Monday, March 22, 2010

Peace in the face of death...

In the past two days I have been overwhelmed at the prospect of death and the peace that ONLY Jesus brings.
George rode 83 miles on his bike less than a year ago on his 83 birthday. Today, he has a hard time keeping track of time due to a brain tumor that has ravaged his body. Yesterday, George described to me what it was like to have a helmet on your head as radiation pumped mercilessly in. "I laid there asking Jesus, who can I bless? Who do you need me to forgive? What do you want me to do?" Tears sprung to both our eyes as he shared, with joy on his face the testimony he has been to the doctors and nurses that have treated him. "Everyone deserves to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." In the face of death, George smiles... neither afraid to die nor anxious of the life he lived.
Ann-Brit, his beloved wife is a testimony to me of a woman who will serve her husband at any and all costs. "Through all these years we have so enjoyed a closeness that has come with both having the same passion for the Lord and people and love of life .... I had a wish list of what I wanted my husband to be like .... George has so exceeded that list." After 24 years of marriage, the love between them is so apparent. George leaned in real close to give me the secret to marital bliss... "Now here's what you gotta do. When you wake up in the morning and his hair is all messy and his eyes are half open, you gotta say, 'WOW! I am so lucky to have a husband like you! Today is sure to be a great day!"
This is the life they lived, in love, laughter and the Lord. As they talk about George's illness and the possibilities of things to come, you see a peace come over them. There is no sense of anxiety or nervousness, only the peace that passes all understanding and the joy that one day they will spend eternity together, as best friends in the arms of the Father.
Today, my parents' friend shared with us the loss of his 7 and a half month old unborn son. I was surprised at the calm way he described laying the small coffin in the ground. "I knew that this was just a body in a box. I knew that he was with the Lord. So I told the Lord, I want you to be glorified!" As he stood over this small hole, he bowed his head to pray with his wife's family who are not believers. He grinned widely as he said, "The Spirit of the Lord came over me. I don't even remember half the things I said... but Scripture has never poured out of me like that!" As he finished, a peace came over him and it was known by all those watching. His brother-in-law commented that he had never seen anyone pray like that before.
Peace that passes ALL understanding... Oh death, where is thy sting??

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rantings of a jetlagged lunatic at 4 in the morning...

Well, jet lag is about to kill me. I guess it's my own fault since I took a 3 hour nap yesterday. Oops. I decided that this was the best time to start telling stories about what God did in Asia. For those of you who didn't know, I have been in Asia for the past 2 and a half weeks and during that time, Jesus began to heal me.
For the first week, Allison, my parents and myself taught a group of pastors, singles and widows. If I'm going to be honest, I was not really looking forward to this trip. I had been traveling, living out of a suitcase and generally being out of place for the past several months and adding one more trip, with more living out of suitcases and jet lag didn't sound good. I had planned the trip 6 months ago, so it was a little late to back out now. But can I tell you that Jesus just knows. His timing is not delayed nor is it out of place. It comes at just the right time, when you need it the most. During that time, I saw 4 singles ladies, ranging from age 19 to 51, open up their hearts and share their struggles.
Dorcus, 19 years old, was by far the shyest, and getting her to talk was like force feeding a 2 year old. But we just keep encouraging her, asking her questions and loving on her. When the time came for her to share the things she was struggling with in ministry, it was as if the floodgates had been opened. "I'm only 19 years old, I have no experience, most people don't want to listen to me. I feel discouraged. How do I get people to respect me? My parents are both sick, how can I provide for them? My father isn't a believer, how can I help?" As I heard her pour out her heart, my heart broke for her. How do I even begin to answer these questions? Anything I said, any explanation I gave seemed inadequate. But she didn't need my words, she needed to be heard... to know that Jesus had no forgotten her, that her cries had not fallen on deaf ears. So that's what we did, we encouraged her with the truth and listened to hear heart's cry.
Dorcus is just one or many women that are living in a difficult situation; wondering how to get respect, how to provide for their needs and those around them, how to truly teach the youth of today, and a cascade of other problems and questions. These women inspired me. They reminded me that its not about me, my problems or my issues, but its about Jesus and what he can do with nothing.
I don't know how to explain to you what happened next, but the Lord did something in me. I haven't been able to sit in one place or call anything "mine," so I haven't really been dealing very well with reverse culture shock. I've been crabby, angry, sad, miserable, you name it... but through this trip, the Lord revealed to me my immense inadequacy, and his continual adequacy in every and any situation.
He has flooded my heart with his truth and has begun to heal my heart from the loss that I felt leaving Ecuador. Even at 4 in the morning, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, "Your GRACE is enough for me!"