the light can’t come from me. It can shine through my brokenness for the glory of God, sure, but it’s always Christ that lights the flame in us. Indeed, Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Walking with God involves accepting that Jesus is your Lord and savior and inviting the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. And I believe it is Christ in us that shines out into the world. Just as the sun peers over the Debre Libbanos canyon, “it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).”

At the monastery I prayed that His will would be on my heart and guide my feet to walk in His ways. Indeed, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” Please pray with me that the Lords light would shine brightly in Mamelodi. There are so many nations represented in this township. So many hearts that need to be transformed by the gospel. I have faith that “the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations (Isaiah 61:11).”

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2 thoughts on “Lights on in Ethiopia”

  1. Tonight at Catechism at Wellspring, we talked about what it means to glorify God and we delved into the meaning of words like glorify, work, enjoy, cosmos, and chaos. Eugene spoke about his time in the Presbyterian Church and the Westminster Catechism which asks,”What is the chief end of Man?” The answer that is provided was, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” When we glorify God, we reflect Him to the world, reflecting His Light to a world in chaos (credit to Madeleine L’Engle); not us, but Him. It is our “work” (which in the Hebrew is the same word as worship- think about THAT one!) to glorify Him, and to find joy in it; to enjoy it, let it fill us, rejuvenate us, replenish us. In those moments that I have discovered that gift of being involved in His work, of looking down and seeing His hands attached to my wrists, it has always been so invigorating. Lizzie, as the dawn breaks and the sun washes over the land for the first time that day, may He rejuvenate you to be a blessing to others in the work that you are doing.
    Dad

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