A Zimbabwe Covenant

This is not mine; it was given to me by an African pastor I heard once at a retreat. He passed it on in written form to me, credited only as, “A Zimbabwe Covenant”. I stumbled across it today in a stack of papers, and thought I’d just throw it up here. Enjoy.

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die is cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus. I will not look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

“My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I am finished and done with low-living, sight-walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

“I no longer need pre-eminence, propserity, position, promotion, or popularity. I don not have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on God’s presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor by power.

“My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way rough, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not give up, shut up or let up. I will go on until Christ comes, and work until Christ stops me. I am a disciple of Jesus.”

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Rambling

There is good inside of me.
I am not bad.
These things are forced out of me like the last efforts of the spent tube of toothpaste — it’s not pretty, but it’s there.
There is good inside of me.
I aspire to good things: friends healed, laughter echoing off the walls of a comfortable (and comfortING) sanctuary (so what if I have to mow the lawn?), creative mining and communicating, forming and shaping God’s people to find, display, and inhabit the Kingdom.
It’s all there, hand-in-hand with the broken tools of life, warped, rusted and a little misshapen from inheritance, neglect, and misuse, but at least it’s there.
I am cast in the image of
- carpenter
- father
- sovereign
- servant
- eternity
- Cross.
I am part of the “Adam Project”:  flawed, but restored (and restoring), hair messed up and eyes heavy with lack of sleep. All of these things are there. Sometimes they bubble up from deep wells of faith and joy, and other times they lay deep within the cold earth, dead and buried like coal in the mountain.
Sometimes it’s easy to find: “found art” and treasure that bursts into your lap with no effort; other times you have to dig, and even strip mine your life, destroying the landscape to find what will fuel and nourish you.
There is good inside of me; I am not all bad.
Not ALL good, of course, but better than this.
Even as I know that it’s not about me, that I am part of a collective country and kingdom, I also believe that my name is whispered in the pages of writings 2000 years old. I am hinted at in redemptive poetry, thought about in letters to churches, and anticipated in good news.  I have a place in this Good Country, in this Kingdom-Come-and-Coming, in this secret dominion that is visible to “Those who have ears and eyes to see.”
That’s me.
Put on my boots.

There is good inside of me.

Next…

So we finally reached Easter.

No, I mean… We finally reached Easter!!!!

So let me ask you: what’s gonna be different?

In my community, we walked through the 40 Days of Lent, carefully observing, contemplating, denying ourselves.

During Holy Week, we gathered each night to remember Jesus’ last days, and contemplated what it might mean for our lives, some 2,000 years later. Friday night we reflected through song, teaching, and then visually (through the Passion of the Christ) on his death. Friday night through Sunday we joined together in constant prayer, circling around the Stations of the Cross until, finally, we reached Sunday morning, with its empty tomb, the joyous release of energy from the community, and the celebration of the paradigm-shifting reality of the resurrection.

I think, now, we “get” (as much as possible) Lent a little better. We understand denial, understand a little of what it means to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus. This is a good thing.

But what happens next?

On the strength of some year-old conversations with some good friends, I’d like to suggest that in the same way that Lent helps us understand Jesus sacrifice on the cross, perhaps the Easter season could help us understand what it may mean to “live the resurrection,” and maybe the place to begin is through “engagement”.

If Lent is about denial, let’s let Easter be about engagement; where we ask ourself, “What do I need to deny myself?” Perhaps our question now becomes, “What resurrection activity do I need to engage in?”

To be brief, the resurrection has inaugurated, in some amazing, brilliant way, the reality of God’s kingdom now, on Earth. No need to wait on Revelation (oh but wait don’t get me started on that)! The empty tomb says that the best of what’s to come is possible now, and engagement says that we are (to borrow a phrase from NT Wright) “anticipating” this life-to-come now.

Examples? How about for these next 40 days, you…

  • Engage in service by finding a place to serve the “least of these”
  • Engage in slowing down by eliminating techno-clutter from your life at specific times
  • Engage in prayer by setting an alarm and praying a simple prayer (maybe the one Jesus taught us) four times a day
  • Engage in relational health by reaching out to a good friend for regular meals together

Don’t make it overwhelming; keep it simple. Just ask yourself, “What will life in the Kingdom look like?” and begin “practicing that life now.”

… Because, you know, the Resurrection isn’t only an event…

… It’s a lifestyle.