This coming Wednesday Jim and I lead a pilgrimage to Ireland and Iona, retracing the steps of Columba who lived in the 500’s. I have finally given in and joined the world of Instagram and hope to post there, so if you’re an Insta-grammer that’s where you may follow along. I’d love to hear from you! Also, I’m delighted to be a speaker at the Gather Conference here in Colorado Springs, September 28-30. Hope many of you can join us; for details check my Bespoken Facebook page. Now on to this week’s blog:
So many good and wonderful things find life in the rain.
This month we say farewell to someone I met in the rain many years ago. Twenty years, to be precise. Twenty years ago this very month I met a young man who was to become a son and brother in our household. Now two decades to the month later, apart from a miracle intervention we bid adieu. He is in a coma in a hospital on the other side of the globe, totally inaccessible to us. I don’t know if it is raining there today, but I know it is raining in me as the storm of grief settles in. It won’t stay: I won’t allow it to remain long enough to identify me, but it has marked me and I will feel its raw ache long enough to maneuver the valley of the shadow of death. And I will come out the other side rejoicing.
It was August 1997 when our family moved itself to a country a world away. What an adventure! We prayed and planned and packed for months and months ahead of time until The Day arrived. I remember that our son slept for much of the 14 hour flight and when he woke he was crying even before his eyes were open. How my heart broke for him. I would rub his back and assure him it was going to be ok, that he was going to be ok, that his life was not ruined. He would fall asleep then I would cry. Loving enough to risk everything for the very ones you love the most requires all one is and has. Loving that much hurts. It is scary. The outcomes are not predictable and the challenges feel overwhelming. Fear and doubt nip at one’s heels and questions of ‘is it worth it?’ bow only to remembering the conviction of having heard the voice of God say, “Come, follow me.” Love like that is wild and rare and oh, so very, very worth it.
These past months have been quiet ones for me in terms of writing and travel/speaking. At the same time they have been some of my busiest in years, what with a wedding and three moves to new houses and/or locations with us and two of our daughters. During these months I have had a very deep and desperate call to prayer for the generation that follows my own. Even a cursory look around shouts the reality that what we have been doing, “The way we’ve always done things”, is not working. Though we love God with all our hearts and long to express His goodness (which leads to repentance) through our life and actions we often find that our message goes unlistened to. That it is not wanted or able to be received in the way we know to express it. At time it feels irrelevant – how can this be?! – the very Good News that God is love and Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death – and it feels irrelevant? The cry for mercy, for understanding and the ability to make a difference to a hurting world, an orphan generation, is deep and profound within me, as I know it is within many of you.
How grateful – beyond thankful – I am to say that my son (and the rest of us!) did survive our assignment all those years ago. Each of our grown children walk with God and our family is strong and we love and honor one another: God is so faithful. When we lived overseas a man I honor and respect very much, Gary Russell of China Harvest, told me that Psalm 126 was a scripture I would see lived out in my life. It became ‘my’ psalm, a life-line of sorts to hang on to in both good times and bad. That which began in the rain so long ago is coming to a close with weeping and with joy. The years ahead will unfold with shouts of deliverance as I carry my ‘sheaves’, those I love and for whom I have laid down my life – with me. They are the treasures I will one day lay at the feet of the One my heart loves most.
So, if this finds you wondering if saying “yes” to the call of Jesus is worth the price, my prayer is that you Love Yourself To Life to the degree that you cannot help but love others with all that is within you and give Him your Yes. That which you sow in tears will one day be reaped in joy – that’s the promise of Psalm 126.
Psalm 126 The Voice Bible
Remember when the Eternal brought back the exiles to Zion? It was as if we were dreaming – Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues were spilling over into song.
The word went out across the prairies and deserts, across the hills, over the oceans wide, from nation to nation:“The Eternal has done remarkable things for them.” We shook our heads. All of us were stunned – the Eternal has done remarkable things for us. We were beyond happy, beyond joyful.
And now, Eternal One, some are held captive and poor. Release them, and restore our fortunes as the dry riverbeds of the South spring to life when the rains come at last.
Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears, will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared. Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.