Dec 8, 2013

A time to plant and a time to uproot . . .

Time for Everything

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every [a]event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man

11 He has made everything [b]appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, [c]yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
 Ecclesiates 3:1-11

Things were sorted, sold, given, packed and moved.  We felt sad, joyful, anxious, sometimes numb but mostly excited.  Animals were given away, and a temporary home was found for another. The "things" became less and less and the echo in the house made of concrete became more and more.  Goodbye letters from classmates and co-laborers were received and cherished, sweet prayers were said.  While the house had been emptied, our hearts had been filled by sweet "last time for nows."  With a blanket of fog as thick as God's love, we watched the house grow smaller in the background and smiled as we passed friends on their porch waving us goodbye as we drove away to greet the new day.

I like to think of myself as the planter . . . you know, the one that has the control over the little seed, but the reality is that I am more the plant, and God can move and transplant as He pleases. The seed is our walk with Christ that beckons us to not remain stationary, comfortable, stagnant but to walk with Jesus, submitted to the word of God, producing fruit, and to grow in our likeness of Him. A time to plant and a time to uproot.

The actual process of being uprooted and  moving across the country in the D.R. is a little more raw than I would say moving in the U.S. would be.  There are no moving companies, just big open bed trucks that have to make as many trips as there is stuff. (P.S. Old tarps worn thin should not be trusted to keep belongings dry. I am pretty sure that upon our return we will be greeted with moldy things. However, everything we need can be summed up in the love of Christ.)

Here is a snapshot of what it looks like to be uprooted and transplanted in the D.R.

HE has made everything appropriate in its time- this we trust! With eternity in our hearts we keep our eyes fixed on Christ as HE uses us for different things now.

Dec 2, 2013

What IT looks like

His countenance calmly matter of fact, he glided the information seamlessly into the middle of conversation  - the casual convo about where we might have lunch.  It. Was. A. Bomb. Yet he never skipped a beat.  Astonished, I studied his expression  – was he joking? No, I think not as it wasn’t a topic one would joke about.  The most devastating of news that a parent could receive had been delivered 6 months prior, the reality of which he and his family were walking through daily, with grim statistics staring them in the face.  Yes, we would eat Mexican, we decided.
Have you seen it?  It is so beautifully obvious and strangely contrary to that which seems normal.  It is beyond explanation.  It is astonishing and marvelous.  It is divine.   It allows for one to be hugely upset while serenely restful.  It is the marriage of peace that passes understanding with absolute trust in God’s sovereignty.  It is faith at its finest wrapped in heavenly hope.  It is the aroma of Christ displayed for maximum glory in the context of total brokenness.  It is being defined not by the devastating  nor swayed by the circumstances.

 I long to be clothed in it because it brings such glory to God to wear His peace, yet the very essence of it is that it can only truly be revealed through the context of  grief.  Human grief is the best showcase for divine peace.  I can’t help but think of Job, whose very affliction arose out of God’s total confidence in Job’s character, reverent and righteous, and it was because of this that God allowed Satan to afflict him.  God was confident that circumstances – losing home, livestock, servants, sons and daughters, relationships, health – would not move Job away from Him, and in fact, these situations did not and Job continued to praise and trust.   Dare I desire to wear this garment of peace knowing that truly the only way for it to shine so bright is with the backdrop of loss of some kind?

The thing is . . . when you have seen it face to face, witnessed it on someone else, and rubbed elbows with it, you can’t HELP but want it.

In a later conversation, knowing that it was Christ in him that could only illicit such a fragrant response to a more than difficult situation, but wanting to hear his own words, I asked our friend, “How is it that you are so matter of fact and oddly peaceful? “ He responded, “ I am hugely upset, but I won’t let this define us.  Every day we will do what is right, and in the end it still may not end well, but we will know that we have honored the Lord.”  Yes, indeed.  I want it. How about you? 

We live in a fallen world, so tests of faith are not always the result of God lowering His hedge of protection, thrusting us out into the frying pan of faith’s fire- such as it was with Job.  Regardless of the root of life’s circumstances, our response is to be

 “Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5: 16 -18

This is how those that are confident of His love and have the conviction of His care are able to be clothed in peace, even when the devastating reality is harsh. This is what the peace of Christ looks like.