Sunday, February 26, 2006

Where Am I?

It feels like this country has been holding its breath for a week.

The Uganda Presidential Elections.

In Uganda, much information is gathered word of mouth. It is a difficult way to gain understanding. Over time, you can surmise an 'abstract painting' of a given situation but never a clear picture. We've been warned and heard threats of complaints no matter which side won. We were encouraged to stay at home.

Which we dutifully did. Until yesterday. I had a Bible study in town.

I have it every week. Atwooki and I meet at a restaurant. She drinks soda. I drink hot tea. We greet each other, ask about each others children and home and then we study. We are working our way through the Women of the Bible. The restaurant is across from the bustling market.
Everything felt normal.

We were talking about Tamar. Quite a story to tell. To be honest, I never know exactly where to go with Tamar's recounting. What point to make.

Married to a foreigner. A wicked foreigner. No children. Widowed. Given to wicked brother. Deprived. Widowed again. Blamed. Virtual Abandonment. Scheming. Posing as prostitue. Sleeping with Daddy-in-law. Facing cruel death. Saved. Twins. A place in the lineage of Christ. Huh?

I was just making the point to Atwooki that God is always seeing us and paying attention. Even if our life is not in order. And following up with the point that we may not know what God has in store for us or our children even if our life feels humdrum and usual...

And three gunshots punctuated a chorus of screams.

Atwooki and I and the gentlemen at the table beside us were immediately on full alert.

The screams and shouting were taking place at the corner, across from the market. People were running and a scuffle had ensued.

After a few seconds of observing the chaotic crowd, the man at the table next to us said, "they are arresting someone."

I scanned the area for a barricade to hide behind and my mind raced to determine if the man's analysis was accurate.

There was a police truck at the center of the struggle and two piki-piki drivers were yanked into the back of the truck and raced away. (piki-pikis are motor scooters used as inexpensive public transport)

We all let out a collective breath and tried to regain our composure. I think my heart pounded for a good 10 minutes.

We prayed together and calmed down tremendously. I finished my tea. She finished her soda. We paid our bill, sent greetings to each others families and went on about our day. The market sellers were shouting out their prices. The remaining piki drivers were discussing politics and calling out for passengers. Atwooki went to the market to see her friend. I got in my car to check the mail.

And I couldn't stop thinking, "WHERE AM I?"

A gun was just fired into a crowd of people at the market. Two men were roughly beaten and hauled away. My danger sensors were already on high alert because of possible rioting due to the results of free democratic elections. And yet we all drank tea, studied the Bible, went to the market and checked the mail. Life going on as normal?!

I've lived here awhile now. But the revelation never fails to be shocking. I am a foreigner in a very different world. Whew.

As I drove home from the post office I wrestled with the surrealness of it all.

And through the fog of the surreal Tamar's story emerged again.

She is listed (a woman?) in a very important family lineage. No one is quite sure how she got there. A foreigner in a different world. No rights to speak of. Succumbing to and even choosing one undignified situation after another.

Forever linked by blood to the Messiah.

Life is foggy sometimes. No clear understanding of why. Maybe not even a place to lay blame.
Even worse, sometimes, the blame placement is crystal clear!

Nevertheless, the question "how did I get HERE?" very often demands to be heeded. Processing and analysis follow. Sometimes answers. Sometimes acceptance. Sometimes silence and a void.

How incredibly grateful I am that despite the fog and whatever the processing brings me to,
the Lord steps in to remind me. Often, chapters after the initial question is posed.

"You matter so much. I'll join you, wayward one, to Me. In an unquestioning and irrefutable way. By Blood."

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ....Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household...with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." Ephesians 2:13,19-20
(you can find Tamar's complete story in Genesis 38 and her name in Matthew 1)

(President Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner last evening. There were no riots in Ft Portal, only jubilant celebration. Thank you for your prayers.)


Lynn said...

Cheryl, How beautifully God puts the words in your heart to point out how we need to recognize Whose we are. And to not be a barrier to "those people" in coming near to Him. God help us to see in the people we minister to, not what they are, but what God can make them. I love you! Come on furlough!

amy said...

Was it "coincedence" or "God-incedence" that I was just reading Tamar's story last night and wondering "what am I doing for His ministry"? I think you know the answer- God incedence :)
I'm at home from church with sick kiddos but God's words and your wisdom have given me a priceless time of worship. I so want to do His will but I feel like I am in "foreign land" within my home congregation. How do you see God's direction in such confusing times? Is He using me or am I letting Satan get a hold on my heart and preventing God's true glory?
Thanks so much for your encouragement amid your gun fire. I am so much safer than you but feel like I am being "shot at" continually by evilness. I pray God continues to keep you safe and you continue to glorify Him. Please pray for Robert and my ministry as we try to reach young children and their families. Pray for all our personal kids(my 3 and your 4) that our ministries strengthen their walk with God and does not hinder it.
I would love to see you next furlough but so does everyone else I know.
Always in my prayers,

KMiV said...

Wow what a story within a story. I am glad you all are OK. I hope that the story of Tamar is helpful. It is interesting that she is also scattered in the genealogy with other "questionable women" such as Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.

Patty said...

Never a dull moment for you... I'm looking for truth in a caterpillar cage and you're living it out in the marketplace. Thank God for peaceful elections. Can we possibly make a date for tea if you get to Portland on furlough? I'd so love to hug you and tell you a story that is very much your own.

Andrew said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful sermon with us all. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Praise God you are safe. We will continue to pray as this process continues.