The Story of Stuff

21 03 2010

This woman is my hero.  I think I’m becoming granola.  Please take 20 minutes and check out this informative video.


For My Friend

14 03 2010

I have a friend who’s in a pretty intense period of being stripped of everything normal in her life.  It’s like an earthquake of sorts, where suddenly everything’s shaken up, the ground’s dropped out from underneath her, the structures in her life have crumbled to the ground, she’s lost her own two feet to stand on, she doesn’t have resources to even begin to rebuild, most days she battles being too tired to even climb out of the rubble and the aftershocks come in waves just at the moments when she starts to have hope again.  I have watched her amazingly try to put the pieces back together, to “make it work,” to find a way out from here when there really is no visible way…all with a joyful, hopeful, tenacious spirit.  And yet, at the end of the day, and amidst the rumble of still more aftershocks, we are recognizing that the only thing God is really letting her do is, well, receive.

Receiving is almost a four-letter word in our can-do culture.  I remember my own earthquake season – quite different from my friend’s, but legitimate nonetheless – where my world was completely shaken and I found my giving self with nothing left to give.  I suddenly depended deeply on people’s money, plane tickets, ideas, prayers, anger, advice, time spent listening to me say the same struggles over and over again, and the truth they faithfully spoke into those struggles over and over again.  It took my understanding of humility from a concept I chose to act when it was convenient, to something I couldn’t escape feeling – like when you haven’t eaten in a while and you feel a little trembling in your knees.  It forced me to walk in weakness.

This position of true humility, when you know you’re weak, deeply violates our culture’s unspoken law of “success” or what it even means to be “normal.”  And if we are Christian, we say we’re different and that we put our trust in God, but we really keep the culture’s law as much as anyone.  We wrestle with God to give us strength and to “open doors” so we can walk into the next room of life confidently on our own two feet.  The idea of only being able to sit in the room waiting for others to come and drop things off or carry us forward – because that’s sometimes all we can do – spits in the face of Calvin’s capitalistic work ethic, makes us seem lazy, and stirs a deep and persistent fear down low in our gut that our survival, let alone that abundant life Jesus promised us, is quite absurdly dependent on the willingness of others to come and journey with us.

I was thinking of my friend this week and the painful process she’s been on having to accept both her inability to give and receive at the same time, and I was thinking of how we as Christians respond to these seasons of dependence in our lives.  We accuse God of not loving us because He won’t give us all the things we want/need in order to be independent (anyone looking for a job?  Having a life-direction crisis?  Wanting a better education so you can get a little more respect?  Struggling to pay the bills or secretly bitter at your budget?  Lonely?  Wanting to see the fruit of your ministry?)  All of the antidotes to these desires, even when desired with good intentions – money, jobs, direction, spouses, community, etc. – they all dance before us like prizes on the Price is Right promising to pave the way to that life we’ve always wanted, or legitimately even hoped to have in order to honor God.  We accuse God of not loving us when he doesn’t give us these things.  Perhaps the accusation is not explicit, but we ask him to show his love to us by giving us these things – am I right?

But we miss his love when he withholds…in the way he starves our independence but satisfies our dependence.  That we must depend on the providence of God and others does not mean he does not love us, but rather that he loves us so deeply that he wants to meet our needs and be involved in our lives.  The story of the people of God as they wandered through the wilderness was not that they survived by their own strength, but rather that they were dependent upon the strange and unanticipated gifts of God: water from rocks, victory in battle through worship not warfare, guidance from clouds and fire, manna that fed them enough for each day instead of meals they could prepare themselves.  This is the miracle of the manna – that the God who could have given them more than enough for their entire journey all at once, instead chose to show up every morning and rain down just enough for the day…and then he showed up again and again and again.  Sure, he was leading them to a land flowing with milk and honey, where they would never be in want, and we need to remember this and pray that God would lead us to our own land of plenty, but if you’re like me or my friend and you’re not yet there, let us rejoice in the love of the manna and continue to pray as Jesus advised us, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

“My God, my God, why have you deserted me?  How far from saving me, the words I groan!  I call all day, my God, but you never answer, all night long I call and cannot rest.  Yet, Holy One, you who make your home in the praises of Israel, in you our ancestors put their trust, they trusted you and you rescued them; they called to you for help and they were saved; they never trusted you in vain.” – Psalm 22:1-5

Six World Vision Pakistan Employees Killed in Attack

11 03 2010

Please join me in prayer for my colleagues in Pakistan.  I am reminded during this Lenten season to prepare the way for our Lord’s coming again with prayers for peace, and to weep over the violence in our cities as Jesus wept over Jerusalem before his final entry.

New York Times article here.