Monday, February 27, 2012

God's faithfulness in the little things...

Have I mentioned lately how faithful and incredibly awesome God is? Even in the little things? You know... little things like the 1000 gifts that take too much time to keep counting because they just keep coming and coming and coming faster than I can stop and write them down. (Though never too fast to send up praise for!)

I've got a little story this morning.

Yesterday morning my daughter asked me when I was going to put buttons on a project I had started for her (and never finished). It only took me a few minutes to realize that I had no idea where I'd put the buttons. I wasn't too worried, though. After all, it was Sunday morning, and I hadn't been awake all that long. Surely once I put my mind to it and really thought and looked, I'd figure out where I'd stashed them.

We left for church, and the buttons completely fled my mind.

Later yesterday afternoon, my husband and I decided to tackle the overgrown mess that had (rather embarrassingly so) grown to epic proportions in our catch-all of a bedroom. A little ways into it, I gathered up some jewelry beads that I'd left laying on my bedside table weeks ago. Now maybe it hadn't been too lazy of me to put them there the night that I'd discovered they were still around my neck as I was drifting off to sleep. But it was lazy of me to leave them there for weeks, and I knew it. In fact, I'd known it every time I noticed them there.

So yesterday, as I finally did what I should have done weeks ago and gathered up the beads, I discovered the rather unsurprising fact that one was missing. I grabbed a flashlight and searched the carpet and under the bed, but no bead was to be found. I sighed and gave it up for lost, assuming that I'd unknowingly vacuumed it up a few days earlier.  At least these were only craft-store quality beads worth a few dollars!

A few minutes later, though, it occurred to me that perhaps it had fallen in the trash can that stays at the side of the bed. (The trash can that my lazy-here-too self hadn't emptied in a very long time, by the way.) So I took everything out, bit by bit...

...Only find my daughter's buttons in the bottom of the trash can! I pulled them out, wondering two things simultaneously. First, how in the world had I wound up throwing them away? And second, had God had allowed me to lose the bead specifically so I'd find the buttons? But that second question led to a third. Lord, thank You for these buttons...but if You allowed me to lose the bead so I'd find them, then will You now show me where the bead is?

I gathered the trash back up to put it all in the trash can...

And there, the second to last thing waiting to be picked back up, was the bead.

I laughed in delight. How like my heavenly Father this was! That He would care enough about my daughter's buttons and my $2 bead that He would orchestrate all of that!


Even before I'd thought to ask Him for the buttons.

Just to restore what I didn't even know was about to be permanently lost.

Even though it was all a result of my laziness!

There is truly no one like my God!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God is on the move...

I haven't posted in a month... but that's not a reflection of what's been happening. Quite the opposite in fact.

But much of what God is doing isn't really things I can share here. It's not my place to share other people's private stories, nor is it always wise to share what God showed me in those stories.

Yet everywhere I look, things are happening.

Galatians 4:4 says that God sent Jesus in the fullness of time. My understanding of this verse is that Paul was saying that God's timing in sending Jesus was perfect. That sending Him any earlier would have been too early, and sending Him later would have been too late.  History bears some of this out, for the stability and road system of the Roman empire enabled the apostles to spread the gospel like no other time in history before or for quite a while afterward could have allowed. But I'm sure God had myriad upon myriad of other reasons why that timing was perfect.

I believe God answers prayer and moves in people's lives in the fullness of time as well. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, yet so that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." To me, this verse speaks not only of the restoration power of God, but also of the perfectness of His timing...timing that He alone knows. Timing that is rooted in eternity, but timing that is often beyond our understanding.

Why have these last four months been God's timing in so many things?  I don't know...yet I am reminded of a few scenes in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

There is this scene when Mr. Beaver first told the children, "They say Aslan is on the move!"

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. AslanPerhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
I've felt for awhile now like Peter, Susan, and Lucy do there.

And now, this is what I see happening around me. Remember that the White Witch's reign had caused nothing but winter for hundreds of years. And now...


That is how I feel.

God is releasing His power.  

Life is flowing.

And that wonder is what I feel as I notice beginnings blooming, and exiles ending, and things that are dead being brought back to life.

For God is on the move!

And He does all things well. (Mark 7:37) My conviction of the truth of that verse in my life and the world today is only becoming more and more firm, and my trust grows with it, for this is what my trust is grounded in.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen!       

Monday, February 13, 2012

God via Katie via Katie...

I'm inserting this post from Katie-in-Uganda into my blog back in time (because I didn't find it 'till the 23rd, but I'd rather attach it to the 13th, which is when she wrote it).

I'm going to trust that God will lead those who need to read it to find it.

I'm also going to trust that the other Katie won't mind if this Katie re-posts it in its entirety:
Healer God

November

“You are right,” he says.

I look up into the shy smile I have grown to love so much. Day 178 of bandaging this wound, and it is almost gone.

Makerere is not one to strike up conversation usually, so I probe. “Right about what?”

“That thing you say. You know. About even bad things being used for our good and all of it working for God’s glory even when we can’t see it. You are right. If I hadn’t been burnt we might not be friends, you know. And If I hadn’t come to live here, I would still be drinking and mostly, I wouldn’t know about that Jesus,” he laughs, “Jesus.”

I focus my gaze back on the bandage to hide the happy tears. I am right, but sometimes, I need reminding.


****


Sometime in April, Christine pulled up in my van. “I have a patient for you,” she said as she opened the back door. I knew he was in bad shape as he tumbled out, and I could feel the vomit surge hot in my throat as I caught that first glimpse of his leg – skin burnt charcoal black, bone exposed, nothing even still alive enough to bleed.

I knew this man. At least, I thought I did. As the village drunk of Masese, he was a constant annoyance to me. I was appalled but not surprised to learn that while he was passed out in the middle of the day, some neighbors lit his house on fire. The fire caught his leg and he crawled out just in time to watch his neighbors steal all his remaining belongings from inside.

And thus began the season that I though would heal him, but instead healed me.

He moaned as I injected painkiller and mumbled a story that I couldn’t understand. I prayed over his wound and over his heart, and when he fell asleep on the porch, I didn’t make him move but draped a blanket over him instead and I didn’t realize that just this simple action would be the beginning of coming to love the newest member of our family.

The doctor at the best hospital around told me he would lose his leg if I didn’t dress and clean it daily. That probably he would lose it anyway. At this point, I don’t think he cared one way or another, but I did. Just months earlier, tragedy had struck our family. And although I had no idea at the time, Jesus was bringing about my own healing by drawing me into someone else’s. I couldn’t verbalize it then, but it is as if my heart screamed, “I lost my daughter. I lost my reality. You will not lose your leg. You will not lose yours.” And so I threw myself into becoming an expert on third degree burn care.

For hours each day I scraped the dead skin from this wound and God scraped at the dead places of my heart. Buried places that, though I would never say it, somehow doubted that God could be good, all the time, when my daughter’s bed lay empty. And I said it out loud, to him and to myself. God uses all for good. For His glory. God is using this, I said, and I smiled at new pink life showing through and though I didn’t recognize it yet, God was growing new life out of the very hardest places of my heart.

For a month he came and went. I would bandage the leg and send him home; he would return the next day and I would almost be thankful that he was drunk because even still the pain was excruciating. I would wash and scrape and scrub and dress and I cry and I would say to that wound and to anyone who would listen, “We will not lose this leg.” Others from the community stepped over our new friend asleep on the porch and they shook their heads. “You can’t save ‘em all. Not this one, Katie.” But I am stubborn. And God is relentless.

Eventually he just moved in to the little house in our back yard. This made finding him at bandaging time quite a bit easier and it allowed me to make sure he wasn’t drinking. As he began to sober up, we began to have longer conversations; he would tell me all about his life and his family before he became an alcoholic and found himself homeless in Masese and I would tell him about a Savior born as an infant in a feeding trough and nailed to a tree. He questioned everything I said about God’s goodness and sovereignty, and I know that as I was answering him, I was answering myself, too. In the darkest place of my life God had me testify each day exactly who I knew Him to be. In those hours of wound bandaging He was introducing Himself to me again. The Working All For Good God. The Still and Always Faithful God. The God who sees who we are and uses all the broken places to make us who we are becoming. I said these things out loud and I watched God make them true all over again.

And this is what I learned: the hard does not minimize His goodness but allows us to experience His goodness in a whole new way.

152 days of wrapping and talking and laughing and crying later, new skin covered this once dead area. The leg that so many thought was lost could walk and even run. And the man that so many thought was hopeless had been sober for over 6 months. A week later, this physically healed man walked into my kitchen as grinned from ear to ear. “I believe it,” he announced. “Today I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Simple as that.

I didn’t try to contain my excitement as I danced around the kitchen that day, and I still daily choke back tears as the time I once spent wrapping his leg in gauze is now spent scouring the Bible together for the answer to his every question.

The burnt area on his leg is still a few shades lighter than the skin surrounding it. “Can I look at your leg?” I ask often, and he knows why. “See what God did?” he will chuckle. And we both see so much more than new skin.

Jesus. He met us right where we were, right there on the cold hard tile of my sun room, and He took two broken people, so different and yet so much more alike and showed us the scars on His hands and said its ok if we have some too because the scars are always drawing us to Him.

I love that word... relentless. That is exactly what the love of God is.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion