Thursday, May 8, 2008

and they do crash...

There is no greater impotence in all the world like knowing your are right and the the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashed upon you.

-Norman Mailer

I was born and grown in Indiana. Darcy and I met in a field, near a pig barn, north of US 33 in the mid-80's. We never dated until after we both were out of high school. Our life together was jump-started with the birth of our boys...just 13 months apart. It wasn't long after our boys were born and we were "doing" life that we began to stumble on questions of how to raise our them. Because of an invitation, we began getting involved with a community of believer's in an growing church. Our life would never be the same. I guess you could say that our hearts were as fertile and the black fields of Northern Indiana. Seed fell, it was nurtured, and our Spirits grew.

One of the families that we spent many years serving alongside ended up leaving the church the same year as us...and for the same reason: to go and serve a people group. They too have an amazing God story. As we left for the mountains of Arizona, they left for Zimbabwe. In just 10 years time, I am in awe of what God has done through them. They have established a self-sufficient AIDS orphanage, and all from nothing. This is a farm that feeds the community and is a home for precious children that need care...Eden's Children Village has become an amazing work of God, and all through simple servants...

I'd say it's true that what may be a dangerous idea to some almost makes sense to others of us. And as witnesses and servants to the Almighty, the messengers of His good news...I hope that we are all intently working on the destruction left by the storms of this life. As our battle here against the effects of alcohol, drugs, and physical and mental abuse rages on, our friends in Zimbabwe face the tyranny of a corrupt government and a ruthless leader that threatens to burn down the farm and kill. Both atrocities cry out for Divine interruption. Let's be honest...we are fools if we don't recognize that we have an enemy that seeks to fight until we lose hope and stop believing that He can make all things right. I know that I've been slapped around more than once and I have to admit that my faith is sometimes weak as doubt and frustration creep in. But lest I get too comfortable in my pity and entertain thoughts of apathy (to come and take the pain of being so close to suffering away), I must find the strength to pray and claw my way back to understanding that my Hope is in the Lord...the battle isn't mine.

Late last summer I gave a message at the funeral of a 16-year old Apache girl. It was a heart-breaking ordeal but I had the chance to spend time with some of her friends that really needed hope. One of the girls, that I tried to reach out to during that time, still comes around our youth center. I always go out of my way to try to talk to her. I'm usually the last person that she wants to see...and she usually makes sure that I know that. I've gathered that she's been mis-handled her whole life and her scars show it. It saddens and disturbs me that such a precious child has had to take such abuse. And even though she was always sure to reject and curse me, I tried to show Jesus's love and model of His grace. That pattern didn't stop until yesterday. As I was working behind the counter at our youth center she came up to me and asked me if I had time to talk...

I love the word empathy (the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another). And I think that Jesus had a lot of it. This is the word that best describes my feelings as I'm listening to broken and confused souls. Empathizing with someone helps me to understand where they've been. And with that understanding comes a realization that answers aren't simple, and solutions will take resources, sacrifice, and discipline. As she cried she shared what I had suspected all along and what the cuts on her arms testified to...I was talking to a lovely girl who had been broken by her environment over and over again. And each time she healed her scars got a little thicker. So there I was looking at a very scarred little 16-year old...afraid to let anyone close to her again for fear of the hidden weapon. This hurdle between us was only knocked over by showing continued love and grace amidst relentless rejection. Which is exactly the kind of patience God shows towards us (thankfully). So she shares that she's been neglected, used, and abused everything from alcohol to cocaine to meth. She sobbing that she doesn't have any hope and doesn't know where to turn. She thinks her alcoholic mother and non-existent dad both hate her. She considers suicide but stops short when she thinks of her little sister...who would take care of her? She shared, I listened, we prayed and as I headed to my car (asking God why it has to be)...I see her and her sister walking down the sidewalk towards home...alone.

I wish it weren't true. I wish it didn't have to be like this. I wish I had a solution for her, to pluck her from her sin infested environment. But I don't. And although I could list many, many wishes I'll always come back to the Gift. The Gift given to me (and her) that if I would only trust...and wait...and pray...and perservere....He is faithful to give us more than we could ever ask for or imagine. And oh, how I wish we could all pray that prayer on behalf of others hurt instead of our pocketbooks, or church buildings, or vehicles...or comfort.

So...Sarah....Kevin....Susan....the families of "Eden"....and those of you who may be hurting too....this song's for you.....May the Lord empower us to fight through these storms together and I pray that we will not be made impotent by the waves of wrongs in this world.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hearing Voices

I've been thinking over the past few weeks about voices. There are so many "voices" all around us. I watched an incredible teaching by John Elderidge on quieting ourselves to hear the voice of God. Heck, I'll admit, I can barely quiet myself long enough to listen to God among my long list of requests and inquiries. I had a student come into my office and confide in me that the reason he doesn't want to go home at night is because he hears voices whispering bad things to him. And no, I don't think he's crazy. Our enemy wants to torment us...make us miserable. And these things freak me out. It's during these times that we pray for miracles and hope that the words that trickle out of our mouths are planted into hearts of fertile soil and take hold. These things take incredible faith and trust in our Lord. This student told me his faith is weak and he doubts...and so mine can be, brother. I don't deal with these demonic voices. Sometimes I deal with worse. Apathy, sarcasm, fear, doubt, judgment, discouragement...and I could go on. But, this is what I expect. If we are going to press on and believe that our God wants us to serve Him and others and make gains for Him...shouldn't we expect some opposition? Is my "martyrdom" somehow worse than those who've gone before me? I hardly think so! And when I need strength, He is there. And I...I share the setiments of Moses in Exodus 33. God, If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. And He promises me that His Presence will go with me, and He will give me rest. And I pray, like Moses, God...if your Presence does not go with me please don't even send me because I'll just end up looking like everyone else (and probably make a mess). And I pray that God will show me His's all around. In the mountains, in my friends, family, co-laborers, in the canyons, and if I look real close and pray real hard...I will see it in my "enemies".

Lord, hide me in some cleft...protect me...and help me to know exactly when you pass by. You alone make this life me to reach out to others and love them like you love them (and me.)