hen I meet a guy in the desert who tells me that he killed a lamb to puts it’s blood over his door four times a year, I stop dead in my tracks.
People — in 2019 — putting the blood of a lamb on their doorposts? Standing right here in front of me?
“It has to be a perfect lamb, without blemish.” Joshua holds onto the reins of this camel behind him that has a stack of boxes lashed to its back. Sometimes I can hardly breathe for my blemishes and bustedness.
“It has to be a lamb?” I step a bit closer, try to keep leaning toward the Truth. Go ahead and substitute different names and stories and cultures — but maybe deep down, we all know that we need a substitute for our brokenness? I hurt through to my bones.
“It has to be a lamb, slaughtered in front of each house. Four times a year. To cleanse you of your sin. And the blood is put on our camels.”
And over your door.
The guy gestures toward the Rendille village of stick huts, where every firstborn son rubs a “holy stick” on the back of a sacrificial lamb while saying Sorio, Sorio, Sorio, Sorio. Which means “Give us peace.”
God, peace — please.
When the guy’s fellow tribesmen tell me that for centuries these Rendille people have passed on to their children a story of coming to these desert lands by walking through a lake that spilt right into in two so they could walk through — I’m a gaping canyon carved wide open.
“We needed to get to the other side of an immense lake here in Kenya, but it was too large for us to walk around.” All around me, everywhere I look, all the Rendille women in this village, all ringed in beads stacking up necks, rattling with coils of color.
All I can think: When your people have walked through walls of water, do you become a rainbow of hope?
“The old men said it was too hard for us as a people to find a way around the lake in time — but if a boy would enter the waters…. He may drown in the waters — but His sacrifice would make the waters separate.”
My heart feels like it’s physically enlarging across the full span of me in slackjawed awe, and I’m enlarged heart pressing against lungs — I have to remember to breathe.
An African people — who have their own Passover ceremony, their own —— Red Sea Road story? A people group who doesn’t have the Old Testament, has never read the Old Testament — who tell their own Passover Exodus story?
“The old men said we need a Saviour — who can save the people.”
Need — a Saviour? Breathe.
All we ever need is the need of help, of a hand, of a Savior’s heart.
Haven’t the ancient ways always said:
Only being in need is the only thing you really need. When all I have is need — I have all I need.
The secular world not only seeks the sacred — the secular world never stops seeking a saviour — never stops looking for a saviour in status, in security, in self-sufficiency. I’m fighting raining grief in the desert:
Nothing saves at all
But the One who gave us all.
“To get through the waters, we needed a boy who will sacrifice himself to the water. And if the boy sacrifices himself? The water will separate.” I split. There are times you are so moved — you can’t move.
“And — this happened.”
I can hardly whisper: “The boy sacrificed himself?”
“Yes — the boy went into the waters — and the waters parted. And we, the Rendille people, walk through the waters on dry ground.”
I’m standing amidst a tribal people who tell a traditional story of a son who sacrificed himself to the waters to make a way through the waters.
I’m standing amidst an African people in the desert who for centuries of generations have been making a Passover-like sacrifice for their wrongs because they know in their souls a perfect lamb is what’s needed to make things right.
The Story is the Story is the Story.
It doesn’t matter what you know of the Story, the soul still knows:
Either live a life of perfection — or you need another’s life of perfection to be your substitution.
Either there’s no way through — or you need the Son to make a way through.
The guy holding the camel tells me he stopped sacrificing a lamb for his sins.
But his mother said she desperately needed him to do the Sorio passover for their family: It’s only the firstborn son who can take the blood of the lamb and mark it over the doors, on the camels, mark peace over their coming and going.
“I had to tell my mother, I can’t. I can’t keep doing Sorio.” Before I can ask him why, he’s there with words:
The desert man tells me he met Jesus around a campfire on the other side of those barren hills.
I feel marked, found.
You stop looking for your perfection in other things when Jesus becomes your everything.
The only perfect you actually need is the actual perfection of Jesus.
The only way through the impossible and imperfect is the Way Himself.
There is a Lamb who hangs on a Cross, who makes a way across anything.
“I had to tell my mother: I don’t want to be disobedient to you, but I now have a master I have to obey. And that is the Word of God and Jesus Christ. I had to tell her, I’m now a changed man: If anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new is here — and we now lived changed.”
My eyes don’t leave the desert man’s:
When you claim the Lamb of God as your complete sacrifice, He becomes the Lord of your life and you completely sacrifice everything for Him — because this is what it means to claim Him.
For over 20 years, he pours over the Story so that despair can Pass Over his people. And in those boxes strapped to the back of camel behind Joshua, lamb-sacrificer made into Word-of-The-Lamb-translator?
The Word of God is coming riding in on the back of a camel.
It’s like a kind of modern day Palm Sunday in Northern Kenya, the nomadic Rendille people waving hundreds of worn shepherding sticks instead of palm branches.
And I’m kinda wild to peel my boots off in the desert. Could anything be more holy than the heart of God coming for the first time to wash a people’s hearts and make them holy?
It’s like the shekinah glory of the Word of God itself coming for the first time in bound cardboard boxes, lashed to the hump of a swaying dromedary, and when God comes for us, how can we not come to Him?
Any direction I turn there’s the God-anticipating Rendille coming anxious to hold the Story, ready smiles and raised hands: They’ve relentlessly sought the relief of peace from centuries of slaying unblemished lambs under the scorching African sun, generation after generation — and this day is nothing short of a resurrection coming. I’m laid low in the dust.
Who wants a Lamb like this? And if we aren’t ravenously hungry for the Word of God, have we claimed the Lamb of God as ours?
If we only have a passing interest in the Word of God — how can expect to have a Passover Lamb?
Stirring the desert dust with the beat of rhythmic feet, thousands of beaded necklaces rattle like stirred bones rising.
More than 1000 Rendille — and hundreds of distant neighboring tribespeople — gathering in the stifling heat to witness the arrival of the completed New Testament in their own mother tongue and I am small and undone and I want this Story, need this Story, cling to this Story.
Wherever you are: The Story is the Story is the Story.
Whatever you are facing, whatever you are walking:
This is the Story we carry in our DNA and this is the Story that carries us.
The Story has a hero — and it’s not us — it’s Him.
A Hero who nailed it by letting Himself be nailed, a Hero who crushed it by letting Himself be crushed, a Hero who killed it by surrendering Himself to be killed by those who direly needed a revolution of their whole trajectory because the only Hero of any Story is the surrendered servant.
There is a Lamb who leaves the 99 to find the one in need to become all we need. Lay your head down on His soft side and rest in the rhythm of His heart.
There is a Lamb who lays with the wounded, who bleeds life into our wounds, and by His wounds we are healed. Lay your wounds on His open wounds and feel the healing.“There is a Lamb to make the broken-hearted into the lion-hearted, and in a devouring world we will roar with fearless hope.”
There is a Lamb who is stripped naked, disrespected, rejected, ridiculed, reviled, and slain with disdain — and He enters into your shame and He carries your blame and He gives you His name and by His death pangs, even us broken and busted are reclaimed.
The Lamb didn’t come to only make the lame walk. He came to make the dead rise, the broken heal, the hopeless trust, the self-loathing forgiveness-filled, and the overwhelmed overcomers.
There is a Lamb to make the broken-hearted into the lion-hearted and in a devouring world we will roar with fearless hope.
There is a Way through only because the Son let His heart be split in two.
The day after the camel strode in with the God’s New Testament Story strapped to it’s back?
A neighbouring Samburu woman, who had traveled more than 400 dangerous kilometers down bandit-lined roads to witness how God is now spoken by her Rendille neighbors, she walks to the front of the Rendille church to confess:
“God forgive me, I was jealous yesterday — I was jealous that you had God’s Story in your language — and I want God’s Story in my language.”
The secular world still seeks the sacred. Clutching their brand new red New Testaments, Rendille men, women and children, nod their deep understanding.
Just over 2,000 languages are still waiting to have God’s Word spoken in their mother tongue. It’s like a divine realization: Every people group on the planet could have God’s Story within our lifetime, this could happen and we could be part of parting their waters.
I keep turning to look at Judy, the radiant Rendille woman clutching the Story hands outstretched, welcoming God, welcoming the shekinah of the Story. And I am rain in the desert:
The veil is torn in two, the waves have been ripped into a Way, the Lamb has split His heart to heal ours, and the way to the Promised Land is a Story worth sharing.
And when I watch the Story-hungering Samburu woman walk out of the Rendille church — I can hear the seed-like beads of her necklace rattle like the hope of more resurrections coming.
More exodus deliverances following the Lamb into the Promised Land.
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