I was there

Closing the gate on her weeping face, I had to run inside, weep and take a shower – wash away the guilt. There’s a woman at the gate, begging for help. But I can’t help her. Won’t help her. It’s not altogether clear.

We are on the porch singing hymns, preparing for Good Friday. Meanwhile, they are crucifying Jesus while we ignore it.

Can’t stop thinking. What if it was me? If that was Fred on her back? Begging the one person she knows can help – a Christian woman sitting in her big house shopping online while her baby gets sicker and starves. But I can’t help. She’s a liar, they say. I know who’s the liar here.

Try and forget her face. There are millions more like her. You can’t help them all. But only one at the gate. I can’t understand her language, but I know what she’s asking.

Let’s get back to church, hymns, spiritual books, talking about Jesus. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees.

I’m a fraud and a liar, professing love of Jesus while ignoring his banging on the gate. It has to be grace. Radical, undeserved grace by which we are saved. I will cling to that grace with all that’s in me.

 

In His Presence

I’ve been thinking a lot about the presence of God and what that looks like in my life. In my Bible study, we have been studying Exodus 33, where God tells Moses that he will lead them into the promised land and given them milk and honey, but that his presence won’t go with them. Moses says no deal.

Essentially God says that he will give him everything he’s ever wanted except God’s own presence. Of course, knowing myself, I probably would have taken the deal. I really love God’s blessings. But Moses says no because he’s experienced the presence of God and knows that nothing else compares – the temporal joys of the flesh waste away and don’t fulfill.

I have had a few moments of sensing that presence – the calming, peaceful, joyful presence of God. I’ve known that I was held by him and loved by him and that everything else was dust.

Sitting in a hotel room after meeting the birthfamily of the children we were supposed to adopt, we knew it was over. While our hearts were breaking in a million pieces, I still felt joy. I felt joy knowing that my God would supply all my needs and that I had followed him to exactly the place he wanted me – broken, weeping, singing his praises.

When I heard my sweet baby cry for the first time, I finally believed that I was actually having a baby. I didn’t want to let myself believe it was true even as they were wheeling me into the operating room. I was terrified to hope. We were reciting Psalm 27, and then we heard him.

When I was recently at an orphanage in DRC, I was struck by the utter desperation – children left behind, evil men controlling the gate, poor women held captive – it was the closest I’ve ever been to what I imagine hell to be like. Except. There was the presence of God.

Even sitting there being lied to and video recorded by men who are profiting off of the destruction of lives, I could feel God’s calming hand upon me. I had an acute sense that God was watching and taking note of this hell on earth and that his justice would be meted out eventually. In the presence of terrifying circumstances, I felt no fear. I felt that I was exactly where God wanted me to be and therefore was utterly and completely safe.

It’s what spurs me on to keep fighting against this desire for fleshly satisfaction. While my flesh cries for approval, success, comfort, security, my soul cries for more of him. Some days my flesh wins, but sometimes it doesn’t, and on those days, I agree with Moses.

If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up                from here. (Ex. 33:15)

 

Creeping Power

By now you’ve probably realized that I’m a bit fired up. BB says that it’s not my emotions that are the problem, it’s my behavior in reaction to my emotions. Whatever. I blame my parents.

Thinking a lot about the creeping power of sin. I’m really, really mad at someone (no, not BB). I’m fly off the handle enraged. I’m praying for justice (and maybe a little vengeance) angry. I’m mad for myself. I’m mad for the other people hurt by this person. I’m mad that this person is (seemingly) getting away with it.

But then my God reminds me that I too have the capacity for great evil. He reminds me that if it wasn’t for his death on the cross, and only for that, than I would deserve the full brunt of his wrath.

Dang. Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly good rage?

Most people don’t set out to ruin the lives of others, and yet many people have their lives ruined by others. Most men believe their wedding vows, and yet a large number cheat (women too, of course). Most parents smile at their babies when they are born, and many of them raise their hand to that same child just a few years later. Most business people just want to work an honest job, and then some of them find themselves stealing before they realize that they’ve lost their way.

What happened? How does a person change?

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

The Enemy picks at our weaknesses. It starts with a small lie, a smile at the woman behind the counter, a little fudge of the books.

Then the Enemy begins the deception. You deserve it. No one will ever know. It’s not hurting anyone.

Before you know it, the Enemy doesn’t even have to work anymore. You’ve gone so far down the path that you believe there’s no turning back.

Ah, but there’s the grace. There’s time to turn back up until the moment we take our last breath. There’s always time to make things right. Yes, it can be hard, embarrassing, humiliating, painful. But the truth will come to light either way.

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:26)

I believe in a God of justice, one will right all wrongs. I thank God that the justice for me was meted out on the cross. I thank God that he shows me the reality of this Enemy, who’s couching, creeping, waiting to pounce. I am not far from falling. I am a weak vessel, easily deceived.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

 

FWP

The title of this blog should really be “First World Problems while living in the Developing World.”  For today’s installment, let’s talk about how bad my hair looks here.  I have nice hair, but the only way it looks good is if the conditions are right.  I have zero patience or skills to actually style my hair so natural has to be the way it works.  In this dry Rwandan climate combined with my shower’s low water pressure, my hair looks terrible all the time.  Also, I’m not a fan of the current length.  You feel so sorry for me, don’t you?

Also, I packed wrong.  (Alternatively, it could be that I’m just terrible at anything fashion-related.  I never seem to look as put together as the rest of the world.)  Is there anything more depressing than spending 3 months thinking about what to pack only to come and determine that you should have packed differently?  I never want to know how much of my life has been a complete waste of time.  It has to be over 80%.

The best news of the week is that we have hot water!!  It’s quite amazing what a hot shower does to my outlook on life.  I went from the pit of despair on Sunday to being a completely new woman after my shower on Monday.  (Yes, BB loves my mood swings!)

Seriously though, there’s no doubt that comfort is an idol of mine.  I don’t really need approval or success (obviously), but I really need my comforts.  I need hot water, no bugs, a soft bed, delicious meals, chocolate, coffee.  Take these away, and you will get an eye twitch from having to deal with me (sorry honey!).

I’m not proud of this part of my sin nature.  I truly have some desires to be that totally earthy chick who eats beets for a meal, loves a cold shower and thinks nothing of using an outhouse.  She sounds amazing!  I would like to be her friend.   I bet she runs seven minute miles without sweating and doesn’t even eat chocolate!  She’s probably a size 0 too.

Thank the Lord that he loves me anyway.   And I’m thankful that he keeps bringing these challenges to my life.  He has bestowed grace sufficient for my weakness and even a hot shower as well.

 

The Mundane and the Amazing

First things first, I need a new name for the blog.  Something catchy that conveys the topic (which is really broad – my spiritual journey, motherhood, social justice, adoption, orphan care, chocolate eating…).  But I have no creative bones in my body.  Please help me by commenting with your suggestions.

 I had such a rejuvenating day today.  BB got up early with Freddy, which allowed me an extra hour of sleep, followed by a cold, rainy run and finished off with a cup of coffee and a Bible study.  I need to figure out how to start every day that way.

Freddy and I had fun visiting my sweet sister at her nanny job.  The little girl (1.5 years old) enjoyed throwing her ball at him and at one point sat on his head.  Freddy, of course, remained smiling and unaware.

Image

You can see that Freddy still has quite the affinity for hand-towels and washcloths.  Perhaps a job as a bathroom attendant in his future?  Or maybe Bed Bath and Beyond? 

I had a fabulous lunch with a great friend, also a new mom.  A visit from another friend and her sweet girls who entertained the boy and brought peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  Finally, a visit from a friend who cut BB’s and my hair.  Her passion for helping victims of sex trafficking spurred on great conversation, and I think I may now know where all my stuff needs to go when we move [in 7 weeks!!!!].  🙂

All this grace.  Undeserved.  Who am I to merit such rich relationships with people?  Such love poured out on me and my family.  If not for the Holy Spirit, I would have never met these friends.  These precious people who pray for me, chat with me, bring me cookies, and cut my hair.

My cup overflows tonight.  May I never forget such grace bestowed on me.

 

Explanations

I’m struggling with suffering these days.  Not my own, but others.  I have family members who are suffering, and I don’t like it.

I am a seriously left-brained person.  There’s not an ounce of creativity in me.  I am all logic, all the time.  I don’t feel things.  I think them.  And then I overthink them some more.  I want to know why.  Why does this loving God who I place my trust in allow such suffering to go on?  Suffering that seems so arbitrary, so unrelated to anything and clearly not the result of anyone’s bad choices.

I know all the theological answers, but they don’t really answer the question.  Most of the time, I am ok with that.  I know my place in relation to a holy God.  I’m not meant to understand everything.  I can only see one small piece of the puzzle.  It’s like my dog wanting to understand why she can’t eat at the dining room table with us.  I just can’t explain it to her, and if I tried, she wouldn’t get it.  She’s a dog.  [I’m not saying humans are dogs, just trying to draw some sort of analogy to wrap my brain around the issue.]

But it’s frustrating!  I want it to end.  I don’t want the people I love to hurt.  I don’t want them to doubt that God loves them in the midst of their trials.  And I know that my God can stop it.

That is faith.  Trusting in something you can’t explain.  Going back to the Word, to what I know is true.  God loves us.  Jesus wept for his people.  We are in the midst of a redemption story, but all has not yet been restored and redeemed.