I know it’s Christmas and depending on the audience, “Merry Christmas” can be a sincere wish, an act of defiance, or a virtue signal. As for us, Marantha seems a more fitting greeting this year.
It’s been about a month since our little mission cabin was destroyed in an Iota landslide. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since God called us out of the City of Refuge into the mountains here.
To say that we loved our little cabin would be an understatement for sure. Of course, we always knew our time there would come to an end. That awareness only added to the sacredness. Ironically last year I wrote that Water brought us here. I guess it’s only fitting that water-soaked earth should take us out.
I ended that post with Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Like a lot of people, we’ve had our times of wrestling with God this year. Perhaps you can relate. “Why Lord did you bring us here only to lock us down in our house for 13 out of every 14 days.” Yet “Why?” is the cry of spoiled children. “What are you doing Lord?” is the only valid one. The only thing that came to mind each time I asked was the word “preserve”. Cathy heard “worship me”. Meanwhile, each time we stopped wrestling with God over our situation, let go, and focused on Him and His word, He’d bring His purpose into our lives.
I can’t describe the confusion I experienced as I walked down the road that morning and realized that our house was completely gone then saw the two boulders laying side by side in the exact place where our heads would have been had we chosen to sleep there that night.
I did get part of an answer to my question for the year.
The Lord had directed our steps and preserved us.
The other part came from Jacob. The story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 has always been one of my favorites. It was during our morning devotions the other day that the word “preserved” emerged again in verse 30. I’d never really noticed it before. We looked it up and found the original Hebrew word is “Natsal”.
It means to “deliver, rescue and save.
“Natsal” also means to strip.
We had been stripped of everything but the clothes on our backs and we were homeless in the third world. And yet a strange supernatural peace enveloped us as well as an even stronger bond between us as husband and wife.
That bond and peace remain with us now.
It is a peace that comes with the reassurance that His hand is indeed upon us and the understanding that true worship is trusting Him no matter what. We did. We do. If we leave this earth tomorrow it is only because our appointed time has arrived.
In the meantime, He will preserve us.
Like most full-time missionaries we’ve had our share of weird harrowing experiences. One thing we have observed is that life goes on as normal until suddenly it doesn’t. One minute your driving down the road singing silly songs then staring down the barrels of rifles or threatened with spears in the next. In any case, facing one’s imminent demise is always surreal. One thing is certain. All of life as we know it will one day be swept away. As our 78-year-old friend, Maria just said,
“He gives and takes away.”
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Mat 6:25-27
It didn’t take long for us to release all our worldly possessions that were buried beneath mud and wreckage. The ease with which we did this surprised everyone especially us. A few days later our Honduran friends asked us to come to their house. When we arrived we found clothing and other things that the community had painstakingly dug up and washed for us.
They even dug my drone and a pouch full of Cathy’s special heirloom jewelry she’d made 40 years ago out of three feet of mud.
The love was priceless and palpable even if our hearts sank under the renewed burden of stuff.
That sounds crazy. I know.
What are you doing Lord?
While we are certain more will be revealed, at this point, the joy of a James 1:2-4 testing that increased our faith and the contentment described by Paul in Phil 4:11-13 appear to be the biggest takeaway right now. It’s one thing to read and know the word. Living is is another.
Since then we’ve been consumed with helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If you follow us and or Hope In Time Ministries on FaceBook then you know what we’ve been up to. As for our welfare, we have a fully furnished house to stay in until March 1st.
We have no idea where we are going after that. Mat 6:25-27.
The devastation here can be mind-numbing and the temptation to check out is real.
Yet on this day, our hearts go out to so many in the 1st world. Those grasping for the material. Those praying that their old lives will be restored and those with all hope in a political candidate. Those with the same hope in a vaccine. Those who remain terrified and angry about so many things beyond their control. Those consumed by the cares of this world and are blind.
To those I say, “there is a better way”.
I’m not a prophet, fortune teller, or seer but I’m guessing that events in the coming weeks and years are going to draw many to the Lord and cause others to fall away. I believe there is a message in the recent events of our lives that applies to all.
Everyone on earth has a world view. Everyone frames their lives accordingly. Every world view is framed or bracketed by unprovable assumptions regarding one’s origin and destiny. It is on these assumptions that we all place our trust and fill the space in between. That so many today are thoroughly consumed with anxiety and fear over things that they can not control let alone understand is not the result of events between the brackets.
They are a result of bad bracketing.
Maranatha is an Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means “Jesus has come” and “Jesus is coming”. It is the gospel of the Kingdom condensed into one word. It is the truth claim that brackets the life of every true follower of Christ regardless of how messed up things might be in the space in-between. It is the truth claim the brackets our existence and supports everything we do whether or not we have a place to lay our heads. Let’s face it. “Hard” is a relative term. This past year has been hard for everyone. Yet while Jesus did not promise freedom from suffering He did promise peace. That peace is contingent on the bracketing.