Bye Lines

Bye Lines

“Time to say ‘goodbye’”, Sarah Brightman’s breathy crooning soared up and over the mango and the cashew trees, wafting in under our tin roof. The bar down the road, like most bars in Africa, graciously shared their music with the entire neighborhood. One raunchy, raucous rap or intrusive, throbbing rock song after another pushed it’s way into our evening routine. Then, suddenly, Sarah is singing goodbye. It seemed so incongruous, out of place – and yet, comforting in an odd sort of way.

Here are some down to earth goodbyes I have known:

“May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent one from the other.” One branch of my family repeats in unison this covenant made between Laban and Jacob. (Gen. 31:49) Their relationship had been strained, at best. Deceit and mistreatment are the words that come to mind. When Jacob finally left Laban’s employ they reconciled, promising not to avenge wrongs, acknowledging that God would see and hold accountable the one who sabotages their family relationships. I’m not sure why my family clan has used this as their goodbye, but it really would be an appropriate one for some of our situations.

“I hate goodbyes – I’ll just say ‘until next time’”.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” The Aaronic blessing – Numbers 6:24-26

Tearful goodbyes: Standing in a circle, holding hands, various ones pray, then we sing the Doxology together. God has blessed one branch of my family with more than their share of musical talent. I love singing with them but never make it to the final “Amen” of that farewell, as I’m usually sobbing by that time. Some of those family members I will never see again this side of Heaven.

Painful goodbyes: the final visit with grandchildren before returning to Africa for another term — my small grandson spontaneously stooped down, grabbed a couple pieces of gravel from the drive and handed them to me as I got into the car – his way of recognizing my sadness and bestowing a blessing. I only registered the blessing later. At the time, it all just hurt.

I remember clearly where my brave, precious mother was sitting when I bade farewell before our final term in Mozambique. Usually positive and dry-eyed when we depart, this time her lip was trembling, her eyes pleading. I sensed within me that I’d never see her walk again. We promised to not go more than a year without seeing her. She smiled then, and released us. It was a painful departure, and it was the last time I saw her walk.

I carry deep within me my father-in-law’s goodbye. Here we were, a young couple with four little children and ten pieces of luggage at least. A crowd of dear friends and family gathered around us at O’Hare to enclose us in a tight circle and pray for us before we boarded our plane for another continent. The children were his grandchildren; the luggage, the possessions they would need for the next four years; but the young man was his own son. My husband’s dear father, and mine because hubby and I are one, gripped me in an uncharacteristic hug. And then, with his voice close to my ear he chocked out , “Please, take care of my son.” At various times in our marriage, his heartfelt “last instructions” have echoed in my mind and I remember that my husband is also someone’s beloved son whom they hope will be cherished as they have cherished him.

I have known some who pick a quarrel in the final days or hours before a goodbye that will initiate a long separation. Maybe they think: “It won’t be so painful if I convince myself they aren’t worthy of my love anyway.” This way of saying goodbye is selfish, destructive to all parties, and is like a curse on the relationship.

Goodbyes are important. The way we say goodbye can pronounce a curse, or a blessing.

Elijah bade farewell to his ardent disciple, Elisha, with a blessing – the prophetic mantle was passed on to him with all the enabling he needed to fulfil God’s calling. II Kings 2

Jesus’ goodbye to his disciples was a promise of great blessing – a clear mandate for service and the power of the Holy Spirit within them to qualify them for the work. (Acts 1) In both the case of Elijah and Jesus, their disciples received a greater blessing at the farewell than they had while living in the bodily presence of their master. They received a double portion, a blessing that saw them through to the end of their days.

How often have I bid a farewell with my mind full of my own sorrow and deprivation? Was my loved one blessed in the parting, or have I been too absorbed with my feelings about the separation to bestow a blessing?

Our family parted in July after a sweet reunion. We planned our goodbye ritual in advance: we stood in a circle, sang Mayibuye (our favorite Africa song), repeated Aaron’s blessing as a prayer, then sang the Doxology. It moved me, blessed me, and I actually made it to the “Amen” – just. Our farewell was a fitting end, sending us all our separate ways with full and happy hearts.

How do you say goodbye? I know that I want to be less concerned about expressing my personal feelings and more generous to appropriately bless.

Time to say goodbye! So, I’ll see ya’ — here, there, or in the air!

On Pencils, Planes, and Prayer

On Pencils, Planes, and Prayer

It’s that time of year again. Back to school. Newspaper ads illustrated with colorful Fall leaves, rulers, and pencils. Phone calls to organise the car pool. Athletic fees, new jeans, a bigger back pack. But these are not my memories of my children’s back to school days.

My memories of the season are: not wanting to go to bed that last night of their month home, confirming they had the clothes they needed for the next 3 months at least, a two-day road trip to the international airport and lapping up every last minute of being together, sharing the Lord’s supper that final night, waving to them from the observation deck as they boarded the plane, and already longing for the day three months hence when I would see them coming my direction across the tarmac.

I had been one of those moms who vehemently declared she would never, ever send her children to boarding school. I was not THAT kind of mom. I like to redeem myself by saying that we did not send them— rather, they begged to go and we finally released them!

Our first SL was not yet ten when we made a quick stop, during a Kenyan road trip, at The School, that excellent ‘school in the clouds’ which perches perfectly on the edge of the Rift Valley. He then announced, “I will go to this school,” and his mom shot back, “I don’t think so”, but inside she said “over my dead body”. Thankfully for me, attending The School wasn’t even an option for us – our finances would not permit the expense. Relieved, I put the whole issue out of my mind. But the SL did not. The idea simmered there his whole, homeschooling/public schooling life until one bright day, when the circumstances of our family changed completely. This was the day we realized that the organization we had recently joined was the one to which The School belonged. And now, The School belonged to us, too.

We had been in our homeland, sweating through a transition for almost five years. All of our children were eager to return to Africa but the eldest was ready to enter his junior year of high school and we wondered. .. Would this one, almost ready to leave home anyway, want to return with us? “Will you? Would you [pleeeeease]?” (we were almost afraid to ask). And the response? “I will. But only if I can go to The School.” So we exalted together that what had heretofore been impossible, God had worked to make possible. God had known all along what we had never imagined. We had about three weeks to get our 16-year old ready, and then he was gone. This sudden burst out of the family circle that left a big hole that took my breath away. I didn’t think I could go through this four more times. But my husband and I were faced with the probability that we would, because the door had been opened – and now it swung both ways.

SL2 began to set her sights on The School, too. So, I made a plan. Homeschooling moms have a broad job description, and I loved that. I incorporated my plan into their home education. It went something like this: Your dad and I will consider letting you go to THE boarding school of your dreams (but not before 9th grade) if and when you demonstrate you are ready. Before you are ready to leave home you must possess and regularly demonstrate these skills and habits (boys and girl alike):

  1. Be a leader, not a blind follower. Must not give in to peer pressure.
    2.  Must be in the habit of reading your Bible and praying on a daily basis, without being reminded.
    3.  We must observe that your faith influences every area of your life.
    4.  You must know how to scramble eggs, cook pasta, set the table and clean up       afterwards.
    5.  You must know how to mend seams and sew on buttons and put in a hem by hand.
    6. You must master the art of cleaning the house (and this will take lots of practice), including the toilet and even down to dusting the baseboards (if they exist).
    7.  You must be a good student in your home studies.
    8.  Finally, in those weeks before you leave, you sew the name tags, required by the school’s laundry service, on your own clothes!

I thought I had it fixed. After all, many young people today don’t even go into marriage with these requirements met! Yep, I was sure I’d have the remaining four SLs home for life! Well, you’ve already guessed that it didn’t happen that way. Here’s what did happen. I engaged in what has been the highest privilege of my life: to prepare the children God gave us to leave home. God generously showered us with wise counsel from His word, and blessed us with faith and His presence in order to use us as vehicles of grace in their lives. We became simply the tools He used for a season to fashion these children according to His plan.

Over the next ten years God was very busy in our children’s lives and hearts. And the tools He used got a good workout! SL2 was ready, as far as we were concerned. But she believed she needed one more year to establish Mozambique as her home before she left it. And she wanted to be engaged in a ministry apart from her parents before she left. God worked wisdom within her.

A couple years later, the next one was ready. But he said he had unfinished business with his Mozambican friends. Some had not yet heard the gospel clearly and he wanted another year to witness to them. God worked to form a leader after His own heart.

And so it went, with each one, God was working. What an honor, what an adventure it was to participate with our Heavenly Father as He set each one on the course of His choosing. Oh yes, at first I cleverly made plans to enjoy our teenagers at home until they went to college. But soon I saw clearly how God wanted to turn those plans into His own program to send them away to be a light and salt in other places. I am so grateful that they are His; that He has known all along how He will form their hearts. They belong to Him, not to me. And He does all things well.

Are you shopping for pencils and back packs? Maybe your students don’t go further than dining room table for lessons.  Did you just put your precious son or daughter on a plane.  Maybe, like me, you’re a grandparent now, observing from afar as your grandchildren enter the “back to school” season.  Whatever the case, this is a prayer for our children that the Father delights to answer:

“May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make them complete in every good work to do His will, working in them what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20, 21

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

A Spoon Lickers Memory

A Spoon Lickers Memory

 It’s winter in Namibia. The wind bites outside and the ceramic tile floor is cold inside. I know of some North American ex-pats, living in this part of the world, who actually celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas in July because that’s when it feels right. Our family never went so far as that, but I did try to keep as many of our traditions as possible. Over the years, bit by bit, I modified my expectations. I remember one very hot December 25th we even had chicken and noodles (homemade at that!) for our holiday feast. Christ’s birth brought hope and joy to the world and our home, just the same.

So it is fitting that I post, in July, an article one of my SLs wrote about a Thanksgiving at home almost 20 years ago.  I am delighted to present …

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Lessons from an Ill-fated Holiday Feast

by Heidi Carlson

A naked, fluorescent bulb dangled from the ceiling. The power source – a dusty car battery – lay on the red cement floor. Figures in varying stages of acute fatigue cast shadows on the cement block walls that were hosts to various shades of deteriorating white. Humidity engulfed them as they quickly stripped off every possible layer of clothing, only preserving the most minimal, acceptable amount of modesty. A mosquito whirred its wings in dizzying flight on the window screen. In a split-second, a gecko expertly ran down the screen from the top corner and ate his hearty meal just as we were beginning ours. This was not the setting of a military interrogation, but the setting of our Thanksgiving dinner.

How did it come to this? How did we get here, across the days and miles?

A school bus, two plane rides, a crowded-goats-included public bus, the back of a pick-up truck over the mountain along the lake, across no man’s land by bicycle, a hitchhiked ride in a businessman’s Land Rover, and, finally, a twelve-hour journey in the “first class” car of a very slow train. What it amounted to was complete exhaustion. I have since felt similar exhaustion in the days that followed the birth of each of my children. That delirious exhaustion is notorious. I also have felt the same weary, travel-induced walking coma in Portugal when, after several flights and time changes, our hosts treated us to a traditional Portuguese feast of bacalhau com natas (creamed cod) at 10 pm. The feast was impeccable. I remember every delicious bite – before I rudely crashed back on the sofa and surrendered to my primal need for sleep.

But this post-train ride Thanksgiving was a joyous homecoming with a feast fit for the prodigal son. Mom had waited for months, then weeks, then days and hours for our return from boarding school and had prepared traditional American fare – almost.

Helmeted Guinea FowlTurkey was not available in Mozambique, so she marinated and roasted a local guinea fowl. Pumpkins? Not available. How about sweet potato pie instead? There was an assortment of other dishes spread across the table in the buzzing glare of the bulb. With few words and weak smiles, I forced myself to be gracious and eat something before I crawled under the mosquito net and went to bed. Locally grown guinea fowl sounds like a foodie-gourmet-heritage breed kind of thing to eat. But this wild guinea fowl? Not so much. The first few movements of the jaw brought out the rich flavor enhanced by the marinade. The following 20 or so chews failed to break down the tight sinews. It was like chewing gum, but guinea fowl gum. After the flavor was gone, the muscle was still there. Really good flavor, we kept saying sincerely. It was true. But it didn’t mask the toughness of the wild fowl.

Then there was the sweet potato pie, the other item on the menu I remember distinctly. It tasted just as a fine sweet potato pie should taste. That is to say, it doesn’t taste at all, and should not be substituted for, the expected pumpkin pie. The two are not remotely related.

I felt so guilty. We were forcing grins and trying to keep our lids open for a meal Mom had prepared with great love in expectation of our return. One could say it was a complete flop as far as holiday meals go, but I don’t think so. We took away several lessons. First, don’t try to recreate food from the home country with inadequate substitutes. Early members of the vegetarian movement can relate to this. No, tofu does not taste like chicken, so don’t tell me it does. Use available ingredients to make something delicious that stands on its own without having to be compared to a dish from yesteryears and yestercountries.

Second, ill-fated meals often become the most memorable. We can look back and laugh at the comedy of this event and the perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. At the time, we were not laughing. There were probably some unkind words spoken, considering we all just wanted to get some rest and start a new day. But now when my fish bake is overcooked and mushy (nasty!), I can laugh about it and regret just the foul flavor, not also a foul attitude.

And the third lesson is for parents of children in boarding school who may have traveled many miles and perhaps even days to get home: Hold your horses and let the kids get some rest so they can give the proper attention to a meal they’ve waited months to eat.

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Heidi and her husband, now with their own SLs, travel the world together.  Periodically they live awhile in one place before moving on.  Read about it all at willtravelwithkids.

Someone’s Hometown

Someone’s Hometown

A Lesson In Joy

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.
Yes, your joy will overflow! — Jesus to his disciples
John 15:11

My Spoon Lickers grew up in Africa. But they left there and began to establish themselves in the U.S. once they graduated from high school. One of them, dismayed and bewildered in the university environment, cried, “No one knows me. No one here has any comprehension of my past. I feel like the real me is a total stranger here.” He had many friends, an active social life. Yet, his life lacked a friend with a shared history.

We crave the society of those with whom we have a history. To know, and to be known, is human. Knowing and being known is an activity of the soul, part of God’s image stamped on us.

This is brought home to me as I meditate on Jesus’ words recorded in John’s gospel, chapters 14 – 17. Knowing and being known is a characteristic of the Godhead. What a privilege to listen in to Jesus as He talks to His Father (chapter 17)! There is a transforming truth here and I’ve tried to memorize it to facilitate my meditations but there is so much of “what’s yours is mine, and mine is yours, and they are yours, so they are mine …” that I can never get all the words perfectly straight! That is reason enough to ponder deeply.

Just think. God the Father and God the Son share the same story, the same history. There is a profound “knowing” between the One that is beyond words. We can not comprehend such eternal shared history, eternal fellowship and oneness. The Godhead, within His nature, is fully known, and knows fully. Now here is where our joy bursts forth. Jesus says to his disciples:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

And in His prayer to the Father:

“These things I speak in the world, that they [those who love me] may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

His joy is the Father’s joy. The Father’s joy is His. He is in us, us in Him. We share the perfect joy that is also His. This joy is mine. God, by His Spirit, has given it to me and will never take it away. I rest in it. This joy that comes when the Joymaker has made His home with me – this joy that is the response of a soul that is known by God – this joy frees me to know the joy of others.

Some of us live in a faraway, foreign place, where we are not really known by anyone, nor do we really know anyone. The gifts and blessings that are normally associated with joy are few and far between. Excluded from shared history with the locals, we can be included in God’s forever story. Our gift of joy is to know and be known by the Author of Knowing.

Thus, our hearts respond joyfully to the temporal gifts received by those around us. We may not be blessed with that particular gift, but we have a joy unspeakable and full of glory, that will never end. We are not missing out. Our joy is full.

Galatians 5:22; John 14:23; Romans 12:15

Someone’s Hometown

A car passes by my house and I think
“To someone inside, these streets are familiar.
This is their hometown.”

Young students laugh and call to each other in the street, and I think
“They’ve been laughing with these same friends, in this same place, all their lives.”
This is their hometown.

They’re firing up the grill across the fence. Any minute the kids will arrive –
They don’t have far to come.
This is their hometown.

People next door, in the shops, on the streets, regard this place as home.
It’s where they return to when they’re all done going.
It’s where they have friends, family, school, work, church –                                                       It’s where they tell jokes their friends get, tell stories their brothers remember;
It’s where they have history.

When I ponder this, Rundu and it’s people seem a little less foreign,
a little less threatening,
a little less intimidating,
a little familiar somehow,
Because, though it will never be mine,
It is someone’s dear hometown.

Created for Place

Created for Place

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
Genesis 2:8

Upon arriving at a new home, whether it’s a home for a week, hotel room for a weekend or home for the foreseeable future, the first thing I do is search for a corner that will be my place. I scurry from one spot to another, trying out the leg room, the lighting, the “feel” of it. On this piece of floor, against this spot of wall, I will sip my coffee each morning (procuring the coffee is sometimes a bit of a concern!), read my Bible, tell my heart to be quiet, listen to my heavenly Father and, yes, even daydream. Like an African mama, I stretch my legs straight out in front of me and lean against my spot of wall. Later in the day I may rest myself there with a novel, or a bit of crocheting. There isn’t always an extra bedroom, office space, desk, or even a cozy chair in the house/hotel/transit lounge where I find myself. But there has always been a floor and a wall rising from it at (usually) a 90 degree angle. It isn’t home; but it’s a place He has suited to me. It is from this spot, this tiny little place-of-mine, that I come to grips with the environment beyond my feet.

How am I to think about this strong desire and need for a “spot”? Who’s going to explain myself to me? The professional who just wrote a book about missionary issues? A therapist who designs his method of soul care around new studies? I think not. God, my Creator, explains me to myself very adequately within the first pages of His word, the Bible. In fact, the only pure and complete source of everything God wants me to know about Himself and about my soul is in the Bible. God has given to us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which can be found in every verse between and including Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see and ears to hear. This being the case, let’s look at the first pages of Genesis with the conviction that God wants to, and will, bring truth to anything we need to understand about our need for place.

God starts right out informing us of His daily activities that resulted, after six days, in an entire Earth suitable for human habitation. Imagine that! He was preparing a place for us, thinking about us and our needs and the desires he would delight to plant within us (according to His own likeness) – all before we even existed! What love! What foreknowledge! What infinite, meticulous planning! Then, he breathed life into His masterpiece creation, Adam and his excellent helper, Eve. He gave them Earth! He essentially offered them the world! I’d say their domain took in quite a bit of territory, wouldn’t you?

But wait! God shares with us in more detail. (Remember, He wants us to know what He is like, His character, and the nature of humans.) God planted a garden, a real place, in a real location, in real time. A place that occupied a small spot on the expanse of perfect planet. He purposefully, deliberately placed His two first people in that one, relatively small spot. This would be their place. And He said it was good.

My dear missionary colleague, precious TCK, wandering Christian, we, too, were created to occupy a material, tangible location. God created the desire in you and me, as well as the capacity to thrive in a place. Because of the historically recent fascination with human behavior and emotion, there are a lot of voices out there saying that this is a new truth, and they have new ways to help you in your pain and struggle with displacement. Please do not let these “professional helpers” distract you from the truth that never changes: To be in a place is the nature of His image, stamped on your soul. It is good. Don’t let an idolatrous insistence on being or feeling at home rob you of the joy He gives in a “lesser place”.

Thank the Creator for the piece of earth where you stand; abide in Him, feast on His word. He alone will sustain you in this place He has provided for you.

Thank you, my Father, for this spacious length of tiled floor and sturdy, concrete wall rising straight up from it. Thank you for “my spot” where I meet you and where my soul thrives. Thank you for lovingly fashioning me to thrive in a physical place.

Genesis 1 and 2; 2Peter 1:3-4; Psalm 119:128; Psalm 33:15

Everything is Enough

A warm hello to all of you who share my same faith in God our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a feast set before us; a feast of grace and peace for our soul, heaped up, overflowing and never running out! The bowl is never empty! Let’s savor a lick from the spoon scooped out from the bowl of II Peter.

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”…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us…”  [The … means that you really need to dig into all that comes before and after this small lick.]

All things.   Life.    And godliness. That about covers it.  Sweeping. Broad. It leaves out nothing that is of enduring significance either for this life, or the next.

Life. My circumstances, situation, the conditions in which I live, move and function. Life. The way my mind thinks about my situation; my soul’s response to circumstances.

Godliness. A particular response of the soul wherein God makes me to be at peace with Him, with others and with my own conscience. Godliness. Understanding and interpreting life from the vantage point of faith in Christ and all He has promised me here, and forever.

Dear reader, let this truth settle into your mind and heart. God’s divine power has [already] provided for you everything that you need to live in your present situation. He has already given you all that your soul requires to be at peace, to act wisely and to escape being wounded in spirit by the corruptness that is all around.

How is this wondrous, blessed condition brought about? God has already made the Way for you to know Him. Twice it is written here. The grace, this peace, is in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. It is through the knowledge of Him that we lay claim to the feast for the soul. The soul’s resource is in knowing Jesus. Period. It is that simple. This life-giving knowledge of Jesus is revealed in God’s word, the Bible. Only. Exclusively.

I wonder if the apostle Peter wouldn’t say something like this: God’s divine power has given me everything I need to cope with persecution as I get to know the crucified and risen Christ better and better.

A refugee fleeing for her life, physically, can say, “God’s divine power has given me everything I need to encourage my soul and not succumb to hate or despair as I learn more and more about Jesus from the Bible, and believe everything it says about Him. A U.N. camp can not offer my soul any remedy that the Holy Spirit does not already offer, through the Word.”

One soldier survived when all the others were killed by a roadside bomb. If that dear one has his faith in the Lord Jesus, he already has all he needs to heal his soul and mind of the trauma. Healing, comfort, hope and a future is granted to him through the knowledge of Christ and His promises.

King David, the first disciples, the ancient Christians, those Christ-followers down through the ages all knew something we seem to have forgotten in these recent decades. Many have become absorbed and fascinated with the human idea that we can study and understand the soul apart from the Creator and Designer of it. What’s more, we are being told that God’s word is not sufficient to meet the real, deep needs of the soul. The knowledge of Christ, as He is revealed in the Bible, is supposedly shamefully simplistic and irrelevant to the deeper, larger issues that humans face today. Heart and soul conditions have been renamed with labels we don’t find in Scripture. These labels may help us categorise human behavior but they tend to send us in the wrong direction for wisdom and help in need. Human philosophies of the soul undermine our confidence in God’s word as the sufficient and authoritative, first and last word on the soul.

I can testify with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before me that, indeed, God’s divine power has provided me with every encouragement, exhortation, every teaching and all nourishment that is necessary to my soul; this soul that lives in a foreign culture, this soul that yearns for a home, this soul that is tempted to think of myself more highly than I ought, to replaying horrific conversations, and, this soul that is hungry for God. Feasting on Christ, to know Him as He is made known in God’s word, always has been, and is, complete and sufficient nourishment for this, my soul.

One of my Spoon Lickers, a TCK (third culture kid = one who’s parents raised him in a culture that was not their own, a new culture to the whole family) recently told me that the most important thing he learned growing up in our home was that “God’s word is enough.” He has obtained faith, the Holy Spirit lives in him. He has a Bible. Therefore, he is confident that he has everything he needs for his soul to really and truly live, anytime, anywhere, in any situation.

Do you believe that the knowledge of Christ is sufficient to address your circumstances, the issues of your soul? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s word, given to be our sole source of this knowledge? How would your life change if you really did believe this? What changes would you make in your reading material, your online searches, the people you talk to about your problems? What changes might your children see in you?

You can give your children nothing more valuable than a steadfast confidence in God’s Word as the one and only, the totally sufficient resource that trains the soul to truly live.

II Peter; Colossians 2:8; Ps. 119; Hebrews 1