Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
It was both my first Thanksgiving in Africa and my first Thanksgiving as a married woman. I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. Our mission director and his wife were coming for lunch, and I was determined to replicate the American Thanksgiving meal as closely as possible. However, it was hot and dusty and didn’t seem like Thanksgiving. There were no fall leaves, pilgrim hats, colorful decorations, or even frozen turkeys. Yet I was determined to find substitutes for everything.
While shopping in the market I had found a pumpkin-like gourd that I was sure would do for pumpkin pie. Our house help kept insisting that it was a fruit and couldn’t be made into pie, but I would not be deterred. It was orange, shaped like a long, thin pumpkin, and smelled somewhat like a pumpkin, so I was sure it would work. Later I saw a lady going down the road carrying a basin full of field corn on her head. It had not been dried yet, so I knew I could convert it into creamed corn. The pièce de résistance was two fat roosters purchased from the widows who lived on our premises. I asked our helper, Cockoo, to kill and clean the roosters while I worked on the rest of the meal. He set to work and in a short period of time brought me two plucked and lovely roosters. He assured me they were completely clean and ready to roast. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by inspecting his work too closely, so I sprinkled some herbs on the birds and popped them into the oven.
Our director and his wife had never celebrated Thanksgiving in Togo since they didn’t think it was worth the fuss. Yet they were delighted with our invitation and came to share this special occasion with us. The table setting was beautiful with sparkling china and a lacy tablecloth. The food looked delicious: creamed corn, crisp green beans, savory dressing, pumpkin pie, and two lovely, lightly browned roosters. We thanked the Lord for our blessings and asked our director to carve the rooster. As he cut into the first bird his facial expression turned into one of puzzlement and then disgust. Our lovely birds still had all their intestines and “stuff” inside and were only partially cooked.
We had a delightful vegetarian Thanksgiving that year.
What about you? How many of us are like those roosters—lovely on the outside but filled with bad stuff on the inside? Ask God to transform your heart and cleanse you of any internal sins such as pride, mean-spiritedness, callousness toward others, and so forth.
Missionary Prayer Point: Pray that missionaries would truly seek after God and let him clean up their hearts. Pray that they would be aware of any internal sins and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as he cleans them from the inside out.