|New kind of plenty, one of my students, Lydia. '21|
This is part three of a blog series on building hope through remembering faith. See previous posts for background.
I knelt at the altar of a camp where my youth group was retreating after an invitation to break open our alabaster jar before Jesus. At 13, I was good at soccer. I had been asked to be on the varsity team at the local public school (though I attended a private school). I lived next door to my loving grandparents on our family farm and had deepening childhood friendships. I felt I had to give God my family, friends, and soccer as my alabaster jar. Not long after that, my parents told me we were moving to Alabama from Upstate New York. Our church family, New Life, was where I first asked Jesus to “drive my tractor.” The analogy was given by Pastor Jerry. He was close to our family, our farm being a place where a number of people had come to straighten themselves and their relationship with God out. We were sent by our church, a true family, to Alabama, a place of American football (they hadn’t yet discovered my international sport) and a whole new culture to adapt to. We lived in a mission center called SIFAT…my jar had been broken. I remember how the decisions God gave me to make, as stepping stones on a journey, bolstered my faith and carried me closer to God’s heart. I remember how release became rejoicing, pouring out, a redefined plenty, season after season in my walk with God.
|New kind of plenty, one of my students, Lydia. '21|
I was 10, seated at a lunch table with my classmates. Mrs. McCaslin was my first teacher apart from my mother. I don’t know why she chose me that day. She leaned over from the far end of the table, with all my classmates and their half-eaten lunches in between to ask me a question I have never forgotten: “Christy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I had recently asked my mother what kind of people they needed in missions. Putting it simply my mom said, "They always need nurses and teachers." I heard myself responding to Mrs. McCaslin, “I want to be a nurse, teacher missionary.” It was the first time I remember saying what I wanted to be. When I said it, I knew it was true. I never really got the nurse part, but a teacher I am! I remember the teachers God used in my life, the moments they seized to ask me questions and teach me faithfully. I remember how firmly that calling settled in my heart.
|Loving Mommy before I became a mommy in Nigeria '15|
I have been challenged to remember. The kind of challenge that confronts a hopelessness that makes shadows stubbornly darken present joys. Despite the beauty of my world, my children, my marriage, there is a cold settling, making me brittle to gracefully combat difficult situations.
During our prayer meeting on Friday, I felt God was challenging me to confront my struggling hope with remembering faith.
My Cameroonian Father, who knew me during a very rich time when God was speaking, moving, transforming me in drastic ways, was present during the prayer meeting. His prayer was for his “little Christy” and it drew me back to that season, where I lingered with God in the quiet place.
The wife of the chaplain during my college years asked us to pray for college students during the prayer meeting, remembering my generation and how God called so many from Hope College at that time. She then read from Psalm 77:
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago
I will meditate on all your works
And consider all your mighty deeds.”
Another sister, Rudy, we met when we were newly weds in Dallas, spoke the worlds, “Neither the present, nor the future,” coming from Romans 8, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
No one in attendance knew the heart struggle I’ve been having, and the way God ministered to me through them was so tender and gracious of him. I am going to write a blog series of remembrances. I will go through my story, and remember with you what God has done.
We have developed a meaningful yet somehow distanced relationship with a woman we call Kaka Asabe (The grandmother of Asabe). It's been nine years that we have received the occasional visit from this petite, solemn woman, years of hard living woven into her eyes, ground into her rough, thick hands. She lives in what used to be a village, enveloped by Jos city, across from our church in our former neighborhood. I have great respect for her determined, continuous efforts to raise and provide for her five grandchildren who are at our house daily for after school tutoring.
During this holiday, we had a great delight, truly one of the greatest joys I have living in Nigeria. Kaka came to the house to bring us Christmas greetings. Kaka speaks Berom, a language with over 100,000 speakers. The Berom audio Scriptures just became available, and Zach played the Christmas story from the Berom audio Bible. He asked, "Did you understand it?" "Very well! I understood everything!" I asked her if she wanted the Bible, and she said, "I can't read!" I told her this was one she could listen to. Her hand, leathery from hard labor her whole life, slowly learned to press the small buttons after lots of repetition. She returned the next day to practice again, bringing a younger girl with her so she could help her work the small radio in case she forgot how to use it.
We are praying that no one will take the Word from Kaka by removing the memory card with her language Scripture on it, and that the Word speaks into that darkness and draws everyone who hears it into his glorious light!
If this wasn't part of a blog series, I'd have named it, "Leave me alone!" Ed, Linda, little Mariama, and me 15 years af...