Disabled But Able*

Disabled But Able*

“DBA”* is painted on the little sign that hangs on the gate. This is the only indication of the business located in the garage on the property. I entered and walked up to the open garage door. Five busy people paused mid-task when I greeted them, “Ngapi … nawa … ewa.” “Good morning. How are you? … “ There were nods, smiles and greetings returned. Though I had stopped by once before, I reintroduced myself. One young man moved a chair for me to where I could sit and observe their work. I was most welcome.

Their director, who unfortunately didn’t appear that day, had earlier indicated to me that this group could use some assistance in various areas, specifically with their cookie recipe and “they also have spiritual needs” he said. Today I was there to observe and learn.

“Kwakukanga icookie,” one lady explained as she and her colleague scooped spoonfuls of dough and placed them on the baking sheets. “We are baking cookies.” I repeat the ruKwangali phrase, the Bantu syllables rolling off my tongue and feeling oh, so familiar. This is their mother tongue and the language I might have learned had this assignment required it. Two of the young men speak English fairly well and were able to answer my questions: Do you have a printed recipe for the cookie? Might I look at it? Though one of the sighted members looked high and low, the recipe was nowhere to be found. I wonder how long they’ve been making cookies now without referring to the recipe.

I sat and just listened to their conversation. I noticed certain grammatical structures similar to the eMakhuwa I learned in Mozambique. I thought I could distinguish personal pronouns and singular nouns from their plural. I picked up on some noun classes. My heart raced as it dawned on me this could be the perfect “language immersion” environment. Rule one of language learning: listen, listen, listen. Here were five people who had been doing the same assembly line task for years and between them could turn out over 300 cookies in four hours with their eyes closed, literally— since two of them are blind! Unselfconsciously they conversed together, amicably, all morning as they scooped and flattened dough balls, put pans in and out of the oven, lifted hot cookies off the pans onto cooling racks and, finally, packaging them ten to a bag to sell in local stores. And I just listened. “If I had started coming here a year ago, I’d be fluent in this language by now,” I thought with chagrin.

My mind drifted to various language-learning environments I’ve experienced. By far, immersion is the most effective language learning recipe, if you will. Our family practiced this method in Portugal when our Spoon Lickers were very little. [Immersion = except for a few key bilingual helpers, you live and move within the local culture, avoiding contact with speakers of your mother tongue.] To get anywhere, to buy anything, to accomplish any task or errand we were forced to use Portuguese. Our children attended the local day care and went to a local school. We chose a church that didn’t have any English speakers. They have their own stories of the immersion experience — some horrific, some hilarious.

I was jerked back into the present by an automated, English voice rattling off a long number sequence followed by something like “this account owing six-hundred [Namibian] dollars, due March 9 …” then another similar message, and on it went. One of the blind gentlemen was “reading his financial statements in English” in the brilliant way technology has provided for those with his visual challenges “This guy is seriously in debt!” I realized with a start. I turned away – (“Should I be hearing this private information? Though no one else here understands, has he forgotten my presence?”) – out of courtesy, before I caught myself. I might as well look right at him, for all the difference it would make.

My eyes roved the wall. Several old posters are mounted which tell what organization has given financial support to the DBA project and the amount given. They obviously seek to receive money from donors.

Another poster declares “Our ability exceeds our disability.” For, indeed, every member has a physical disability, but you’d never know by watching them get those cookies from a state of raw ingredients to the store shelf.

The poster that intrigued me the most, though, was the paper scroll that extends from ceiling to floor entitled “Our Wish List”. It is full from top to bottom. The items higher on the list, the things absolutely necessary to their business of cookie making, all have a check next to them. Item acquired! I’m not sure how the other items fit into the business of turning out a great cookie, however: a lounge set, dishes, silverware, an espresso machine, a car …

I watch the cookies pile up. They are flat as a sheet of paper. They offer me a sample. The texture reminds me of fruit roll-ups. The flavor is pleasant. It has promise. Maybe they could be marketed as “Cookie Roll-Ups”. Their director is right, though. At some point they strayed from the procedures or ingredients indicated in the original recipe and, though there might be other reasons for diminishing sales, this betrayal of the recipe is obvious. I look back up at the Wish List, and the subtle invitations to contribute, publicizing what they believe they need to succeed in business. But, in truth, they have few orders for the cookies and only need to work two mornings a week to fill them. It isn’t a booming business. It is built on a failing cookie. These cheerful, industrious members have great ability. Unfortunately, their cookie is off the mark…

… like our souls: off the mark, sin-sick and disabled. We present a busy, industrious front, too. We have plans and dreams. Then, in the quiet stillness that catches us unaware, is there an unease? Do we sense all is not well and our soul will not be up to carrying us into a bright future? And are we hoping in the remedies our culture offers us to relieve the dis-ease? A stronger self-image maybe? Or let’s try giving the ache a politically or socially correct label in order to feel better without changing anything inside. I know some pay the witchdoctor to perform a ritual promising peace of soul. But when we awake in the wee hours, and silence surprises us, that ache is still stirring. The soul’s dis-ease is not healed by medication or the affirmation of our culture any more than the cookie will be improved by acquiring a lounge chair. There is only one way to improve that cookie: find the recipe and return to following it. There is only one source of hope for our soul.

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;

Just as the psalmist ‘preached’ to his own soul, I would remind myself, and you, to do the same. Emphasize the words that denote exclusivity. “God alone… from Him … He only … He is … in God is my … is in God.” The salvation of our soul and the healing of its dis-ease, is God’s territory alone. All that your soul requires for health is found in God through His Word; by knowing Him and obeying His instruction. The Creator of your soul offers absolutely everything your soul needs for its vital health. He is exclusive, though. It’s His way only, His Remedy only, His Provision only, or the soul is tormented for eternity. He means for us to place all our souls expectation in Him exclusively.

DBA’s business is that cookie. Our life is the soul. The soul is all we have, really. It is all there is of us that, sooner or later, slips into Eternity. Shouldn’t we, then, attend to it God’s way with no List of Alternative Hopes?

Psalm 62; 130:5; Proverbs 30:5; II Peter 1:3-4

*Not the real name.

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Glory For Me!

Glory For Me!

That which gives you your sense of worth
is your glory.

“Glory!” What comes to mind when you hear the word? I think: jaw-dropping awesomeness, perfection, God, and Christmas. “Glory!” What do you see? I see angels, white and blinding light, glitter and sparkles. Glory. It’s one of those Bible words that we don’t use much nowadays, unless it’s December and we’re singing about it. But the word does appear in the Bible over and over. I was seeing the “glory” theme so often that I decided I’d better take a closer look and understand what is actually being said.

The glory of God is easier to define, even from a brief dictionary definition. glory – n. 1 high renown or honor won by notable achievements 2 magnificence; great beauty; a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight. Granted, this only scratches the surface of what the prophets and apostles mean when they speak of God’s glory but at least our understanding is pointed in the right direction. What really threw me was the passages that quote a human being saying “my glory”. What is that about? Take Psalm 16, for example, where we listen in as David alternately prays to God and talks to his own soul. Towards the end he says,

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices…”

Now, if you are using a modern paraphrase, you probably won’t see the word “glory” here. The translators have accommodated our self-imposed, limited vocabulary. I’m sorry about that because I think the meaning intended in the original manuscript holds layers of richness that contextualised translations miss.

One commentator, Matthew Henry, explains that “our glory is that within us that makes us different from the beasts”. Our tongue, our ability to speak, distinguishes us from animals. Therefore, in the case of Psalm 16 David audibly, with speech, rejoices in the Lord. But speech is not our only distinguishing characteristic. There’s a deeper layer of meaning to “glory”.

We differ from animals in that we are aware of the self. We think about our self. We consider our image and we ponder the level of satisfaction we have attained. We are conscious of our self, of our soul. So now I invite you to read Psalm 84 with that in mind. Notice that in David’s self-awareness, he directs his soul to God. David is the king! He sits on a throne and lives in a palace! But this is not where he finds his worth. “The Lord will give grace and glory”, he assures his soul, “no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” We see here, then, that “glory” also carries the meaning ‘the weight of significance, honor, esteem’. And here is the point. David, for all his talents, skills, wealth and power derived the weight of his significance from the Lord who gives it to those who trust in him! What freedom this truth has given me from the bondage of self — of having to assert myself, to protect and look after the measure of my worth and significance!

Do you see the powerful truth here? If you trust in the Lord Jesus your identity, self-esteem, value and worth is wrapped up in him. He shares his glory with you. In Him you live and move and have your being. Our personal glory is centered in our Savior, the only truly Glorious One.

Now, when you read your Bible and come across the phrase “my glory”, don’t rush over it. Amplify the meaning with “my esteem” or “the weight of significance” and catch a glimpse of the further glories that await you and I! Go to John 17 with this in mind and you’ll be blown away! Christ’s glory, which He has given to us, is for the purpose of unity among us, His followers, to the end that the world may know God sent Jesus. I am identified with Christ, sharing in his worth, not to realize my self but to manifest the truth of the gospel, God’s glory, to the world! Genuine significance lies in an absence of pride in the “me” that I love, and finds its pride and worth in God’s glory.

There is an old hymn I sang as a child that comes to mind. Sing along with me (or say it) and in your mind think “significance or esteem” when you sing “glory”.

When all my labors and trials are o’er, and I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore, will through the ages be glory for me.

[chorus] Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me!

When, by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in Heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face, will through the ages be glory for me. [chorus]

Friends will be there I have loved long ago; Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know, will through the ages be glory for me. [chorus]

Let Them Eat Meat!

Let Them Eat Meat!

While on our home assignment some dear friends took us out for dinner. This was no small expense for them, we being a family of 7 with four growing boys. What’s more, this brave couple chose a steak house and said, “Order whatever you want.” Naturally, one of our young carnivores chose the largest, most expensive steak on the menu. Like many families on limited income, I didn’t cook much red meat so when the boys had a chance for some real man-food, they took it, much to my embarrassment.

But nothing compares to the Namibian meat eaters! Game (think kudu, oryx, eland) biltong (like jerky only better) is a routine snack. Game, as well as beef, are main staples of the diet here. Whereas in other African countries you can buy peanuts, roasted corn, coconut fudge, sugar cane or samosas from curb-side vendors, in Namibia you buy Russians (I don’t refer to people trafficking but to the local version of our Polish sausage), or bits of grilled beef. Recently an acquaintance returned from a hunting trip. My husband was invited to the ritual in which all real men participate: dressing the game and butchering, mixing the marinade and putting the biltong meat to soak. My man came home with pounds of game filet and a tub full of marinating strips, which he hung to dry according to instructions. What will last us for months, would disappear after a few weeks in the more carnivorous households around us. These folks know how to chew meat. To say they desire it is an understatement!

I am looking for people who crave God’s word like that. People who chew on the meat of His truth revealed with an insatiable appetite. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, desire the pure milk of the word, just like a newborn desires milk, so that you can grow. The apostle Peter so pleads with the first century church-goers. (I Peter 2:1-3) We live among a people who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The good news of salvation has come to them. They have said “It is good!” They share in the benefits of grace in belonging to a local church: they are baptised, partake of the Lord’s supper, they are comforted by prayers and visits when they’re sick, are helped in trouble and, seemingly most important, they are guaranteed a well attended funeral service officiated by an ordained minister when they die. Yes, they taste of the good gifts God bestows on His covenant family.

Peter, as well as the other apostles, urge the people in all the places they preach to go on from tasting to desiring. He longs for them to crave God’s word the way a baby desires to nurse. He thrives on this milk until he grows up and wants to chew. Peter says that this should be the church’s response to the tasty morsels of grace they sample. The gracious gifts of God’s presence among His people should stir up a yearning, a hunger and longing after Him and His strong words, like it did for David (Psalm 119:9-16). He exhorts them to grow up and chew on the meat! They should be returning continually to the word and meditating on it, storing it up in their memory, pressing it into their heart and bringing it to bear in their lives. They should be filled richly with Christ’s word in order to teach and correct one another; to comfort and encourage one another. (Colossians 3:16-17) Their counsel should come from Scripture (Ps. 119:25). Husbands should be showering their wives with God’s word (Ephesians 5:25-28) and building their marriage and homes according to God’s ordinances.

But instead, these converts to the faith, these tasters, were absorbing themselves in comparisons, divisions and criticisms. They were full of malice, envy and hypocrisy because they contented themselves with tasting, just lounging on the fringes of grace. They stopped short of actually feeding on God’s word— they had no craving or desire for it. Those noble people of Berea, however, loved God’s word and fed on it, instead of preying on each other. And so they discovered the truth and believed that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

This past Sunday in Rundu, a local minister declared to his congregation that their denomination is unwell. This dear man of God has recognised that neither the laity nor the ministers yearn for God. Most disregard His word, rarely read it (or hear it read) and meditate on it even less. They, too, like those early Christians dispersed throughout Asia and the Mediterranean, are absorbed in controversies, rumors, fear of the spirits and idolatries of their past. Most, it seems, do not hunger to know Christ, and so they lack wisdom, godliness and the graces that abound in one who nourishes his soul on the word. They are unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ, shortsighted, blind, and have forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins. They attend church, but they are unwell. Their souls, in fact, are in great danger. (See Hebrews chapter 6.)

Our soul’s meat is the everlasting, unchanging word of God. “Father, as a dear pants for the water; as a newborn cries for milk; as a hunter craves meat, may we hunger for you. May we nourish our soul on the solid food of your word. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who makes your word alive and active to convict us of sin, bring us to repentance, comfort us, teach us, guide and nourish us, to make us healthy in spirit. The kudu filets in my freezer will run out one day. But your word, your truth and satisfying nourishment, will last forever! Amen and amen.”

A soul that thirsts for God, is a soul that hungers for His word. Don’t ever apologise for eating The Meat. Choose It. Rejoice over It. Savor It. Desire It. Over and over again.

II Peter chapter 1; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:57

A Guide for the Descent

A Guide for the Descent

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, our first Spoon Licker boarded a plane in Kenya and flew away to college life in the U.S.A. His high school graduation marked the end of the season when we, all seven of us, lived in Africa … until this month. For almost eight days we lived together again on the continent we had all called “home” for so many years. Our seven has multiplied to twenty-one and there we were, under “one roof” again. During those short but glorious eight days, we visited, played games, sang, read God’s word together, prayed, cooked, shopped, washed clothes and even got a little sleep now and then. And we went places.

We had a guide who led us on each of these outings. These men knew the roads and drove us safely to the day’s destination. Our safari drivers knew where to find the animals and took us right to them. A family our size, with members from babies to grandparents, can be cumbersome to move. Our guides were patient as they periodically reminded us, gently, that “we need to be going now”.

One fine day, a knowledgeable, local man led us on a trail through his village at the base of majestic Kilimanjaro. The path was well beaten, so we probably wouldn’t have gotten lost by ourselves but our guide stopped us along the way to describe the flora and fauna and traditional customs and practices that related to the things we were seeing. Our journey was enhanced by this expert who had been this way hundreds of times before. He was not only knowledgeable, but enthusiastic about his mountain home.

We trusted him to lead us safely. The path was usually wide enough for just one person; it often bordered the very rim of a ravine. Caution was necessary. One of our small ones slipped, falling over the edge only to be immediately caught up by our watchful guide.

The views of the lush valley, the living compounds and the terraced gardens were reward enough for our exertions. However, the real prize and goal of the long hike was the waterfall at the end. And we weren’t disappointed. After splashing in the water and slipping on the rocks, it was finally time to get off the mountainside. Mothers threw their calls to the head of the line, “Junior, I said walk! Don’t run!” (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.) Going down can be treacherous and the risk of falling is greater than on the ascent. The guide walked in front, a barrier to stop any bodies whose legs moved faster than their heads.

It’s suddenly over. This epic Africa reunion, this mountain top experience, is history. I am required to leave the peak, but don’t know how. My human guides were exactly suited to their job, and their job is over. I need a different Guide for this descent. Planning this event took years. It was challenging and exciting. But coming down afterwards can be perilous. I’ve stood at the top with my husband, children and grandchildren, together. I gloried in the unity expressed as we worshiped our Lord Jesus together, sang and laughed, played and prayed; as I observed our members demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in self-control, in patience and in overlooking the faults of others. Together we pressed into the moments and tasted joy. How do I come down from this? My Lord Jesus— patient, knowledgeable, eager to lead me— takes me safely down.

“Father God, give me your mind and your thoughts. Orient my reflections. Monitor my emotions. Correct any wrong impressions I may carry with me. Keep me from slipping on these small pebbles that become little wheels under the weight of my foot, sending me careening. Control the speed of my descent – not too fast lest I race over a word or deed worthy of a longer look; and not too slow, lest I become distracted from the present joys, morosely mourning the end of the peak experience, dishonouring you and distrusting your goodness by coveting more.

“You have done great things for us. May I remember with a thankful heart. May I keep Christ, the wisdom that is his, before me at every turn. Remind me that the gathering, though so personally satisfying, was ultimately about you. Our coming together was not an end in itself for our sakes alone, but served (and serves still) to exalt Jesus as Lord and Saviour so that you, Lord God, will be known by those in our respective realms of influence. With this mind, I will descend safely and my foot will not stumble. Amen.”

I Corinthians 13; Proverbs 3:19-26, Psalm 87:7; Psalm121; Philippians 2:1-11

The Making of a Nation

The Making of a Nation

Down through the ages, since the beginning of time, nations, countries and governments have come, and gone. One will shine while another’s light will dim to a flicker. God has ordained the exact number of years, to the day, that each nation will flourish. And He has a specific purpose in doing so.

And God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,…

God brought forth the nations. What’s more, He governs every ethnic, language and people group. God has marked out the physical, geographic boundaries allotted to each one and has ordained that they live within these borders for a specified season of time. These are political borders separating one government from another, as well as natural borders of mountains, rivers or oceans. The Maker of nations determines their entrances and exits, their locations and their relocations. He determines human migrations from one place to another. And He does this for a purpose. It is

so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… Acts 17:26-27

If we could stand back into space and watch our peopled Earth, I imagine we’d see this orb pulsating with movement. There would be streaks of rapid transport from one continent to another, and slower masses floating on the water from one shore to another. There would be fleeing and chasing, trudging and riding from this end to that. Back and forth. From here to there. Walls going up, walls being ripped down. Fences and tunnels. In and out. Stumbling in the dark. Looking for the Light.

The media, and our textbooks, will tell us this to and fro-ness is due to war, to famine, to politics and persecutions. Individuals seek asylum, or simply a better life. But these are only the conditions in which movement seems expedient. The purpose is other. The purpose is God’s.

We call them “displaced” peoples. But in reality, God has strategically placed the peoples.  Though the conditions may be unjust, they are not senseless.  God repositions peoples and boundaries so that they will be pressed to look for Him. He shows us His intentions in the “so that”. When up until now, His pleasant and bright gifts, so abundantly given, have not caused a nation to worship the Giver, He then may bless it with crisis. He offers the peoples afflictions so that in the dark days of their nation they will grope for the One True God and find Him. He is not far; He doesn’t hide. He will make sure the seeker finds and is found by Him. Thus, God relocates entire nations, as well as individuals, so that they might know Him, the God and Savior Jesus Christ. For there is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.

I don’t know how Brexit will change the face of Europe. I don’t know how the next U.S. president will redefine the nation. I don’t know who will, or won’t become “great again”. The coming decades may bring upheaval the likes of which we can’t imagine. This is not a doomsday prophecy but a declaration of hope! Eyes of faith see evidence that God is at work transferring people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His glorious light. The King of kings and Lord of lords is deposing some, empowering others – changing demographics all over the globe – in order to create a nation composed of members from every people group who will walk in His light. A new nation. A nation of people who He calls His own and who worship Him exclusively.

If you are not worshiping God, He may take you to where you don’t want to go in hopes that you will finally look for Him.

Do you worship Christ, the God of the nations, the only Savior of the world?Consider that He may relocate you to where someone is seeking Him; that you are being strategically placed to turn someone from the darkness to light.

Amidst the changes, let us not fear calamity. We must pray against it, we must engage in our democratic processes, of course; but never panic. Rather, let us recognize and glory in God’s mighty power to save; in His activity in the world to accomplish His will. The Lord does reign! Let the earth rejoice; let the coastlands be glad! Though his strategies may be obscured to us, know that He is righteous and just and He will accomplish His purpose. He is preparing a people who are His own to live forever in His light!

Among the gods, there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name; for You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10

A closer look: Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:13, 14; Revelation 21:22-22:5;                  Psalm 97;    Job 12:23-25

Canary in the Cart

Canary in the Cart

Counsel in self-awareness from Psalm 131

“You can be anything you want to be! You’ve got it in you! The sky’s the limit! Go for it! A little bit of hard work and it’s yours! Remake yourself into whatever you want to be!” So shout the magazine covers, the book titles, the therapists, the parents to their children … so insist those who have a thorough belief in human capability, who scorn boundaries and limits as mere hurdles in the road to be cleared. Our world, especially my western culture, holds faithfully to this view of the self.

It is important to be aware of your self, your heart and your soul. But if you share my same faith in Christ Jesus, your awareness is not based on human philosophies. You know that God, the maker of your self, also instructs you how to think about that self. David, shepherd, warrior and king, made himself vulnerable to us, laid his heart bare within the pages of scripture. His intent, second to ascribing all praise to God, is to instruct us on a proper self- awareness – – seeing ourselves from God’s point of view. So let’s take a look at one of his songs that has instructed me down through the years.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty.

David does not make much of himself. He does not desire to be significant to anyone but his sheep. He is not impressed with himself or with his influence. He is not proud of his accomplishments nor think himself above others. He is humble, seeing himself through God’s eyes, oriented towards loving God, not himself. His focus on God puts his view of self in its proper place.

Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.

What might these “great matters and “things too profound for me” be? David didn’t try to be what he wasn’t. How much are we tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought; as indispensable or deserving or invincible? How foolishly we build up our children’s esteem in themselves, only for them to discover later that we built on shifting sands. It was all a lie. No one can have all they want, do anything they want and be anything they may want to be. David, in his humility, knew his limits. We are wise to study ours.

Secondly, how taken is your mind with speculations? Do I let my thoughts go round and round with speculations about other people, what they think of me; with the future and the “what ifs”? Such ponderings either serve to stoke my pride, or fan the flame of my fears into a blaze that singes even those around me.

A third great matter, things too profound for us, are the great mysteries of God. Not even our neatly packaged, instructive catechisms, statements of faith and systematic theologies can contain Him. David praises God whose thoughts are very deep and can’t be fathomed. Isaiah tells us God’s thoughts and His ways are above ours, His designs too deep for our understanding. And Paul labors to explain how it is that our slavery to sin enables God to show mercy to us all. How do I wrap my mind around that? The apostle himself is astonished. You can just hear him finally raise his voice and declare, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” [from Romans 11]  Do I humbly admit that God has purposefully placed the full extent of His deep thoughts and divine wisdom beyond my reach?

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

A nursing child is a restless child in his mother’s arms, banging his head on her chest, twisting this way and that, until he gets what he’s rooting around for. But a weaned child will sit contentedly.

David sent his soul to rest in the God he totally trusted. No head banging to sort out thoughts that circled in his head; no rooting around for what wasn’t his; not flailing his arms in self-assertion. He cried, he questioned and in the end, he was content to let his soul restfully trust in the God he hungered to know. He seems to say, “Let me know God, and He will tell me all I need to know about my self, my circumstances, and in His perfect timing, too.”

“Thus does a gracious soul quiet itself under the loss of that which it loved and disappointment in that which it hoped for, and is easy whatever happens, lives and lives comfortably, upon God and the covenant-grace, when creatures prove dry breasts.” M. Henry

Canary perched on the seat in the grocery cart. I rolled us down the aisle of the store while the little guy sang clearly, sweetly (that’s why I called him Canary) the chorus he must have heard repeatedly at home:  “No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”   He cared nothing for himself, or what other shoppers might think. Shamelessly, he sang what he knew about Jesus.
These had been tense months. We were waiting for all of the financial support we needed before we could go to Portugal for language study. Any day now we would be closing our suitcases for the last time and getting on that plane. But the days stretched to weeks, and to months. We moved from one temporary house to another. Uncertainty and change were the norm in our home. And yet, our Canary sang. He was not concerned with these great matters before us. He did not bother his soul about the moving, the leaving, becoming a third culture kid or any other profound thing. His soul was quiet and at rest for he trusted God.

Oh Israel, [oh Church, oh Christian,] put your hope in the Lord now and always.

Canary has outgrown the cart, but not the hope in his heart;
regarding his “self” in small measure, to know Christ is his treasure.

 Photo: grocery store in Namibia

Under the Big Screen

Under the Big Screen

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust …
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid …

In my distress I called upon the Lord …
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled…

The show was about to begin. The deep rumble reverberated in our bones, giving us notice to take our seats. I, my two brothers and a handful of cousins scrambled up onto the car. From the vast, horizontal surfaces of the late ’50’s model sedan we scanned the sky.

He flew upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His secret place,
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.

The curtain went up and we gazed, all agog, at the monstrous thunderheads, the changing hues from lighter greys to deep teals. The breeze picked up, which served to heighten our anticipation. All around us, 360 degrees, the eerie blackness of a stormy day closed in. God was near. We were certain of it. He was going to do something really big.

The Lord thundered from heaven
And the Most High uttered His voice …
He sent out his arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.

Our home had no television. We didn’t go to movies. God was the creator, producer and director of the shows that fired our imaginations. And His special effects still are unmatched. Near the horizon, where the Kansas wheat fields met the sky, lightning zipped across the expanse like arrows released from the bowstring. The distant rumbling rolled closer. “Jesus is now moving furniture around in the mansion he’s preparing for us,” we imagined.

Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
At your rebuke, oh Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

A flash. The world around us turned white. For one breathtaking moment we saw a million individual heads of shining wheat brought into relief against the stormy backdrop. Each one seemed to shout, “Surprise! Look at me in all my glory given me by the Glorious One!” It only lasted an instant; we drew our collected breath. And before we could exhale, the crashing thunder blasted our eardrums. That was close! And totally exhilarating. The rain came fast now in slushy pellets. Hail! Time to watch the show from inside the house.

 

Through imaginative play a child tries reality on for size. Does it fit? Does this God of the big screen square with the God Daddy reads to us about in the Bible? Does this God go to school with me and protect me from the bullies? He does. And it fits this young heart, this precious faith.

Take every opportunity to point your child’s imagination heavenward. So then, when he is no longer a child and death surrounds him, evil frightens him and he is in deep distress, he will call on this God, his Lord. He will also say

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

How capable is your God? Your child’s God? Maybe we need to get out more; to take a front seat under the biggest screen on earth and try that on for size! Hey, it’s free!

Psalm 18

Photo:  The Kavango River and Angola as seen from Rundu, Namibia