Simplicity. Not a hard concept to grasp but maybe a more challenging concept to walk in. How often do we walk out life in simplicity? For me, before my time in East Africa, the answer is not very often. My everyday life did not reflect the concept of simplicity. Many days, I would find myself over committed and busy. I would find myself caught up in a self-focused-mind walking in a way that focused on things that only hold an earthly value. I would walk in a way that bended to my many obligations, lunch dates, friends, hours of studying, family, Younglife, and FCA. The problem with this is not that these things are bad, they are good gifts from the Father, but if I am too caught up in the things of this world and not walking in simplicity, I miss out on simply dwelling with the Father.
During our time in Community 1 the Lord exposed this to the light. If you ask me about my time there, I could tell you many things, but all of these things can be summarized by two words: fully alive. While camping for 13 days with limited clothes, a very consistent and predictable diet, no showers, and dirty feet I became fully alive in a way I have never been before. Fully alive in the Father and in the abundant joy only He can bring. The people of Community 1 are radically dependent on the father and all of who they are is based in Christ. You can tell this by their hands that are marked with hard labor, their smiles of abundant joy, and their eyes that are fully alive and filled with a hope that only comes from the Lord. They walk with simplicity. They trust that the Father is a provider and a protector. They do not live a life of self promotion. They know that the Lord is good and faithful. It’s as simple as that.
The concept of being fully alive really took root several days into our time in Community 1 when my feet were covered in dirt, frustration took over, and I simply wanted more than anything for my feet to at least be clean, but the Father was faithful to take my frustration and create it into something beautiful so that he could teach me more about him. You see, the Father showed me that there is so much freedom in dirty feet. It is the denial of self, surrender of control. As much as I scrub and try to remove the dirt from my feet myself, I am simply unsuccessful, but the Father invites me to come to him each day, each hour, each minute as I am, dirty feet and all because He is the true cleanser and restorer. My red stained feet were a constant reminder that I am unclean, I am human, and as much I as try to do things on my own (even if intended well) I am not effective. It is only the Lord that can cleanse us. Everyday he takes my dirty feet and sets them off to walk in freedom. What a sweet reminder that was each morning in Community 1. And when I recognize my position before the throne that i am incapable but He is fully capable I can begin to run in that freedom. And with freedom comes not just life, but life to the fullest.
The rest of my time in Community 1 was spent walking in simplicity and soaking up every ounce of joy that comes from the Father. I was overwhelmed with the concept that the simple life is the fullest life. The simple life is not one of physical simplicity alone. Simplicity is a mental mindset, a posture of the heart, and the manner of your emotions. Simplicity is not being distracted by the things around you. Simplicity is recognizing that our sole purpose of existence is to dance with the Father, glorifying him and posturing all of who we are to this purpose. Simplicity is not overcrowding yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. I have learned that I must first dwell with Christ through the spirit each minute of everyday. I must surrender all emotions and thoughts so that I do not govern myself. For a life of self-control leads to unlife but life in the spirit leads to a full life. Simplicity is being a daughter of Christ first in all things before I am ever Anna Edwards.
The Lord reminded me that when I take the time to enjoy his hand crafted landscape, his hand crafted smiles that fill the faces of children, and appreciate the hand crafted community he has placed me in this summer, I cannot help but come alive. You simply cannot be alive in the Father and not notice the abundant life around you. When you dwell with the Father, love genuinely and deeply, and walk in a child like faith of radical dependence you cannot help but feel alive in the Father- this is the way he calls us to live each day- fully alive with dirty feet. How freeing it is to simply dance with dirty feet through the red dirt of East Africa with a Father whose love cleanses every last spec. For in Christ alone I am fully alive, forever I will walk with dirty feet into simplicity.
-Anna Edwards | Journey 2017 Intern