Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reflections on battle

"Tenacity is more than hanging on,
which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.
Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe
that his hero is going to be conquered.
Remain spiritually tenacious."

Oswald Chambers

I was reflecting the other day about this last year and the many many challenges we went through, and are still going through. I've never seen a year like this....tons of sickness in our family and on the YWAM base, lots of 'pastoral care' issues that needed hours of conflict management and counseling, and then, of course, the BIG THEFT that blasted our world and kept knocking us with all the aftershocks.

We, as a base, never really had time between blows to get back on our feet and resume fighting stance. It was more like we would begin to push ourselves up, and just when we were straightening our legs and lifting our heads, we'd get another right hook to the jaw that would knock us back into the ropes again. And again. And then again.

So many times this year I've thought, "What the heck is going on?! This is crazy! This is too much!" and the inevitable, "God, what are you thinking?"

I wish I could say I handled it all like Moses who "never wavered through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." No, I'm afraid I wavered. And ranted. And raved. And indulged in a few pity parties along the way.

Yet somehow my faith has grown and deepened through it all, even though we never found the thief, even though we're still bruised and a little sore emotionally, even though we're still quite tired and wrung out.

I read back over some of my journal entries from earlier this year, in the weeks preceding the theft, and I discovered how God had tried to warn me and prepare me for the coming trials. On the 13th of June, during one of my quiet times, I felt God saying, "Things are changing. Be ready. Be alert. Stay very very close to me. The battle is heating up, and your shield of faith must be high and strong. Your faith will be tested like never before. Remember I am with not be afraid."

Exactly 2 weeks later the thief struck.

The following days and weeks were hard. I was up and down, up and down. One minute praising God and believing with all my heart that He would show His power, raise His mighty right hand and save the day. The next minute asking Jesus, "Where are you? Are you praying for me that my faith will not fail? 'Cuz if so, You need to pray harder. It's hanging by a tenuous little frayed thread and feels like it could snap at any minute."

It was tough.

But here we are, 3 months later, preparing to host a Leadership Development Course, and I'm rereading a journal entry from the 9th of July where I quoted:

"We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized;
we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do;
we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side;
we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken.
So we're not giving up. How could we!
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us,
on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times,
the lavish celebration prepared for us.
There's far more here than meets the eye.
The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.
But the things we can't see now will last forever."
2 Cor 4 The Message

So...tenacity. Not just hanging in there, according to Mr. Chambers. But refusing to believe that my hero is going to be conquered...refusing to give up hope in the knowledge that Jesus has already won the battle, and He's on my side.

I like what Beth Moore said about William Carey...after listing all the troubles and loss he endured as a missionary in India, Beth said, "William Carey became the devil's nightmare. Every time Satan knocked him down, the man of God stood back to his feet again, more determined than ever."

We've been knocked down so many times this year, it was tempting to crawl over to the corner and nurse our wounds, or even slither under the ropes and get out of the ring. But God's grace each and every day has been enough to keep us fighting the good fight, refusing to give in and give up, because we know that our Saviour WILL one day come riding up on His white horse to save the day.

In the meantime, He fights each and every battle with us. He never leaves us alone.

No matter how hard it gets, Jesus is my hero, and I will never let go of Him.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An African parable about Belonging

This is the story of Mr. Bat

Once upon a time, in the Animal Kingdom, a new law was passed requiring all animals to pay tax. Mr. Zebra, the newly-appointed tax collector, went from animal to animal to collect the tax.

When Mr. Zebra reached Mr. Bat's tree, he said, "Mr. Bat, I have come to collect your tax."

Mr. Bat flew down from the top of the tree and landed on a lower branch. Then Mr. Bat stretched out his hand to display the webbing connecting his arm to his body.

"I am not an animal," said Mr. Bat proudly, and he flapped his arms and flew up a few feet in front of Mr. Zebra. "Have you ever seen an animal with wings that can fly like this? I will not pay your tax because I do not belong to the Animal Kingdom."

Mr. Bat flew back up to the top of tree and left Mr. Zebra to carry on his way.

Some time later, a similar law was passed in the Bird Kingdom requiring all birds to pay tax. Mr. Owl, the newly-appointed tax collector, went from bird to bird to collect the tax.

When Mr. Owl reached Mr. Bat's tree, he flew up onto a branch at the top of the tree near Mr. Bat. "Mr. Bat," he said, "I have come to collect your tax."

Mr. Bat looked at Mr. Owl, and then he opened his mouth wide and bared his fangs. "I am not a bird," said Mr. Bat proudly. "Have you ever seen a bird with fangs like this? I will not pay your tax because I do not belong to the Bird Kingdom."

Mr. Bat then ignored Mr. Owl until Mr. Owl flew off to visit the rest of the birds on his list.

One day, Mr. Bat got sick and fell to the ground at the foot of his tree. No animal came by to visit Mr. Bat. No bird came by to visit Mr. Bat. That night, Mr. Bat died alone on the cold, hard ground.

The next day, Mr. Fox was passing by and discovered Mr. Bat's body. He ran to the birds to tell them about Mr. Bat's death.

"You better come and bury your friend," said Mr. Fox to the birds. "He has died and his body is just laying on the ground near his tree."

"He is not our friend," said the birds to Mr. Fox. "And he is not even a bird. Have you ever seen a bird with fangs like his? We will not bury him because he does not belong to the Bird Kingdom. You better bury him."

"We cannot bury him," said Mr. Fox. "He does not belong to the Animal Kingdom. Have you ever seen an animal that can fly like him?"

Neither the animals nor the birds took responsibility for Mr. Bat. And so, Mr. Bat's body was left to rot at the foot of the tree.

The End

Moral of the story: It is better to belong and contribute to the group, than stay apart and suffer alone.

In Africa, I have seen this communal spirit played out over and over. When someone is getting married, everyone in the community pitches in with whatever they have to see the wedding come to pass successfully. When someone dies, everyone in the community pitches in with whatever they have to pay the costs of burying the person. If you don't contribute to someone else's need, no matter how little you have, you will also be shunned when your time of need comes.

The "Mr. Bat attitude" has no place in Africa.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken Pecks

Right in the middle of our holiday (vacation) in Mombasa, Noah came down with Chicken Pox.


After a few nerve-shredding days of Noah crying and wailing in frustration, pain and itchiness, we discovered oatmeal baths, and everything changed. Whatever is in that oatmeal, it really works.

I would set up the portable DVD player, and Noah would soak in the bath washing with the oatmeal in a sock. Kezi and Aidan would keep Noah company and watch the video with him.

Soon Noah started healing up, and we managed to enjoy the last few days of our break.

Now, 2 weeks later, Aidan has come down with the virus. This morning he said it must have originally been called Chicken Pecks because it feels like a chicken is pecking his skin.

We're still in the throes of the nerve-shredding crying and wailing, but I'm thinking tomorrow we'll get the break through.

Not looking forward to the Little Princess Drama Queen getting hers, though.

FYI...if one of your kids get the dreaded Pox, try the oatmeal's the only thing that really helped mine.