Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just visiting

When we lived in Malawi it was custom to welcome visitors that were in your church.  And not just a handshake and a "hi," but you had to have them come to the front of the church, have them tell their name, why they were there, where they were from, who they knew at the the church, etc.  It always seemed like overkill to me, as a person who would have preferred to stay tucked away in the back row (also not allowed - especially as a white visitor!)  But it would have been offensive to them if the whole thing had not been played out.

Personally, I hate being a visitor.  We have been "visiting" a different church at least once a week for a couple of months now.  And please don't get me wrong - most of these churches have welcomed us with open arms and warm hearts.  It's not about the host.  But inside me I cringe at the term.  "Visitor" implies that you don't really belong there; that you are not part of the daily activities there enough to know what is going on, or to be a part of something.  In short, it implies that you are on the outside looking in.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to continually be on the outside and on my own.  Everyone wants to belong to something somewhere.  It's one of those amazing things about being part of a church family!

Yet God reminds me again that I am just a visitor.  I am an alien and stranger in this world. And it's not just because of the life that I have signed up for - which is one, admittedly, of never fitting in no matter what country I live in.  But because this world is not my home.  I know I have written about this before, but my limited brain power sometimes refuses to believe this and live as though it is true.  I want to grasp on to something here and believe that it is forever and will never change and will always revolve around me.  Amazingly selfish (and sounds like a 5 year old) I know, but true.  It's just another way this long process of support raising is pointing out those things that I like to ignore most of the time.  So today my prayer is to remember who I am for real - a citizen of Heaven and a child of the King of Kings.  To remember that this world is temporary, and that I want all those people around me to be a part of the forever kingdom with me.  To pray to and love the Father that will never call me a visitor in His house.  To be an ambassador to this strange and foreign land that I am visiting.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

even the winds and the waves obey him

Mark 4:35-41

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

As I was reading this to the boys before bed tonight, I actually had to stop at verse 40.  They looked at me, puzzled for a moment about what the hold up was, so I finished reading.  Then we talked about faith a little - what it is, what is isn't, how it is, etc.  Usually Shawn puts the kids to bed and does this with them, but I was thankful to be the one reading it tonight, because I needed to hear it.  

I have been thinking about so many things lately that cause my heart to be heavy.  Friends whose families are falling apart for one reason or another; mothers whose hearts are breaking as they watch their children self-destruct and feel helpless; friends facing long cancer journeys with no promises of health and healing here; kids whose families are killing and being killed -by each other-not understanding the effect it has on everyone that comes into their paths.  

This world is messed up.  Broken.  

I fear a lot, I do.  I admit it.  I am often saying to Shawn, "Should I be worried about this?"  Fear use to overtake everything in my life.  I couldn't stay alone - yet here I am in our house without him tonight.  I couldn't be in the dark - now I can't sleep with a light on.  At times I couldn't even ride in the car without having panic attacks because I was afraid of having an accident.  Now I feel like I practically live on the road.  I have been victorious over many fears in my life.

Yet when it comes to things with people - those people I love - I get afraid.  Afraid that I can't help.  Afraid that I have somehow failed them.  Afraid that God has stopped listening to my prayers for them.  The squalls start to come in and fear, anxiety, and doubt creep in to every pore in my body.  And I ride out the storm for a while - too proud to call out for help or too caught up in believing the lie that he is not involved anymore.  But when I do, when I finally cry out to Him, then he calms the storm.

Not outwardly - at least not usually.  The diagnosis is still the same, the helplessness is still there.  People are still responsible for their own choices, and I can't make them for them.  But inwardly, the storm starts to calm and I start to remember who He is.

He is the one that even the winds and the waves obey.

Andrew, RJ, and I talked about that tonight.  How cool it would be to be able to say, "Stop!" and have the wind die down and the sea go calm.  Yet we have that power, don't we?  Again, maybe not in the physical sense (always).  But in those inward things, or in those spiritual places where we are a torrent of guilt, shame, fear, anger, lust...we can speak against those in the name of Jesus.

I am thankful for kids who remember these things better than me sometimes.