Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Psalm 139

It’s not very often that you can pinpoint an exact time that you forever change someone’s life… and I don’t know if it will ever happen to me again.

Over the years we’ve come into contact with hundreds of teens. Some of them have come in and out of our life quickly, stayed for awhile to check out what’s going on, gone on trips with us, made major life decisions, and some haven’t. In 2002 I met a teen, she was a school friend of one of the other students we knew well and started frequenting the Kennel soon after we opened.

She was 16 years old at the time, a typical teenager mostly concerned with her grades and insecure about her looks. There was no father figure in her home, just grandma and a bio father (drunk most of the time). My heart just breaks for these precious teen girls who are ultimately looking for love and acceptance and all too often find it through cheap, superficial encounters with guys who have ulterior motives. I had lost contact with her for a few months.

One sunny day near lunchtime she pulled up to my house and asked me if she could use my phone. So I handed her my cell phone and she walked away for a bit. On this day, I was just on my way out the door, hustling to the next item on my agenda. About 10 minutes later she came back with my phone. As I looked at her, she was clearly very upset, just short of crying. As she walked away I battled in my mind…do I ask if she is ok or do I just let her be and go about my busy schedule? Just as she reached for her car door I had to ask. I asked her who she called and if everything was ok. That’s all it took to open the floodgate holding back her tears.

At first she said she didn’t want to talk about it. As I waited through long awkward silences filled with sobs, I asked again. And again, she’d say she didn’t want to talk about it. I think she already knew what I would say and she couldn’t handle the thought of the reality of my solution. Finally, she told me she had called a doctor in Phoenix to set-up an appointment. I had to probe a little further, “an appointment for what, why, what’s going on?” She mustered up the strength to confess that she was pregnant and that the federal hospital in Whiteriver was going to give her a ride to Phoenix to have her pregnancy terminated.

I just wanted to fast forward her life and show her the joy that her baby would bring her. Sure, kids are a big responsibility and they require self-sacrifice, but, if she only knew…if she only knew. After explaining to her the gravity of her decision and the value of the life inside of her, she promised me that she would come and talk with my wife, Darcy, later. I arranged with Darcy to have videotapes at the house that would educate her better on her decision. We reassured her that we would do anything for her to make the right choice. Abortion isn’t too different from another common tragedy on the reservation, suicide. Both contain a permanent solution to a temporary problem. A lot of times these kids aren’t strong enough, physically or spiritually, to see past the problems in their life and see the hope for tomorrow. Both end precious lives.

It’s in times like this that, if we set ourselves aside, I’m certain God speaks. Thankfully, He uses us, mere mortals, to express the grace and love…and make the plea for those He made with love, design, and purpose. It’s funny that as we move to and fro through life, God places us strategically to speak truth, love, and encouragement to others, but it doesn’t always happen without having built a platform. The relationships that we build through life can be so meaningful. If I hadn’t invested time, spending many hours talking with her, she may have never come over to use my phone that day.

Last month I was playing pool with some kids over at the Kennel. I hadn’t seen her in awhile again. Another friend of hers came over to me and handed me this:

And on back -

In the middle of that day, amongst constant thoughts of wondering how effective we are I realized…God used me. I’m thankful that He placed me in that moment, that day, to intervene. And there I stood, with a pool stick in one hand and this picture in the other. Those words hit me like a freight train. “Thank you…Jevon has been a blessing”, and I thought to myself: It’s not me who deserves any thanks…. How true it is that Jevon is a blessing from God. In the end, she decided to face the potential ridicule her grandmother, friends, and family may give her and keep her baby. She made the right choice. She chose life.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Sun Always Shines

There are a lot of things we deal with day to day that can seem overwhelming. In the midst of the storm we are constantly looking for God and waiting for the sun to come out. When the battle is fierce, things don’t go our way, we can’t seem to do anything right and the battle in our head is our worst enemy, we have to fight. We have to fight with passion, trusting that God will come through to save the day.

Luke recounts an amazing story of Jesus in chapter 8. Jesus directs the disciples to go to the other side of the lake and on the way across Jesus steps out for a little nap and wham, the storm hits. The boys freak out and wake up Jesus proclaiming the fact that they we’re going to drown (as if it were a forgone conclusion). So Jesus gets up. Probably with some serious bed-head and simply tells the wind to chill out. Of course they were amazed, and asked each other, “who is this dude?” What happens next is what is interesting to me.

As soon as they step off the boat on the other side a freaky, smelly, ugly, homeless, naked, demon-possessed dude is right there to greet them as Jesus was stepping off the boat. What a great welcome! He sees Jesus and Jesus finds out what is going on, the demons inside the man asked to be cast into some pigs and the man the demons possessed was set free. In the next scene we see a healed man, sitting quietly, clothed and sane at Jesus’ feet.

What an awesome picture of how life is. All around us there are people, wrapped-up in sin, distracted, spiritually empty, controlled by the enemy, wandering, looking, hoping, homeless and naked looking for Jesus. We usually take off, in ministry, with great intentions and sometimes with Jesus in our boat. When a soul hangs in the balance the storms come, meticulously planned by the enemy. Those storms come to detour our desire, but, if we turn to Jesus to do what only He can do, miracles happen and we follow Him to meet those who need His healing power. And we will see the beautiful picture of others sitting at His feet, following Him, worshipping Him…clothed in majesty only because of His redemptive power and grace.

We’ve fought through some storms, and no, the battles not over, there will be more. But we will continue to persevere through the storms, asking Jesus to lead us on, so that more may know the peace of sitting at His feet. Although night will fall, dark clouds will rise-up and settle again, storms will come…but with Jesus…the sun always shines.

Please rejoice with us because 2 souls have fought through a lot of storms and found Jesus. Stefan baptized Irvin Johnson and Dennis Paxson on Sunday Dec. 11th. Please pray for these boys as they deal with obstacles from morning ‘till night.