Thursday, December 22, 2016

The story

Where does the story begin? Obviously, it begins long before our lives began, with the Creator of the universe, the Good Father Who knew us before we were born (Psalm 139) and has shaped our entire lives. On that note, it is worth examining the opening chapter of the book.

1976-1990ish

Seth grew up near Taos; his dad built the family home at the end of a dirt road - a house with only solar electricity and no telephone. He was homeschooled until 2nd grade, then finished elementary in tiny Tres Piedras. 

Meanwhile, Rebecca lived at the end of a different dirt road, also with no phone. Electricity, yes, but limited running water. She went to public school through 2nd grade, then was homeschooled. 

Their lives took distinct paths during teen and early adult years, but one has to see the hand of God in the simple, family centered, country beginnings that shaped the small children.

Now let us fast forward to the current chapter of life.

Thanksgiving, 2015

Rebecca had spent Thanksgiving Day with the Fuchs family. As always it was filled with laughter and a hard time from the teenage sons. Tyrel, the youngest, was on a mission to “find a husband” for her. He sat in front of the fireplace asking questions, finally handing her his phone. “Here, I made you a Farmer’s Only account.”

She blushed and smiled and he took the phone back, flipping through profiles. They laughed as they found people the family knew and better prospects they did not know. Tyrel insisted on sending “flirts.” “I’m going to get you a husband for Christmas.” 

“Yes, but you have to pay for it!!!!”

“No, I’m not going to do that.”

After she got home that night, and for the next day or two, she mulled over the idea of internet dating. Rebecca had realized in the past year that she wasn’t as “emotionally strong” as everyone thought, realized that the desire of her heart for a home and marriage has not changed, and realized that in the Bible, people often took action: Abraham didn’t lament the lack of godly wives for Isaac - rather he sent his servant to fetch one. 

She called her dad and laughingly told him of their Thanksgiving pastime. Due to some amazing testimonies of online romance that he had witnessed, he laughed with her and added, “Well, do you want me to pay for it?”

After she hung up, she reacted. “I’ll pay for it myself!” And she did. After a few discouraging days on Farmers Only (it’s amazing how much conceit can manifest in a paragraph), she decided to go all out and see if Christian Mingle had more options.

----

Christmas was coming, and Tyrel wasn’t done. He found a book online called How to Get Married After 35. Unable to convince his mom to buy it as a Christmas present, they sat and read the free parts with Rebecca. She couldn’t convince herself to spend 30-40% of her budget on the online pastime, but she had to concede the point that one had to marry a human, not “perfection.”

The days and weeks and profiles on Farmers Only and Christian Mingle were interesting. She emailed several guys, from a cowboy in the Dakotas to a missionary candidate in a city in Canada. Many were nice and some were serious (while some were quite obnoxious). It was kind of discouraging, though - no one quite fit. As she tried to imagine one coming into her life, the picture didn’t work.

January, 2016

Meanwhile, sweet Ms. Ruth at church came to Rebecca. “I am praying some Scriptures for you, but I want to ask you. Do you want to get married? Or is it like that one verse, ‘I would not have you ignorant brethren’?”

Rebecca laughed and said she did want to get married.

Ms. Ruth gave her Psalm 84:11b and Genesis 2:18. No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly... It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him.

Rebecca wondered if she was being too picky, but the process really wasn’t that much fun anymore. By mid-January, she had decided that as soon as her subscriptions to the websites expired, she was done. One day she saw that a “country-looking” man had viewed her Christian Mingle profile. She clicked, and she liked what she saw, but she had a couple of reservations. She starred the profile to go back and look at later. The website says those stars are not visible to the person with the profile, but the mobile app has a glitch, and the stars show....

-----

Seth had viewed Rebecca’s profile. He had liked much of what he had seen, but certain things worried him due to past experiences. He moved on.

But then Rebecca starred his profile. He had to think about it. He wondered if it was of God. He went back.

So a couple of days after the first view he sent a “smile,” a simple little message that could be sent for free, just to see what happened.

----

Rebecca got the smile, and she had to admit she was excited. She answered. And waited. For almost a week, she got no response - which was OK, her subscription expired on Friday anyway. 

On Thursday night she received a long, cheery email - from the mobile app, meaning someone had taken the time to type correctly on a phone. She was impressed and excited. They emailed almost every day for the next month (she renewed the subscription). She “listened” as this man prayed through a job change and move, saw his love for his family and his careful thought in decisions.

Finally, a month later, he told her she could call him. NOOOOOOOO! That was a scary thought. She texted him (she feared that emailing her number would cause him to think it was a “DO NOT CALL” farce because of all the 0s) and told him he could call her. He texted her back, but he didn’t call for 3 days (during which time, she told her dad about him. Dad’s response? “A diesel mechanic is way handier than a cowboy!”) And the first night, when Seth called, sensible Rebecca was giddy. They talked for over an hour, texted for a couple of days, called again. By the middle of March, they talked on the phone every night.

Rebecca was impatient. Once Seth was all moved to Colorado, it was her opinion that he ought to go ahead and come meet her. But he didn’t come. They discussed visiting one another and doing things together, but he didn’t come. 

“Well, he’s not 40 years old and unmarried because he’s spontaneous,” Dianne Fuchs reminded her when they discussed the matter. And the time was good. Long phone conversations covered some of most all of everything under the sun.

Early in May, Seth broached the subject. “I reckon I ought to come see you.”

They planned a weekend. A few days later, Rebecca found out it was the weekend of the spring when the Fuchs really needed help. It was the day to AI (artificially inseminate) the cows, and her cows were running in their herd. She asked Seth if it would be OK. He was excited to work cows.

May 13, 2016

She worked all week, and on Friday after school, she went to help the Fuchs gather, while Seth left work in Colorado for the 6 hour drive south. After gathering, they had to make lunch for the following day, and straighten things up. By 9:00, the Fuchs were exhausted and ready for bed. Rebecca was tired, too, but the kitchen needed cleaned and Seth wouldn’t be there until 11.

She talked on the phone to her friend Jen. “Are you excited?” Jen asked.

 “Yes....”

 “Did you do your makeup? What are you wearing?” 

“I don’t have any makeup with me. I put it on this morning. I’m wearing my jeans and t-shirt from school, and I’m kind of dirty because it was windy this evening. He’s not going to fall in love with me for my looks anyway.”

Jen was worried. Rebecca had too much going to be worried.

At long last, Seth drove up. It was late and dark and both were tired when he stepped out of his pickup, but it was like greeting an old friend. He gave her a hug, she showed him to his room next door to the Fuchs’ house, and she went home to sleep.

It took Seth a while to wind down and the 5:00 a.m. alarm did NOT make his day. For a few minutes, he thought the whole plan was ridiculous, but he went out anyway to meet the strangers with whom he was staying, and after he was fed and given a cup of coffee, he brightened up - enough to very pleasantly say good morning to Rebecca, who was saddling his horse. 

The day was not the most beautiful for cow work. The morning was cold and wet, unusual for May, and AI-ing cattle is not the most exciting of work, but Seth made an impression. He stayed on his horse without a wreck, got out of the way without being told, stepped in where he could help, and even his lack of sleep didn’t make him cranky. Rebecca’s only wish is that she had saved the snapchats taken as they stood around and watched the cows go by.

Finishing at a reasonable time, the day warmed slightly and it was time for a date. At this point, Rebecca was wondering if Seth actually “liked” her, or was just being polite because he had driven a long way and was making the best of the trip. The afternoon proved that the warm friendship, built through hours of communication ,was grounds for romance. They drove and hiked to the springs, fixed dinner, sat and talked.... Church and lunch and a walk the next day, and it was hard to part.

So went the summer. Rebecca’s sister-in-law was going to Cortez two weeks later, where Rebecca could stay with her great aunt and spend the weekend with Seth, meeting his sister, seeing his apartment, and enjoying some beautiful country. A few weeks more and he was meeting her parents. Everyone was happy and polite, but taking Seth on a tour outside, Dad showed him the backhoe attachment for the skidsteer. “All I’ve used it for is to dig graves....”

They spent the 4th of July in Taos with Seth’s mom and friends. Because Seth had to work late and Rebecca is always lost, thus needing to arrive before dark, she beat him there and had dinner with his mom and step-dad. Neither that, nor anyone she met (no one would tell stories), scared her away. Another weekend in Taos with his family, he came to the county fair, she went to Colorado to visit.

Rebecca was sure by this time. At times, something would make her doubt, some attitude or behavior of Seth’s that she feared would turn negative in the future, then they would talk and he would say, “God is working on _________,” and God did work. 

Seth was sure, too, but he wanted to do it right. They planned her birthday weekend. Thinking only of driving and sleep, she planned to stay at her parents through Sunday. He wanted to be back in Santa Rosa Sunday morning. She didn’t see why it was a big deal, but they changed the plan. 

Seth’s version of Saturday’s events:

I went out with Rebecca’s dad to milk the cow. I waited until Wendell closed the gate, and got down to milking the cow. I made sure the gate was latched securely between the two of us and told him I had something I wanted to ask him. I prepared myself to run for the safety of my pickup, took a deep breath, and let the question fly: May I have your daughter’s hand in marriage? Turns out all my precautions were unnecessary...

Actually, I waited for him to finish milking and wasn’t even scared to ask because I knew in my heart that it was God’s will for us to be married. 

Saturday night Rebecca’s parents had a birthday party for her. Her godchild opened all the presents with her, and aunts, uncles, and friends like family excitedly greeted Seth as they showered Rebecca with love. Seth felt a little bad. He had nothing to give her.


September 4, 2016
Sunday morning, Seth knocked on the door. Rebecca was dressed for church, and he said, “Oh, you have a dress.” 

“We can still go for a walk!”
They walked through the front pasture, laughing at the kitties at their feet, winding up on the rocks overlooking the house. Seth put his arms around her and took her hand, slipping something on her finger. “Will you be my wife?” It was a clear morning, cool but not cold, and they talked on the rocks, continuing over coffee.

It was the best birthday present possible. He had talked to her dad to receive a blessing, planned carefully. He had a card with Scripture from Song of Solomon, for both believed it was of God that she “come away with him.” They planned a December wedding, though it would require her to move mid-year, for neither wanted to continue the driving or the distance. Rebecca’s brother said Seth was just cheap and wanted to combine holidays with wedding expenses. They had known each other 7 months and 1 week. The wedding date would be 11 months and 2 days after that first email.

The ring Seth used was actually the wedding band; he wanted her to choose her own engagement ring, so that Monday they went ring shopping. Rebecca was overwhelmed (partially by the price tags, partially be the sales people). Seth finally was left with the choice, a ring far more beautiful than Rebecca could have chosen herself - just as God had given her a man far better than what she could have asked for herself.

Fall 2016

The next few weeks were exciting; the every other weekend visits continued in Taos, at her parents’ ranch, in Santa Rosa. Seth’s Colorado job situation changed - no fault of his, but his company didn’t have business like they had before. He decided to move, though there were no jobs in Santa Rosa nearly equivalent to what he had there. He found a job and began to pray through the future. Rebecca’s landlords and dear friends gave him a deal on a couple months rent to get him by until the wedding. Being able to see each other daily was a new and growing experience in their relationship.


And here we are. Two backwoods kids, gone from no phone to internet dating and a relationship built on a cell phone. A first date AI-ing cattle, an outdoors wedding in December... and Rebecca is getting a husband for Christmas.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ephesians 6:22-32 Pictures of the Church

Abraham’s son needed a bride.

Isaac couldn’t marry a foreign woman. He and his family didn’t just sit and wait. Abraham sent a man to find the bride. Genesis 24

And so our story began on Christian Mingle. Seth sent on the site to find his bride. Rebecca decided the site might be the servant.

The Son of God chose a bride - a people He would choose out of a sinful world. And He did not wait for them to seek Him. He came to earth to find His bride, and still sends the gospel out for the world to hear. Ephesians 1:4, Romans 5:8

Rebecca saw Seth’s profile, but she wasn’t sure. She marked it, but she wouldn’t contact him.

And so the world hears of Jesus. He sounds good. He is good. But are they really interested? John 12:40

Seth sent her a smile. Rebecca responded with an email. 

So Christ touches the hearts of His people. It may be a sermon. It may be a verse. It may be a kind follower of Jesus, but He reaches out so people will respond to Him. 
I John 4:19

They emailed for a month. He impressed her - long, well-written emails. Could this guy be for real? And then came the phone calls. She learned to appreciate the warmth of his voice and to anticipate the care he extended in conversation.

What happens when we begin to “seek” the Lord because He seeks us first? We hear His Word and we learn. The Spirit touches our hearts and we begin to sense His person, that there is something of Jesus that we want. Luke 24:45, Isaiah 55:1, 3, 5-6

And finally, after months, Seth came. Rebecca was terrified. What if he didn’t like her in person? But he did. From that first meeting, both knew that the relationship had a purpose. 

The fear of the Lord is a good thing. He is holy. And we are sinful. And when we really understand Him, perhaps we fear we are not good enough. Yet He knows us before He loves us, and when we encounter Him, it is for His purposes. Zechariah 3:7, Romans 3:23-26, Ephesians 1:4

After what seemed like long weeks of waiting, on a beautiful morning in God’s beautiful creation, Seth proposed. The next day he left, but he would come again. He left the ring, a seal... and he was going to prepare, for the wedding day was coming.


So our precious Lord, once He has sealed as His own, has gone, but He will come again. He has gone to prepare a place for us, our home in heaven, and what a joyous day when we get to live in His presence forever! I Peter 1:8-9, Ephesians 1:13, John 14:3, Revelation 19:1-10




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Songs, Prayers, and God at Work




I posted those words in a blog post last summer, about forgiveness (they're posted on my wall, too). And I posted the lyrics to “Love’s Not Safe,” my prayer song for relationships.

Little did I know how God would test my statement of faith in His goodness.
---

In January, my prayer song changed. With all of my heart I joined the music:

Make me empty/ So I can be healed...

Make me empty/So I can be filled...

Make me lonely/so I can be Yours...

Til you are my one desire/ Til you are my one true love/
Til you are my breath, my everything/ Lord please keep makin’ me.

(Sidewalk Prophets, Keep Makin’ Me)

Mark 9:43-47, Matthew 15:1
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Mark 2:17

God answers prayers, even when you pray in song. That should scare you.

---

One day, early last spring, my heart broke. I don’t say that sarcastically, nor do I mean it in a Texas style show of compassion. In a situation so complicated only God could unravel it, a crisis so spiritual the world would never even call it a fight, I wound up facing a broken friendship.

It’s not that I didn’t bring it on myself. Sin, even the sin of overvaluing people, has consequences. And God had whispered to me that it was coming, that I needed to turn my own eyes toward the cross, and that truth might have to be spoken.

Relationships are never simple; there’s so much more than what is on the surface. And in the weeks and months to follow, I was to learn that I am not the Healer. I could not fix what was broken.

I grieved: tears and prayers and questions. Never before had I understood what it was to question - not to question God’s existence, but His goodness, His Sovereignty, His love. Why, if He loved me, would He allow me to hurt someone in this way? Why did I hurt? How could He work good?

---

My song changed. It changed more than once in those dark days, and sometimes the songs were the clearest prayer I could express. But God, in His grace, heard the words I couldn’t express (Romans 8:26-27), even giving me the heart to allow Him to change my emotions.

These voices speak instead and what's right is wrong
And I'm giving into them, please Lord, how long
Will I be held captive by the lies that I believe
My heart's in constant chaos and it keeps me so deceived

But if I let these dreams die/If I lay down all my wounded pride
If I let these dreams die/ Will I find that letting go lets me come alive

So empty my hands
Fill up my heart
Capture my mind with You

(Empty My Hands, Sidewalk Prophets)

Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

I could not change those thoughts but God, in His grace, does not hold me as His child because I am good. Even in those gloomy days He knew I would not be made perfect by my flesh, but by His Spirit (Gal. 3:3).

Confession. Patience. Faith - that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose: to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Resting with God in the secret place (Psalm 51:6, 91:1). He healed.

Time. Lots of time. And lots of love from family and friends who tolerated me even when I was less than my best. Because the sting was still there. The wound was especially sensitive as I dealt with people. To express my opinions at church was a battle, to collaborate with my coworkers exhausting, to be slighted by anyone - well, I was sure I had poor communication skills, a bad attitude, and no ability to be a friend.

Mid-June was a turning point. And in September, the dawn cracked ever so slightly. My anthems, my way of preaching the gospel to myself, were again songs...

No matter the bumps/No matter the bruises
No matter the scars/Still the truth is
The cross has made you flawless

No matter the hurt/Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain/Still the truth is
The cross has made you flawless

(Flawless, Mercy Me)

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: I Cor. 1:30

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. I Cor. 5:17

Still, one day in December, the curse of that heartbreak again loomed over my head. A disagreement at church, a conflict over what I thought was a kind deed at school. Tears filled my eyes as I told my friend, “I just can’t do anything right when it comes to dealing with people.”

She looked me in the eye.

“What does the Lord require of you?”

I whispered my response. “To seek justice. To love mercy. To walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8 had been a memory verse for me years ago, and again recently in Sunday School. Suddenly I realized how wrong I’d been to flaunt myself against the gospel.

To seek justice.

Jesus has fulfilled justice. And He had turned my heart to do what was right.

To love mercy.

I had sought reconciliation. Nothing in me was angry. And Jesus offered mercy for my wrongdoing.

To walk humbly with your God.

To walk humbly. Believing God. Trusting that I cannot fix a broken world, a broken relationship, or a broken person, and because I cannot, I need my God.  He is a “Good, Good Father” Who is perfect in all of His ways. We are searching for answers only He provides.


---

I had a few more rough days because life just seemed so far from what it “should be.” (I am sure I will have more.) And then came last week. A situation arose for which many of us had high hopes. It could’ve been a dream come true.

It wasn’t. But I am smiling as I write this, smiling as I have been almost all day almost every day since all the drama closed. Smiling because at last, God has given me my joy back. Not because I “did something.” I didn’t change my habits, or memorize a certain amount of Scripture, or learn to meditate, acquire something to fill the void left by my lost friend, or have a vision or conviction.

No, I am smiling because God’s grace, that mysterious gift I do not deserve, reminds me that I do not need any situation or any person for my joy. My joy is in Jesus. He is enough (Gal. 2:20, James 1:2-4, Rom. 15:13, Heb. 11:1, I Peter 1:8-9).


(Songs continue to minister, but the current words of the gospel speaking to my heart are Isaac Wimberly’s poem, “The Word,” linked below).

http://isaacwimberley.com/all/the-word-lyrics/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqGQEsFlQOk

Thursday, July 16, 2015

On Bless Me, Ultima



I had to read it. It’s about my home, now, about Santa Rosa. And it IS Santa Rosa. Las brujas. The owl. The bridge at Puerto de Luna, the lakes, and the wild men of the llano. It is all so real and there is a reason it is becoming a modern day classic.

I realize that Rudolfo Anaya is a spiritualist. I am not one to make every book into a moralism, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend Ultima if one can’t handle the gruesomeness of sinful humanity. Yet isn’t it the battle of good and evil that makes literature great? And isn’t that the very battle that makes me lift my eyes to heaven?

Antonio is a boy from two worlds, the mother’s farming heritage and the father’s wild cowboy blood, yearning for the freedom of the llanos. He is searching for his identity and he believes his knowledge of God will give him that identity. Yet the knowledge of God as it is taught doesn’t answer his questions, and the atrocities of life loom ever larger. 

Already we see the classic dilemma of life. We all are looking for identities, torn between family and cultural ideals, and we all are surprised when life doesn’t turn out as we wish. It is Antonio’s perception of God that struck me the most, however. He is torn. On the one hand he knows the God of the church, who has the power to condemn to heaven and hell, the power to judge and to create. In his experience this God is uncaring or powerless over evil, uninvolved in the trauma he experiences. On the other he sees the golden carp, a god of peace drawing all to the happiness of the water.

And to intervene, to receive Antonio when he is in need of safety and comfort, to gain the victory over evil, there is Ultima. Yet Ultima consistently acknowledges that to battle evil, someone must be willing to receive consequences. The good she does comes at a price, always a price.

I wonder sometimes if that which God revealed of Himself in the Old Testament is a bit like Antonio’s perception of God. So unfathomable to the human mind, so impersonal as a judge of sinners that He is hard to accept as real. How often am I tempted to question God just as Antonio did? And the carp. Ah, the golden dreams of peace and prosperity offered by the world around me. It all seems so easy.

But Ultima. In every story of good and evil there is a champion.  Here, the champion is Ultima. In the Bible the champion is Jesus. Not only did Jesus work the cures, not only is He the go to when the spirits have defeated humankind, He suffered the consequences on his own head. Like Ultima, He could say, “I accept my death because I accepted to work for life.” (I Peter 1:21-25).


I rarely cry over sad books or movies and I wasn’t emotionally “into” Ultima, but I cried at the end of the book. I don’t like it when suffering has to precede salvation. I don’t like to think of Jesus paying the price, and I don’t like watching people suffer here, now, as they try, like Antonio, to save their identities, their lives, or their very souls. I cried because the truth of great literature is the truth of the Bible. Evil brings suffering. And it is through suffering that we see our Savior.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

If/Then Statements


I can’t remember if the title was in my high school logic course or a workshop on teaching reading strategies, but “If/Then Statements” rings in my head, a concept I’ve not forgotten. Supposedly these statements were a way of thinking, that in a story or a situation, one needed to determine the logical end. 

So this summer I was visiting with one of my introverted friends, a friend who, like me, walks well on the outside and battles on the inside. This particular day, the discussion was forgiveness, and I tried to share the lessons God had taught me, tried to present the benefits of pursuing relationship despite offenses. I stumbled through my words, until suddenly something came out of my mouth that caused both of us to tear up and sit in silence.

If God is real... and He is.
And if He cares about you... and He does.
Then...

If/then. Those two principles are the basis of Christianity, aren’t they? That God is real? That He cares enough about you to be involved with your life? Cares enough to die?

If that is true, then what? We talk a lot about living the Christian life, but the truth is, that’s kind of a logical thing to do in itself; I mean, good morals create good lives and no one would argue that. 

But if it is true. If God is real. If He cares.

Then we trust when it hurts. We forgive when relationships seem impossible.  We serve for no reward. We press on when we’re weary. We love despite the risk of losing.

If God is real. And He is.
If He cares about you. And He does.
Then.

What?

----
Postscript

As I’ve pondered this principle, a song has played over and over in my mind. This year has been full of opportunities to love, to lose, to smile, to weep, and as I get older, I suspect those opportunities will become only more prevalent, yet I must consider: 

Everything good in life is given by His sacrifice/
I will give it all for Christ...

He’s not safe at all/He might let you fall
He’s not easy/but He’s good, He’s good, He’s good
He will take your time/He might feel unkind
He’s not easy/but He’s good.


-Sidewalk Prophets, Love’s Not Safe

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Insecurities and the Safety Net of Grace




My friend and I were talking about children we knew. Why, she wondered, was one little girl so set on gaining attention and earning favor, while her playmates seemed completely secure? The girls’ personalities are as diverse as their family backgrounds are equivalent. What made the difference in one who begged for approval and three others independent enough to risk walking away from a friend?

Something dawned on me during the conversation. Neither of us had noted up to that point that every one of those playmates was the baby of the family. Of course! my friend agreed. Babies of the family naturally believe that everyone adores and dotes on them. They rarely have a need to grasp for outside approval.
---

The conversation stirred something deep within me. I had another dear friend tell me a few years ago, “You don’t need to do things so people will love you. You are a lovable person just by being you.”

I doubt I’d be considered an insecure person by most. I’ve always known that my dad adored me even if the rest of the world didn’t appreciate me, and I’m certainly capable of standing on principle. Yet I am a pleaser by nature. I worry what people think, or what will happen if I don’t please them. As a child I was so shy I wanted to hide from strangers - and I have always felt that every relationship I had was completely my responsibility to maintain. I don’t share friends well because I always fear I will lose them.

Age and maturity have brought me to a point of acknowledging my own insecurity, of acknowledging its roots (pride), of acknowledging that it is a lack of trust that God is doing a good work. As I finished the book Boundaries I realized just how often that same insecurity, albeit on a much grander scale, drives broken lives. How, then, is insecurity overcome?

----
Philippians 2 states, “Who (Jesus) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (v. 6-8)

Jesus had no insecurity. In fact, He was so secure that He could leave the ultimate in relationship, the ultimate in comfort, KNOWING that He would be completely rejected and that He would lose even His relationship with the Father for a time (Matt. 27:46).

Yet - Jesus did not grasp at that equality. He did not work to keep or earn position or pride. He was able to take a “risk,” losing His reputation. He knew that God HAD highly exalted Him, that at His name, one day, every knee would bow (Phil 2:9-11). Jesus’ security was in God’s plan of grace, knowing that in the end, He would be where He belonged. Like a youngest child, Jesus knew He was the center of His Father's world.

Perhaps youngest children have a human advantage, a mindset into which they are “born.”  Obviously,  even knowing that I, just like Jesus! had a loving Father wasn’t quite enough to settle the part of me that grasped for approval.

God has quieted me, however, as He has spent the last six or so years teaching me of His grace. He has called me Child, thanks to Jesus the Firstborn, has adored and blessed me, has forgiven me, and has used me even when I know I’ve failed. He’s taught me that it’s OK to say no, that His favor does not require that I earn the rest of the world’s, that I cannot control circumstances to perfection. And He is teaching me now to share my friends, to know that if a relationship is based on grace, it is secure; if I must fear loss, perhaps it is best to lose. Why? Because one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord -  only that matters. 

It is resting in grace - the grace that God did not love me for my righteousness, or for my uprightness of heart or because I was more than any people (Deut. 7:8, 9:5), but because He chose me, He created, He redeemed (Psalm 139, I Peter 1). And if I really believe that, if I really believe He is God and I really believe Jesus was the firstborn and I am the beloved “baby of the family,” and I really believe His ultimate plan is the same as it was when Jesus died on the cross - if I really believe Him, then I don’t need to make my decisions based on what someone else might do or think or say. I don’t need to live in fear or worry or insecurity. I can trust. GRACE. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Almost home

The gates to YWAM

The blessing of staying with YWAM included our supper and breakfast. We arrived only slightly late, walking from one building to the other with a Colombian government official who preached revivals on the side. After the meal, we decided to join the four or five young YWAMers on the patio attempting to use the internet. I say attempting because the internet was not working well for any of us that night, and it certainly wasn’t working well for ALL of us. Awaiting a page to load, one of the young guys, probably just out of high school, started a conversation. Where were we from, were we family, why were we here, how did we know YWAM?

I answered and the Spirit of the Lord shined in the conversation. The young man had come to work full time for YWAM for awhile after completing his Discipleship Training School. Like other staff, he had to raise his support himself, but, like many Colombians, the churches in his home had little to offer. He was from Manizales, however, and that was coffee country. His brother-in-law processed coffee for the Cooperativa (the farmer’s coop that sells products without going through big coorporations). Would we be interested in buying some?

And so it was that we bought Colombian coffee of the finest quality, grown by family farms and processed only 2 weeks prior. And we had the blessing of supporting a missionary while spending less than the cost of coffee in the U.S.

Our last morning in the Amazon was uneventful. Tyrel bought machetes and we visited our taxi friends again for a ride to the airport. Initially surprised by the long line in the airport for the only outgoing flight of the morning, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly conversation with the ticket agent, who prepared us for security and arranged for us to be seated together on the plane, apologizing that he had no window seats left. 

The flight to Bogota was restful and we enjoyed another bag of potato chips that  even looked like a sliced potato and wrapped arequipe. I did, however, have a moment of distress at the airport.

When we emerged, I realized that the “airport certified” taxi line as about 100 people long. I KNEW I was not interested in standing in that, but it had been so long since I’d spent time in Bogota, that I was clueless as to what bus to catch and not entirely sure how to get from the airport to the main streets. A businessman nearby noticed my look and offered, “There’s a camioneta (like a van/SUV) service with a much shorter line. Let me arrange a ride there for you.” I agreed to ask, knowing it would be slightly more expensive, and he consulted with a driver to confirm the address. The driver was only too thrilled to take us, but as he started to take our bags I asked, “How much?” “48,000.” 

You might say I overreacted. “No seƱor! Este no queda tan lejos, no vamos a pagar eso!” I motioned to my friends and we set out walking toward town. I tried to call my friend Jessica, as we were headed to her house and I knew she could tell me what bus to ride. No answer.  

But God is good. We were right at the corner of the turn-about for the 26th Street, the thoroughfare for reaching the airport, when I realized other taxis were passing. I waved one down. It was small and we were smooshed, but the driver was fair and even very patiently turned around so that we didn’t get soaked in the downpour when finally arrived and paid our 14,000 pesos.

The man with the llama thought we'd pay him if he pushed his llama into our picture.
As the downpour finally slowed and we set out on our tour of Bogota, I couldn’t believe how much we’d done. We saw the main city square, learned some history, visited the guards at the capital, made a few policemen smile... The Botero museum was a first for me, though I’d often played on the fat Botero horse in the park near my house in Bogota. You’ve never seen so much fat art...

The guards are required to be stoic, but.... they almost laughed.
It was a good trip. It was good to see how blessed I am. Good to know the things of which I read. Good to have friends to share the Colombia I’d come to love and the Colombia which I was meeting. Good to arrive safe and sound.
Because I serve a good God and He delights in our enjoyment of His goodness.