Monday, September 25, 2006
(From Michael Quoist’s book Prayers)
I have fallen Lord, once more, I can’t go on. I’ll never succeed. I am ashamed. I don’t dare look at You. And yet I struggled, Lord, for I knew you were right near me, bending over me, watching.
But temptation blew like a hurricane, and instead of looking at You, I turned my head away. I stepped aside while you stood, silent and sorrowful, like the spurned fiancée who sees his loved one carried away by the enemy.
When the wind died down as suddenly as it had arisen, when the lightening ceased after proudly streaking the darkness, all of a sudden I found myself alone, ashamed, disgusted, with my sin in my hands… this sin that I selected the way a customer makes his purchase, this sin that I have paid for and cannot return, for the storekeeper is no longer there. This tasteless sin, this odorless sin, this sin that sickens me, that I have wanted but want no more, that I have imagined, sought, played with, fondled for a long time; that I have finally embraced while turning coldly away from you, my arms outstretched, my eyes and heart irresistibly drown; this sin that I have grasped and consumed with gluttony.
It’s mine now, but it possesses me as the spider web holds captive the gnat. It is mine. It sticks to me, it flows in my veins, it fills my heart. It has slipped in everywhere, as darkness slips into the forest at dusk and fills all the patches of light. I can’t get rid of it. I run from it the way one tries to lose a stray dog, but it catches up with me and bounds joyfully against my legs.
Everyone must notice it. I’m so ashamed that I feel like crawling to avoid being seen. I’m ashamed of being seen by my friends. I’m ashamed of being seen by You, Lord, for You loved me, and I forgot You. I forgot You because I was thinking of myself and one can’t think of several persons at once. One must choose, and I chose…
… And Your voice and Your look, and Your love hurt me, they weigh me down more than my sin.
Lord, don’t look at me like that. I am naked. I am dirty. I am down, shattered, with no strength left. I dare make no more promises. I can only lie bowed before You…
And the Father's Response...
Come, child, look up. Isn’t it mainly your vanity that is wounded? Do you think there is a limit to My love? Do you think that for a moment I stopped loving You? But you still rely on yourself. You must rely only on Me. Ask my pardon and get up quickly. It isn’t falling in the mud that is the worst…
… but staying there.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Well, actually, everything I did was fun... BUT! I want to share with you something so simple- yet it felt profound to me in the moment of realization.
Two things actually: First- the world is a lot smaller than I originally thought. Distance is made relative with today's technology, and it's just not that intimidating to me anymore. And also, God really is everywhere! Guess what- The One True God can be found in the secluded bush, with no roads to get there, just an airstrip (and before that just a river). There are Believers in places you and I can't even imagine! I saw Jesus on the Far Side of the World. Why did I have to go to get this? Who knows... But I'm glad these simple truths made it into my heart and mind...
This was a sign I saw every day in the classroom. The desire of our hearts.
And I did...
In the ones who taught me...
ITF staff and the Bena team.
In the family I stayed with...
This is a believing family in Haia. 8 kids! (One not pictured) I spent time with them, learning the language, reading our Bibles together (theirs in Pawaian, mine in Pidgin), and of course, working on my bilum (string bag). I stayed one night in their home, and it was a very humbling experience. The Dad is one of the church leaders in Haia- very soft spoken, yet very well spoken. I was told that he and his wife were wonderful examples of a Christ-centered marriage and household.
In old friends...
Karen Bowen- she and her husband Tom came with us in 2004 to Madang. They are now serving as Associates at Lapilo, along with their youngest son, running the Guest House. I got to see them a few times, and it was so nice! They came to ITF for lunch one day, and I spent some time with them at Lapilo another day.
A believing woman who I liked hanging out with in Haia. She (like most of the women I met) saw me working on my bilum, and came over and started to help me. She had the "Wordless Book" pinned onto her shirt, and she'd share the message of salvation thru Christ with anyone who crossed her path.
And someone who felt like family...
Sally Crosse- Guyanese, just like me! (well, half of me...) She is such an amazing woman!
Jesus was seen in the ones who gave their lives to His service...
Jack and Isa Douglas- they've spent 33 years in the village of Haia with the Pawaia people. God used them to establish His Church in the middle of the jungle. Jack told us many stories about bush life, translation, and the day the Gospel was presented for the first time.
And those serving now...
The current Bena tribe team: Rich and Dawn Foster, Dave and Wendi Lee, and Van and Alexa Averhart.
In the ones who motivated me...
This is part of the team from 2004. This night pictured, we were meeting at Don and Lynda Pederson's home to bid farewell to Tom and Karen, as they were leaving for PNG soon after. It was this night that I decided to just forget about whatever concerns I had, "let go of the rope", and just go.
And the people who sent me...
"I can't believe this!!"
My friends Jess and Janice had arranged for a surprise "going away" party for me, 2 weeks before I left. About 30 people came to show their support. On top of that, they raised an additional $300+ for me, and Revolution more than matched that. I had been over $1000 from my goal 2 WEEKS before I was scheduled to leave... But God totally provided for His Girl. Read more about this here.
My Revolution Family. My dearest friends. My strongest support.
(taken from a journal entry- Saturday, March 27, 2004)
"Praise Father God- Giver of life,
Power and might, goodness and light-
Ruler of all.
Praise to the Son- The Living Christ.
Body and Blood, Mercy and Love- sweet Sacrifice.
You are HOLY- HOLY.
Praise Holy Ghost- Voice in the dark,
Healer and Friend, Fire and Wind,
Lord of our hearts.
Praise Father God.
Praise to the Son.
Praise Holy Ghost-
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
You are HOLY- HOLY."
These are the words to my favorite praise song. I have decided that my favorite attribue of God is His Holiness. "Holy"... So much comes to mind in that simple word. In the phrase "You are Holy", I hear...
- You are Pure- free from sin.
- You are Truth- all Your words are true.
- You are sincere.
- You are sovereign.
- You are Ruler over everything and everyone, and every situation!
- You are powerful- You can do all things.
- You know all things.
- You are in control of all things.
- You hear all prayers.
- You direct all lives.
- You know all fears.
- You heal all hurts.
- You forgive all wrongs.
- You judge.
- You are JUST.
- You are mighty.
- You are reliant.
- You are Almighty!
- You can overcome anything!
And this is just the beginning!!
In "You are Holy", I see so much. I see me wanting things not in Your plan for me. I see You withholding my wants and desires from me because YOU know that there is something better for me. I see you saying "NO" to my requests. I see me crying and mourning for things I hold/held dear because they're being taken away. I see me begging for mudpies, when all You want to give me is a holiday on the shore...
I see me on my knees, saying and pleading, that God- Your will be done in my life, knowing that Yours and mine differ. I see me finally submitting to You, and feeling that unbelievable peace that You so often bless me with.
I love this song- and the phrase "You are Holy". Why is it that in spite of the fighting, begging and pleading, do I end up in the same place? It's a good place to end. My conclusion is always "You are Holy". You are in control of my life. You are in control of the difficult stuff, even if I can't make any sense of it. You know exactly why I'm going thru this. You know what the outcome will be- and why is that? Because You are Holy!
God, In "You are Holy", I see submission of myself to You, and of all humanity to You in the end! I love you Lord- because you are HOLY! Take control of my life, my thoughts, my actions, my heart...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It is to be reclaimed. Rescued. Made whole again. To be called "Beloved" instead of "traitor".
The human words "You're mine"- so priceless, beyond imagination- in a moment when I never thought I'd hear such things again! Yet Human they remained, and thus fallible... retractable...
After all of the back-sliding, abandonment, grief, anxiety, anger, resentment- to hear the whispered words "You're Mine" is just more than I can comprehend.
"Comfort, Comfort! Speak softly and tenderly to her... Make it very clear that she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!She's been punished enough and more than enough, and now it's over and done with." -Isaiah 40:1-2 (The Message)
And just like that- it's gone! There is nothing more I could possibly do to earn forgiveness, or to somehow pay my debts. I can't take myself back. Nor can I look to another human to rescue me- make me whole. Only One can reclaim me. And it was done before the beginning of time. Amazing!
With Your hands You fashioned mine.
Let me be used by you to carry out truth...
To the ends of the earth,
'Til everyone's heard-
My mended heart will share Your words.
I will tell the world that You are God!
Should all life cease to grow,
Should chaos take control...
The only hope we know is You will save us.
It's worth the cost to take up my cross
As You take back what's been lost.
Until all who doubt know You are God.
I'm not captive anymore-
I'm gonna soar to a new place,
Take on a new pace-
I know what my life is for.
Me and Sally- such a sweet lady! A very true example of selflessness, and a real servant's heart.
Looking out into the "Great Wide World"...
Relaxing with the ladies, watching a volleyball game...
My first peek at the village of Haia, in the Gulf Province- from the window of the tiny Cesna we had to fly in to get there...
Me with "Little Joyce"- my favorite little girl in Haia...
Yes- I even got to bathe in a river a few times! It was really very refreshing! The water was crystal clear and cool.
Walking back to the village from the river. The boy in the green shirt was my "boyfriend"- he just came up, grabbed my hand, and was my personal guide for the week!
Waving goodbye to the Cesna, leaving the Pawaia tribe...