Monday, July 29, 2013

commissioned

As missionaries, we have been commissioned a few times in our lives.  The churches that we have come from have sent us out and prayed over us.  The actual definition of commission, if you look it up in webster's dictionary is this:  "Order or authorize to do or produce something."  Kind of generic in terms of things, yet in the missionary world it is on par with being told, "You have our blessing.  Not only that- you have our prayers and we are praying for you to have the power and the authority to go and produce disciples."  We know those churches stand behind us, pray for us and with us, encourage us, support us, and are a big part of what we are doing.  It's a special relationship.

But we have never had the opportunity to be commissioned quite the way we were last weekend.
                                                The kids with their great grandma Boda!

Shawn's grandmother turns 100 this year!  And in honor of her 100th birthday and in celebration of the amazing, godly example she has been and the heritage she is leaving behind her one day, we partied - 300 of us!  Shawn's family is huge - he has 33 first cousins!  From his grandparents on down there are 192 people and counting.  But it's not simply the size of the family that makes this so remarkable - it's the fact that such a huge percentage of the family follows and loves Jesus.  Grandma's prayers over the years have been answered in wonderful ways - she has several children and grandchildren in full time ministry, and many, many more that are serving Jesus in their jobs, families, and communities.  She is, at 99 (she actually turns 100 in September), a supporter of ours in going to the mission field in all ways!

                                                      Shawn with (most of) his cousins!

And she put actions behind her prayers - taking in grandchildren that needed a firm hand and a loving place to live, loving people and accepting them with all their faults, and sometimes speaking her mind!  She came from a place in her life that was not always easy, and I felt from the beginning of my relationship with her that she understood some of the things in my own life that I struggled with.

So to stand up front of these 300 people, have the family come and lay their hands on us and pray for us in getting to the mission field and then the ministry we will be doing there - it was a powerful thing.  We felt like it was yet another confirmation that God is working, and that it is his timing alone that is keeping us here right now as he continues to make things fall into place.

                                   Some of the family that are in full time ministry praying over us

I am so thankful that we were still here to celebrate grandma and to have this time with family.  While I am feeling extremely antsy to get to South Sudan - especially as the summer is flying by and time seems like it is speeding - I am learning to take joy in all the things that we can experience and know while we are still here.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Poema

Ever have one of those weeks at a camp or a retreat, or maybe just time spent alone with God and you take in so much good stuff that you can't digest it all at once?  That was last week at Delta Lake for me.  The morning speaker, Dr. Frank Chan from Nyack College and ATS, spoke into my life as though he had been following us around for the last year taking notes.  Each day I went and pulled out my phone and wrote down everything he said as fast as I could - because I have to keep my hands moving to pay attention to what is being said.  Yes, I am that learner.

So as I went through my notes this week to review, the thing that kept popping up in my head was one of the things he said the first day.  We are God's "poema."  This word, in Greek literally means, "That which is made."  It's where our English word poem comes in.  I have heard it said we are God's masterpiece, we are his workmanship, we are his work of art.  And all these paint a beautiful picture.  But being a voracious reader and a person who writes to work things out, this idea of a being a poem was so mind-blowing to me that I have come back to it time and time again.

Yes, a poem.  One with many stanzas.  Complicated in it's own right, yet beautiful.  Telling a complete story but not until the end when the author is ready to finish it.  You can't take one line or even one stanza of a poem and see the whole beauty or the whole story - you must read slowly and take in each part.  Then at the end it explodes with completeness.  A Psalm.  A story put to music.  A poem.

And I am God's poema?

I don't see myself as that.  I don't see my life as that - especially when I try to take in the little day to day things that make up each line.  I see myself as a faithless woman who whines and complains.  I see my life as stuck.  I see my legacy that I am leaving the children as a hopeless one, riddled with generational sins.  As a writer, I can be so melodramatic!  Yet that is not the whole story.

I am a sinner - but I am saved from that.  I once was a slave to myself, but now I have a new master.  The old is dead and the new has come.  I am like those many, many Psalms that make me identify with the author - the ones that say, "Woe is me, why have you forsaken me?" only to end on, "You are my God and my King.  In you will I trust."  It may take me a while to get to that end, but I do.  Because I am his poema, and he is doing a beautiful thing in me.

So today as I wake, give myself to Him who created me and is still creating this poem, I am thankful.  I am grateful.  I am hopeful.  There are shades of frustration, apathy, anger, and doubt - but they will ultimately be overshadowed by the Author as he continues this story.