Sunday, July 25, 2021

You Is Not You Without Me



 "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:21

Sometimes pastors will say, "The "you" here is referring to the church, to all of us."  This has, at times, made me want to refrain from making it too personal because I don't want to apply something to myself, or claim a truth that wasn't meant for me in particular.  When I read this verse above, I thought, "He was chosen for me", then caught myself, "no, for all of us, let me not be too self-centered."  Then another thought pushed that one back.  The "You" here is not "You" without ME in it! So, if it doesn't apply to me personally, than it doesn't apply to the body of Christ either because I am part of the body.  You take me out, and the body is just not the same.  I don't think this is self-elevating.  I think it is self-penetrating and God-celebrating!  It touches me deeply to know that Christ was chosen for me before the creation of the world, and I believe in God because of HIM, and MY faith and MY hope are in GOD...along with all my brothers and sisters around the world!  

I listened to a song called "Pieces" by Bethel Music.  I don't agree with all the ideas in the song, but these words did impact me as I searched for God over the last few days: 

"Your love's not fractured
It's not a troubled mind
It isn't anxious
It's not the restless kind
Your love's not passive
It's never disengaged
It's always present"

Our world is broken, and the suffering that people around me are experiencing is reason enough to cry out to God for restoration and healing.  In praying I sometimes feel like God should reach out to the hungry child, the abused woman, the dying baby first before he comes to me, like a queue of need.  I keep moving to the end of the line as I see the needs of others.  I realized, in this time apart, that God doesn't need to choose!  He already chose me, and that means that his eyes are one me, weather my need seems as desperate as the next person or not.  His delight is to bring me to wholeness, and in reaching me, he's not ignoring the dying baby.  He's holding us both.  

To say that we are each included, individually, in the promises and hope of Christ, shows how our God is not only loving and powerful but personal and close. Jesus was chosen for you and me and us! 

Hallelujah! 


Friday, July 23, 2021

DEAD

 


 

I've walked many times through this cemetery with my husband and children.  I always go to the small twin grave, where Edith and Ethel, two baby girls died within 12 days of each other. This time, peering down at the names and dates of two souls, bound in the womb, then reuniting in heaven in the arms of Jesus, was especially moving.  Just walking into the mission cemetery this time brought the weighted reality of our frail humanness within focus, though blurred by my tears. 


The first time I visited the Miango cemetery, I was engaged to Zach.  He showed me the grave of his aunt and told me her story of serving the sick as a doctor, which lead to her catching a fatal disease.  As we left, Zach walked ahead of me, and I paused to turn around and look at the graves of those who had trodden this soil before me.  I told God, "If you can call these faithful ones to live and die here, loving you and loving Nigerians to you, I am willing to live and die here too for your sake and your glory.  In that moment, I felt not only called to Zach, but also to this Nigeria he had grown to love.

Today, 9 years later, I sit in the gazebo overlooking the cemetery, and feel God calling me  once again, to himself, to a victorious death. I sang, 

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he as given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you...In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:3-4, 6-9

That day, when my fiance introduced me to this place, was a kind of dying to other dreams, but in that sacrifice, I have found so much joy and life! I have been given all of these things highlighted above! Christ is my imperishable treasure, and because of him, death, even the daily dying, has no sting! 

 




Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Soul Memory

My signature article of clothing in this season is my apron!

I started really reading my Bible when I was 13.  That was when my mother went out and bought me a Bible, the Life Application Bible, and I loved it.  It was big and red, and soon it was read all over!  I had an insatiable hunger for the presence of God. 

Through high school and college, I had sweet, intimate times with Jesus.  He spoke through his Word, and I responded with song, poetry, eloquent entries in journals now stacked in a back corner in the US. 

 I moved to Africa and had adventures with God traveling as an MK teacher all over Cameroon and CAR. God was my travel partner, my friend, my ever present joy, the Creator of the green hills we climbed and rivers we crossed in canoes or helicopter.  The discipline of being with God, of hearing his voice felt less like a regiment and more like breathing.  Fluid, necessary, natural.    

Fast forward to 2021, a decade later, and at 9pm four of my five girls are in bed.  We have come to retreat together, leaving Daddy to work in the city and have some quiet time after a week of family holiday.  As the time came to retreat, I became anxious.  How do I start?  How do I sit still long enough to hear God speak, quieting my mind to be in his presence?  How ironic that what was once like breathing left me with a tightening in my chest restricting my airflow. 

Yankari...a warm natural spring flows clear from a huge rock! Truly miraculous!


Our family spent a couple of days resting here.

Then a sweet memory floated into my heart like the scent of fresh bread from my little kitchen oven. I had a sense that this was a moment where soul memory would gracefully usher me back to the place where my heart rejoices in the Lord.  Like when I execute a move I learned in soccer practice in middle school (Over 20 years ago) for a group of surprised soccer campers or show Daso how a hand-off (over 10 years ago) is supposed to work on the track with the baton held and extended in my right hand or salsa after two years  without missing a beat...if God made muscle memory so powerfully to flow from our past to impact our present, why wouldn't he now use soul memory, when I most long for a rest with Jesus, to sense his presence, and quiet my heart? 

I think he will, and I am looking forward to breathing deeply in his presence this week.  



Translating the Bible without writing anything

 "We are hoping to translate the Bible into 1000 languages worldwide."   We sat in a circle under the mango trees behind the SIL o...