Sunday, July 25, 2010

Poor in Spirit

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,"

God's Kingdom is so backwards, and I confess that I don't understand it, Him, me or the world very well from His perspective. This last summer the discipleship school started, and I had the honor of teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. It opened a whole new world for me into the mind of God who calls us away from well-intentioned but useless works under the law and into rest in His grace as we're called to do the impossible of loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, not judging, and radical trust in God. It all made sense for a very short time and I felt more peace even in the midst of the pre-team storms than I have felt in my life I think.

Then somewhere this Summer I took my eyes off the Savior and set them on men and all that peace fell apart. I could tell you all kinds of things that I've seen God do this Summer in and through the teams... I've seen God heal miraculously, seen deaf ears opened, pains disappear, heard of backs being straightened, lives changed and spiritual eyes opened. I remember a friend saying once though that physical healing is nothing compared to the miracle of transformation of hearts. And right now I feel like there is something going on in my heart that I can only pray that will bear good fruit eventually. I have seen things in my heart in the past few weeks that make me despair of myself and cry out "wretched woman that I am... who will save me from this body of sin and death?" You'd think that with all else that I've seen God do, there'd be hope still in my heart, but hope feels like it's a million miles away and we are to walk there, crippled and vehicle-less.

Paul says in Romans that he knows that "nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh." Nothing good. Nothing. How often I thought that I had something to hold onto. Something to claim as my own; i.e. "I am honest, I don't cheat on taxes, I have integrity, I am not jealous, I would never commit adultery, I am responsible, I am kind, I am a servant etc. etc." We are hurt by others, see others' flaws, examine ourselves and find ourselves "clean" in those areas, and end up feeling that we have something to hold onto. Others build us up with encouraging words of what good qualities they've seen in us...which if we don't realize the truth of what Paul says, can easily and subtly turn into pride. And we all know that pride comes before a fall, and I have fallen and feel that I can't see how to get back up. All the faulty characteristics of people that I have judged at one point or another of my life have been unveiled in my own heart and I despair. Adultery (isn't that what God calls idolatry?), jealousy (the same kind that made me withdraw from the church I was attending before), pride, deception (it's amazing how we can speak "truth" to our own hearts and still skirt around the elephant in the room)... they're all there. The very things that I've said that I'd never do, that I abhor, that I don't understand at all - they're all in me. Every last one of them.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" says Jeremiah. And he's right. Jesus says to the church in Laodicea concerning their hearts " you say I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." Now if you're wondering what terrible sin I've fallen into, let me put your minds at peace. The only sin apart from stupid things that I've said about people and to people has been revealed in my heart. But according to the Sermon on the Mount, what is in our hearts is just as important to God as what we do. Just as important. We don't understand that very well when we try to justify ourselves with the "but I've nevers...," and "how could hes...?" that come out of our own hypocritical mouths.

So I feel naked, stripped of all good that I thought was my own. Which is good. "Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit." I feel like I'm dying to all that I thought I was. Which is also good. But I've lost a good friend, which I would do almost anything to reverse, but I can't and I don't know where to go from here. In need of a Savior? Yes. Desperately. But when you've been "saved" almost your whole life, you've dealt with issue after issue and faced demon after demon in you... and then you realize that YOU are the biggest problem... I despair. I know that Christ's atoning work on the cross and His redemption are the only things in which we have any hope - but I thought I knew that before and feel like I don't know how to get there. I feel like all my life I thought I was living in, let's say the USA, land of the free and home of the brave, then I found out that it was all a big joke (did you ever watch the Trueman Show?) and now I have no idea how to get to the place that I know really is home. And to be very honest, part of me doesn't want to leave this place because what if I fall away again from this unsparing realization into thinking again that I have something apart from Christ, and I hurt more people?

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." The first part of that seems very real to me - I have nothing good in myself to offer. But the second part seems like a Divine joke. So here I am in Peru. Maybe you can pray for me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

relative comfort

I am too comfortable.

I walk into a grocery store and I can buy all the food that I've been wishing I had for the last four months. And for the eight months before that. It's too much.

I am sleeping in a cushy, full-size bed. Pillow top mattress. Pillows. No mosquito net. This is a long call from a thin airmattress on wooden boards, no pillow and a jaguar-proof mosquito net.

There is hot water at my beck and call, it even comes out of a spout that is OVER my head, and I don't have to pour it over myself with a cup. Out of a bucket. With water in it that hasn't been heated.

I can drink half a glass of water, then dump the rest down the drain. Not pour it back into the wash bucket to conserve water, 'cause it hasn't rained in a while. I can even drink the water out of the faucet. No boiling, no buying, no treating. All the water is drinkable. All of it. And dumpable. All of it.

The room in which I sleep is quiet. Real quiet. No roosters crowing. No bats fluttering around. No motocars straining to get up the hill outside the house, no rocks falling on the roof, no dogs barking, no cats fighting, no kids yelling and knocking on the door.

I am not sweating.

The woods outside smell like woods, leafy, pungent and clean. Not like breeding grounds for parasites, bacteria, spiders, snakes, and a trillion other insects that want to suck your blood.

People are wearing new clothes, clean clothes, and wearing shoes that look like they cost more than 5 soles. Or $1.88. Shoot they probably cost more than 150 soles. Or $53. They are driving cars with the windows rolled up and drinking coffee at the same time.

Last night I was driving the Big Black Truck that AIM is letting me use while I'm here. I think it's a Ford and I sit higher than almost all the SUV's on the road out there with me. The Truck has heat, air conditioning, a radio, power steering and probably sucks more gas than any other vehicle I've had in my life. Driving home at night, for the first time driving in almost a year, and there were few other vehicles on the road, the air coming in the vent was leafy and sweet, reminding me of bonfires, hikes, tricker-treating, and the-life-I-had-before. And I liked it. But not enough to even want to stay.

I feel oddly isolated. A bit too pristine. And out of place. Praise God Jesus is here and is the same yesterday, today, forever, in both North and South America and all around the world.

I miss the rotating door, the constant cumbia music, the walk to the market in the morning. I miss seeing people when I walk out of the door, neighbors and people going to and from work, miss speaking Spanish and miss knowing I'm where I'm supposed to be. Though for now, here is where I'm supposed to be. So I'll do my best to be here... but not get too comfortable.


First day back is always hard... it's amazing how much better I feel today. Probably has something to do with Jesus. It usually does.

Isaiah 55:1-3
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Happy Friday. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


There's something about feeling useless that I don't like.

Like last week when I was laid out with something that woke me in the middle of the night with a shaking fever, then a rotten headache all day where all my body wanted to do was sleep... and I would have been fine with that, except there were people in the house that I wanted to see and there's very little worse to me than lieing there knowing that someone else (hat would be Anita, a pastor's daughter from upriver who came to visit for 4 days) is washing my clothes, my dishes and that there are youth meetings happening that I really want to be a part of but my stupid body just won't cooperate. So I laid there in my bed, tired of resting (good thing I don't get sick often, I'd be miserable to be around I'm sure) and feeling absolutely useless. My friend Cesar says that this is good (I think I've told others this before too) because in truth we are useless and entirely dependent on God and we are closer to Him when we are able to realize this truth. But the truth of this wasn't sinking into my heart... I didn't feel closer to God, just useless.

Another thing that I don't like is feeling alone when there's a bunch of people around... I think that in Peru I had forgotten what that felt like for a while since God sent Chris in January - a good friend a great listener. And to be honest, feeling alone with others around makes me feel useless (chances are my identity is too caught up in what I DO, but what to DO about that? :))... and so here back in the states, day one, I'm back to square one where I was one week ago in my bed in Nauta, but without the good excuse of being sick. Soooo... what am I to learn from this? Maybe it's just re-entry blues that will go away in a few days, or maybe it's an identity issue... or maybe I just haven't gotten enough sleep in the last week to process anything. My comfort is to know that God is God and that He is good - here, there, and even in Haiti right now. Lord have mercy and save us from ourselves. I love that when Jesus left, He left His peace with us which passes all understanding, all circumstances and even our own ridiculous flesh. Grace to you all.