He Took Africa

There was once this red dirt. There were children with no possessions and every happiness imaginable frolicking barefoot in that dirt. Happy was like a ball striking straight through some busted up goal-post. Happy fizzed in glass bottles full of carbonated sugar-cane. Happy swept through a city on the dust of the Sahara, weaving in and out of tangled masses of traffic, dancing to the sounds of crackling loud speakers. They sold happy in the market, I would barter until it was affordable. They hung happy in the trees, I would reach right up and pick it. They hid happy in the crevices of cement blocks and carved it into elaborate boxes and squeezed it out of palm nuts into recycled plastic. You could roll your windows down to let the happy in or crank up your generator to power it or hear it in the silence of the dark African night. You could feel happy in the heavy blanket of heat the moon drew up over the sleeping stars each day at six. Happy had arguments right out in the open, happy danced hardest on the night of a funeral, happy paid the bride price, happy washed the laundry with foot-long bars of plain smelling soap.

I don’t talk about this so much. For one thing, no-one cares to listen. For another, there are things in this life you don’t get to keep that you’ve loved so long they could never leave you. Things that slip out of your hands but stay strong in your heart. There is a love that lingers over oceans, after storms.

The Lord who loves me, He took Africa from me.

I’ll visit, yes, but best I can tell I’m meant for somewhere else.

I know it now. I knew it then. I knew it even when I thought that I would die. I knew it when I couldn’t stand the thought. I knew it when it felt cruel, when it hurt, when I was sure that the ending would end me.

I’d never been that in love with anything, and He took it away.

There’s a lot of pavement here. They have hustle and bustle, traditions and rules. They wear shoes here, they like it when I do the same. (I don’t often do the same.) They like me anyway. You know what’s funny? My love for Africa? I can describe that for you. I have no words for this. Every day is different. Every turn unique. There is always something new, something better, something more around every corner. I like it better every day. I need it more every minute. And oh, my Lord, the way I love the people I’ve found in it…  It’s become a home. Better, He has become a home, the only one I need, and I’m willing like I wasn’t then to let Him take the lead. To follow Him wherever. This heart of mine is the house that trust has built.

I understand it better now. There will always be something to miss. But, when all I saw was Africa, He saw all of this.

He sees what I can’t.

He knows what I don’t.

I will give Him anything He wants.

There is nothing that I won’t.

“I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24