Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Voice of a King

"Not everybody could be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service."
— — Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr quotes have peppered my Facebook updates and inspired my heart this week.

Today though, another King is on my mind.

M.D. King.

Though Martin Luther King Jr. surely has more widespread and well known quotes--it is the voice of M.D. King that is so ingrained in my psyche as to effect my Every Day. To effect the most monumental. To effect my life.

My Granddaddy. I can't remember ever hearing him give a speech. In crowds and groups, he was mostly a quiet observer.

But his persistent adoration and faithful love for all of his family, buoys me even today.

When asked recently by a good friend, to picture in my mind the safest place I could imagine, it was Granddaddy and Mam-ma's house that was immediately evoked.

Did they ever know how LOUD their love would play in my heart? How, even today, as an adult, each wave of adversity is faced with strength from their support. Their "voice" in my life.

That is, in fact, an enduring legacy. One to be noted. And celebrated.

On this, the date of M.D. King's birth, I'll tell my kids his story. I'll "quote" his quotes. I'll mark his service.

I'll remind my offspring of his part of their story.

And we will always call him Great.

Mukama Onyirize

She buried another child recently. There are two graves now with small headstones.

The tears are long past. But the hollowness in her eyes is revealed as we talk.

She shows me hospital notices. We discuss the labored days of care.

I express my sorrow for her loss and we pray.

Her carefully written notes are for Psalm 86.

We read.

As we ponder the words and the Psalmist’s heart…

One message presses into my heart and pours out in explanation.

God is meant to be near.

He is not far off, unfeeling and cold.

He knows the dark and treacherous places that bind us. And he waits there. Longing to set us free.

He. Is. There.

As we weep. When we fail. When we break. In the midst of our ugly, ugliness.

When I prepared to depart she showed me the words of some Rutoro songs she wants to teach to our church. I asked her to sing a verse of the first song.

“Mukama onyirize…” repeated throughout the chorus.

She smiles awareness that this melody is not randomly chosen.

“God, come near.”

“Mukama onyirize.”

For one broken daughter, burying her children and struggling to live through.

Indeed, for any broken daughter.

“Mukama onyirize.”

Let it be so.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stand Firm

It was October. The day was warm. The equatorial sun was rising and gaining strength as mid day approached. Worship was in full swing for the town church.

The meandering arrivals had slowed and the chairs were filled. The worship songs had us on our feet. The opened tent flaps beat time to the rhythmic cadence of the praise chorus. One song after another. Swahili. English. Luganda. Runyankore. Lingala. Rutoro. Many of the words I cannot directly translate. But the phrases, the idea is clear. We are worshipping a God we need. A God who acts. A God who speaks.

On this particular Sunday, Isaiah called to me. Words from that long ago prophet that spoke right into the depths of my soul. To my heart. I read the words during the worship. I prayed the words during prayer.

And I heard...

“Stand firm, beloved.”

A gentle whisper to my soul as startling as a loud shout. Bold irony.

“Stand firm.”

As the Swahili choruses swirled around me, I returned to prayer.

“What do you mean exactly, Father, when you say ‘stand firm’? Which circumstance do I apply this too?”

“Pick one, beloved. Stand firm. I will make all things new.”


“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1Cor 15:58

Many times, I stand--cowered. This is the "old" in my life. The well-rehearsed. The usual.

I obey. But hesitantly. Second-guessing.

But my Father's directive was "Firm". Steadfast. Unflinching.

And I know, from years of painful failing, that this directive is completely impossible for fearing little me.

Which is the point.

He is the point.

"Stand firm."


Only in Him. With Him. By Him.

I intentionally practice the spreading wide my arms to receive all the His Spirit provides, even the bitter cup. And Stand.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalms66:10-12

Standing firm. (Because He stood first.)

Abundance is always just ahead.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Table Turning

We have a small white table that sits in the center of our kitchen.

It is oval shaped and from the day it began inhabiting our cooking space, it sat East-West.

Two days ago, I turned the table. It now sits North-South.

My family was astounded and the redirected oval has drawn much commentary.

“Um. Mom. What’s wrong in here?”

“Hey. Did you move something?”

“”Wow! There is more room.”

“I don’t like it.”

“It looks great!”

“It’s messed up my pacing pattern!”

“When I talk to you in the kitchen, I don’t know where to stand.”



A word pondered, celebrated and repeated at this time of year.

A word I am wholeheartedly embracing.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now, it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

Two days ago, I turned a table in my kitchen.

And each morning, I turn some tables in my heart.

A change of perspective. A redefinition of space. Momentary discomfort and inconvenience. A fresh result.

I persistently seek. Intentionally choose.

One new day at a time.

With Him.

His “table turning” produces the impossible.

"A way in the desert."

"A stream in the wasteland."

Hope for the hopeless places.

"Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23

Amen and amen.