Monday, October 29, 2007

Second Wind

We lost two brothers. Two sons. Two friends.

Sin rarely comes on all of a sudden. It is a gradual wavering, considering, trying. Choosing.

And then Death.

Our awareness of the pallor of their souls came on gradually too. A conversation here. A lengthy discussion there. The random comments.

We sensed and understood their feet slipped on the slope, but we felt strong ahead of them, slowing our pace to point out the next steps. Coming up alongside them.  Offering our hands. Roping together.

We love them so.

I will never forget the Moment. We were watching them tumble over the precipice. Terror and sorrow were ripping up my insides. Jeff and I slid back down the slope towards them our minds racing with how to catch them. How to pull them back.

We secured our feet at the edge of the cliff and tightened the rope to hold them.

The rope pulled taut and we felt the dead weight of their bodies pulling us forward. We anchored shouting encouragement to each other and to them.

Then the weight shifted and with shock, incredulousness and horror…

We saw them severing the rope.

Their lifeline.

They were disconnecting.

And they were laughing. Mocking our struggle above. Our sweat and exertion.
In some sort of ironic amputation they were separating from their Salvation.

We called for help. We tried to convince them to quit cutting. They shouted at us in anger.

And then we watched them fall. With joy on their faces. They thought they were free. We knew from where we lay in the dirt, the soil wet from our tears and the sweat of our battle, that they would hit the bottom and that it would mean their death.

We know because we’ve been at the bottom too. We’ve hit it hard. Blindly sailing towards it’s rocks and crags. Naively thinking we had been set free. Only to find the wounds and gashes caused from the fall bound us more tightly than the ropes that tied us to the others walking the narrow path on the heights above.

We laid in the dirt exhausted from the struggle. Wordless in agony. Wondering where the energy would come from to stand up and climb again. How we would face the trail without those two, our friends, whom we love.

Some others on the trail came up behind us. They looked lost and needed help to find the Way. We know the Way and understand, it is our calling to lead others on it.

We stand on shaking legs weak from the fight. The rope burns on our hands sting as we offer new rope to those joining the climb. With trepidation, we rope up with strangers, comprehending it’s the only way to climb this path. Unsure as to if they will strengthen our step or eventually pull us to the edge of the cliff again.

We trudge. Each step brings with it grief. Analyzing how we might have convinced our brothers otherwise. Wondering where they got the knife. Remembering the fear of the moments just before they were lost. Feeling the wounds created in the struggle.

Trudging.

Memories push in to the cadence of the heavy steps we take.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…”
“By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”
“By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
“By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”
“By faith, the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land;”
“By faith, the walls of Jericho fell…”
“By faith the prostitue Rahab…”
“By faith Jacob….”
“By faith Isaac…”
“By faith Joseph…”


We remember and we step again.

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

We wince as we drop the bitterness, the anger. We drop it like lead weights on the path beside us.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

We drop the weight of discouragement. Pride is torn from our flesh.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Our eyes look up, off the dusty trail. Our eyes search ahead, away from our trudging feet. We strain to see around our own choices. Around their choices.

And we see Him.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

He has gone before us. The path we walk, He carved.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons….No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Our muscles ache. The wounds reawaken and ooze.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
The new people behind us ask where we are going. They want some proof that we know the destination.

“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched…But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. “

And then we hear it. The chords. The voices. The Song.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Suddenly, a second wind overwhelms our breathless lungs. And the Song pours out. Undefeatable. Uncontainable. Loud.

We have each come from Death. The death we chose when we sinned.
On the narrow path, we are all pit dwellers…lifted up. We all have the Song.

“The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army. He makes my feet like hind’s feet, and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]!

Our steps quicken again. The procession around us throngs. Our singing, the praise, reminds us.
He sees us all. And Saves. He alone.

No one falls outside of His awareness. No one dies that His heart doesn’t break.

No pit is too deep that He can’t lift us out.

And we ARE going Home.

We must only press on and rejoice.

This is what He has called us to, for today.

He is Enough. El Shaddai.

Scripture References: James 1:15;Romans 4:18;Hebrews 11 & 12;Psalm 40:2-3;Habakkuk 3:19

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Glory!

It is with great joy and celebration that I announce to you dear blog friends...

"I have completed my family's laundry in my working washer and dryer."

If you are curious as to why this is news...see the previous post.

I don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure about Who...

We did nothing but pray. Jeff had worked and reset to absolutely no avail when we discovered the problem over a week ago. The machines would not operate. And there was a burning smell...which is never good.

When we got back I waited before facing what I thought was the inevitable. I tried the dryer first...then the washer...and now about 8 loads later...the gentle whir and tumble of my beloved friends fills my heart with praise.

Doing laundry never felt so good...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Too Little...Too Much

Ft Portal is currently undergoing EST. Electricity Shortage Torture. ("Torture" is obviously my own description.) Several months ago, UMEME (the only power company in Uganda) announced that they had to repair a major fault in the Ft Portal power lines and it would take some months. Months. They set a schedule to turn off our power at 7 am and then turn it back on at 7 pm. Everyday. But, unfortunately, they have misrepresented the truth. They rarely turn the power on at 7pm. In fact, it is quite impossible to share the schedule with you. It is a WWAGAR schedule. ("Whenever we are good and ready...") The power often comes after 9pm and goes off again at random hours in the night and early morning.
Which means we are getting very little usable power... unless, I become a complete night owl and never sleep...

To magnify the problem, our house is hooked up to an old, overused transformer which is known to catch on fire. Yep. You read that right. Fire.

When our transformer sparks and shoots out fire, our house looses power. So when the rest of town is using their already limited power, we sit in the dark. And think the loveliest thoughts. ☺

Two weeks ago, as we were preparing for a much needed trip to the capital city, our transformer spouted fire and we sat in the dark. For 4 days. We are a family of six, which means the already overwhelming laundry pile was growing exponentially while we waited for the power to be fixed. (We did wash some clothes out by hand...but that process was also thwarted by the unbelievable deluge of rain...hand washed clothes do not dry out well in such wet, moist weather.)

On Saturday night, our power came back on! Praise! I turned on the washer and the dryer and thanked the Lord for whatever minutes of washing we could accomplish.

Which wasn’t very many.

Our lights started buzzing. The power was spiking so high, our breakers were blowing like crazy. I stopped all the machines…but not soon enough.

On Sunday morning, when the power came back on again at normal volts, my dryer and my washing machine would not work.

To understand the depths of my grief…you need to read my past posts…here and here.
These washing and drying machines have been long awaited in my life and have brought me the greatest joy. That UMEME, who I already have more issues with than I can communicate politely on this blog, may have taken these precious ones from me…
makes me think words I shouldn’t.

Like…”Fooey”…

My tired brain has been on overload following a difficult season of ministry…so all I could do was pray desperate prayers for the healing of our machinery …unplug them…and quietly shut the door. God’s will be done.

I squeezed out water from the dripping wet washing machine load and hung those clothes out with the still wet load from the dryer. Then packed dirty clothes for our trip. Sigh.

In the power spike of that day and the previous weeks we have lost a TV, a microwave, washer and dryer and our inverter.

That is a rather long and discouraging list.

There is a bright side:

Our computers are still functioning--for which we are very thankful.
And we have solar equipment on the way in a sea container.

Which will get us off the spiking, machine destroying, rarely working grid...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

That's "Share-Oh" to You



In all my years of hanging out with the short crowd, no child has ever learned to say my name first. I love my name...but it's combination of "r" and 'l" sounds leave little learners struggling.

Even in Uganda, where "r" and "l" sounds are easily interchanged and confused, many grownups can't pronounce my name. I am often referred to as "Sharon" or just "Che...."



Enter scene: The Brilliant Jotham. (cue trumpets...)








Jotham learned my name very early in his word repetoire! He has said my name and Silas' name before any other of our family member's names. Which secures his place forever in my heart! (You had a pretty solid hold there, Jotham, before you ever learned to speak!)

He calls me "Share-oh" and I'm grinning just writing that.

Jotham, we love you, man! Thanks for bringing such joy and laughter to our lives!