It makes no sense…

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Five months ago  I phoned the fire brigade. It took them a couple of weeks to arrive. Fortunately they were only cominIMG_0681g to fit two brand new smoke detectors free of charge rather than put out a fire. They spent well over half an hour telling us about fire safety and for the last 5 months I have dutifully close all the doors and check the stairs are clear before heading to bed.

Ten months ago I was here, in a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Blown away by these amazing people who were teaching around 100 children(50 girls one week, 50 boys the next – plus a live chicken that was in a box and being saved for dinner some day next week) about God’s love for them in a tiny wee room just off this alleyway. I stayed in Bangladesh for a month and was only able to visit this place twice. Still, it had a Mirpurmassive impact on me, I would go as far as saying it was transformational in helping me realise the abundance of wealth and resources we have in the West. It’s hard not to be affected by the poverty and destitution of Bangladesh with 83% of Bengalis living on less than $2 a day. And these people… they are the forgotten ones with so much less. No running water in their homes, precarious and dangerous electrical supply, no privacy with large families often sharing one small room for both living and sleeping. Food is cooked in pots in doorways. Life is up close and personal with a definite need to avoid disputes with your neighbours. That’s what made the kids club here so much more breath-taking… this beacon of light was shining for all to see as many passers by peered in or stopped to listen to the singing and laughter.

Last week a fire ripped through this slum and destroyed 200 homes. Mirpur3I am devastated for them. They had so little to start with, it doesn’t seem fair to take it away… again. Five years ago the same thing happened. Back then it was all made of tin and everything was licked up by the flames. With help from overseas they rebuilt their houses with bricks. It was supposed to be safer… an electrical fault in anWoman cries after she losing all of her belongings in a fire at a slum at Mirpur in Dhaka abandoned unit began this fire. Thankfully it was in the middle of the day and no one lost their life. If it had been at night, who knows the devastation that could have been caused. Where do you go in Bangladesh when no one wants you to begin with which is why you live in the slum in the first place? How do you start again? How do you feed you children? Where do you go to the toilet? Where do you sit down to even begin thinking about these things when you have no where to sit? Where were the four firemen and their fire engine five months ago to fit your two new smoke detectors so this wouldn’t happen, because your doors were closed and your stairways clear?

Without trying I know I can’t fit everything I own in my car. My possessions are spread throughout 6 rooms. I have multiple rooms. I have a car. And a wardrobe, and a set of mugs from Tesco, and a coat stand because I own more than one coat, and food in my cupboards…. and God. I have God, who promises He is in control even when the world seems upside down and unfair and totally confusing and broken. A friend comforted me recently with these words: “When all you have is Jesus, you realise He’s all you need.” But even in the midst of my suffering He wasn’t all I had… I had my car and my Tesco mugs and friends who helped and still help and so so much more that I totally undervalued. I am ashamed of all that I take for granted. These people really do have absolutely nothing material in this world and very few places to turn for help. Sometimes this world seems to make no sense…

I am from moving house and searching for home

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I was inspired to write this by:

SYNCHROBLOG: I Am From

I am from the constant drone of the television
Sylvanian families and making dinner in the deep fat fryer
I am from countless new beginnings, new houses, new friends
from the old stale smell of cigarettes and the green three-piece suite
the coffee table piled high with precariously balanced bundles of paper
I am from watching the A-team, the Waltons and John Wayne films
from the floor because the chairs are all taken

I am from a late revelation of the beauty of creation and love of pretty flowers
I am from building ‘dens’ in bushes and hoping in the safety of friendship
I’m from unpredictable emotions and short tempers
from family disputes and anxiety at family gatherings
from sausage suppers and secret diaries

I’m from stoic and unwavering love and care
and occasional bike rides and mystery tours

I am from moving house and searching for home
from the joy and comfort of clean bed linen
from countless photographs of faces no longer known
stored in a box under the stairs
from searching for meaning in all the wrong places
I’m from a testimony of love and patience
from cards and letters of encouragement and care
late night chats and tea and toast
un-repayable gifts of grace

I’m from hope and perserverance

The war is won, with or without me

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God has been challenging me to remember that He is in control, the story has already been told. Revelation tells us the battle has been won, death has been defeated. Jesus is risen and He is Lord in heaven and on earth. there is no worrying to be done.

There is nothing to fear. Only freedom to do what He has set before me, that which He has graciously given me to do. Allowing me, in His great love, to be a part of His kingdom. The war is won, with or without me. I can choose to serve in His Kingdom and enjoy fullness of life and abounding freedom and joy. Or I can opt out now and live for myself. Either way, God’s victory is secure. My efforts are not needed, they are enjoyed. That which I choose not to do (which is of God), the awesome, mighty Lord of the universe will accomplish regardless.

My involvement is purely about becoming more like Jesus. About being purified and cleansed inside and out. Becoming holy. Accepting the failures and mistakes of my sinful nature are redeemed in the loving sacrifice of Jesus and I am forgiven. My job is to live like I believe His promises, to live in the freedom and forgiveness, to love as I am loved.

My love for others is with a desire that they would open their lives to Him and allow His cleansing, sacrifice to bring them closer to God too. To know freedom and joy. To desire holiness and the hope of eternal life. To regret our selfish desires and instead desire justice, freedom and joy for others. To do everything possible within the authority we have over ourselves to help people see God’s great love for themselves, to ignite a desire of interest, not build walls of segregation.

To search our own hearts and inspect our own intentions. To look beyond broken, sinful actions and behaviour and see the intentions behind them in the lives of others.

Our goal and focus is God, not His work. Not making disciples or converts for Him. Not forcing His kingdom to come. Our aim is to choose to submit to His will and allow Him to work through us so we can enjoy being a part of that which He has already achieved.

Yahweh, Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done.

Today

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Yesterday I mourned
for the future that isn’t,
plans that will never be.
There is no hand to hold
in the midst of life’s storms
and the hope of God’s future plans.

Yesterday I stood,
not in lace to promise
compassion in health and sickness,
but in unfathomable peace
requesting help for eternal purposes
from servant hearts.

Yesterday for better or worse,
Pride’s darkest fear was realised
publicly.
I got it wrong.
Goodbyes of this era, overnight,
became timid ‘See you soons’.
Humilty breathes new li
fe, daily.

Today Time’s healing hand

brings comfort and understanding.
Seedling plans have blossomed
into glorious bouquets
of possibility and excitement
hope and purpose.

But today I miss my friend
who knew the deepest reaches
of my mind and heart,
And who cannot share
my unspeakable joy,
today.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3v1

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. [Henry David Thoreau]

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I met You tonight. You were the compassion in an acquaintance. I talked to you a few days ago. You were the interest and advice, I needed but did not want to listen to or follow, of a dear friend.

A few Saturday’s ago we had breakfast together. You were the innocence, joy and inquisitive mind of an eleven month old. You were the intelligence, grace and gentleness of old friends.

You made me tea and cinnamon bread a few months ago. You were the red head with the crazy sense of humour and earth shattering wisdom all in one breath.

We put the world to rights a few weeks ago, You and I: in a joyful morning of muffins, tea and shared experiences, in the stolen moments of a brief Skype call, in the unexpected luxury of a two hour phone call.

You are the joy of caring for an elderly parent. Staying strong and loving through the confusion and sleepless nights.

You were in the moment when I sat beside a searching soul, when I asked questions and was humbled by the answers. You are the banter of the café worker. You’re the person who asks, ‘How are you?’ and wants the real answer. You made me scones before a dentist appointment and filled my mind with wonder and awe at the simplicity, that I’ve missed for so many years, in living, really living in Your presence and in Your word.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7v8

When I couldn’t see You, You revealed yourself to me.

Love and Thanksgiving

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I’ve never really been in pain, proper all out physical pain. I broke my teeth 20 years ago falling of my bike, but it was a long time ago. I think the adrenaline and shock masked a lot of the pain and the years have forgotten the rest.

I fought with my brother growing up, but again, it was so long ago I don’t remember how it hurt. I’ve sprained ankles, bruised hips, been hit by hockey balls, fallen and grazed knees, I broke a toe the day before my graduation, I’ve had stomach bugs and flu which has left my body aching all over. I’ve had tension headaches, hang nails and my fair share of heartache.

At the time the pain was all consuming. I could think of nothing else.

The last week or so I’ve been praying for insight into what it was like for Jesus on the cross, for understanding of what it meant for You to send Your Son to die for me, an unworthy sinner who regularly forgets Your sacrifice, repeats the same mistakes, often intentionally, who places too much focus and value on my own life, expectations and ideas and not enough on Yours.

I feel inexperence in true pain and find it hard to understand the hugeness of Your gracious sacrifice.

I’m not asking to experience pain and suffering in order to gain a glimpse of what You did on the cross. What I could endure would not be selfless anyway. It would reek of self pity, of hatred for the causes of it, a selfish yearning for it to be over as quickly as possible – regardless of what is acheived when it is finished.

I would hide away my suffering at the time and pretend it’s not so bad. There would be no victorious standing on a hill top. I would complain about my lot, about the cup I’d been given, searching for ways to dull the pain and make it less difficult. I’d want everyone to know how much pain I had been in and soak up the sympathy. My story would be embellished for dramatic effect, to gain support for the injustice of it all.

You gave up Your life for people who didn’t care. You suffered in agony for me. You were tortured and humilated to redeem all that I have done and will do, even the intentional stuff.

Father, I am totally incapable of comprehending the depth of Your pain or the depth of Your love…

Psalm 136v1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.

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Philippians 4v8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I wanted to bath in the anger and resentment. I wanted revenge for the injustices and bitterness began to take hold. It gave me energy. Adrenaline flowed through every blood vessel and made my fingers tingle. My mind became focused and vocal. It screamed the things I wanted to say. It played out all the possible ways I could make my point of view known. And then You spoke to me: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

It wasn’t enough. I wanted blood. Justice my way. You replied: When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I didn’t care. I wanted to throw anything I could get my hands on.

Then I heard You: “Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog s***.”

The beauty of the park to come to mind. I began to think on the lovely, pure, noble and admirable things, on the excellent and praiseworthy.

My heart is calmer, my fingers do not bristle with electricity flowing through them. My head does not scream unspoken words. I wish I could say I don’t still think those words.  I wish I could say that I only think about the lovely and praiseworthy things You have done in my life. I wish I could look up and stay focused on Your beauty and creation. Your healing is coming and You are with me in the meantime.