Shaking things up



Here once the Deluge plowed,
Laid the terraces, one by one;
Ebbing later whence it flowed,
They bleach and dry in the sun.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, My Garden



The sun-bleached images of late winter wash over my soul and reveal the new structure God has built in the last few months.  New terraces for hope and solace.  New supports for faith and fear - the good kind of fear, the fear that is awe of the Holy.  I am pondering Haiti, and disasters, and what they tell us about the face of the God we cannot see.  What does it mean to be planted in a prosperous culture, and what is our burden as Christians...even as people with humanity and empathy...to do for those who suffer great losses with few resources for recovery?



The mass grave I visited in El Salvador comes to mind in strobe-like flashes, images I'll never get rid of.  I remember the late night up watching the personal video one parishioner shot as they attempted to dig his wife and son out of the rubble.  I remember how deeply I felt how little I had to offer, despite my training and prosperity and faith.  The incalculable loss still weighs heavy.  I remember open fractures I feebly tried to cast four months after the fact.  I remember gangrene, and pain, and a woman with a baby inside her swollen abdomen that had been dead for at least a month.  My body hasn't carried those burdens.  It's quite possible it never will.  But I carry the burdens of all those people in my soul, in my mind.  Turning them over like confusing little stones I've picked up along the way, stones I can't fathom the origin of, stones I can't find a place for in my brain.  I have no way to categorize or make sense of tragedy on this scale.



We are fundraising, in February, to support a mission team from our city that will make several trips to provide medical care to the Haitians.  I would have gone, in years past.  Now I will work hard with other talents to send others.  It's a hard thing to do, because I so desire to go with.  Anyone who has known the exponential spiritual growth and level of connection with God that mission work sometimes brings will understand why.  Yet right now He calls me to be faithful at home.

How to face the Creator who spared but one family from the great flood?  The Creator who leveled Sodom and Gommorah, and followed through on His promise to turn any one who looked back into a pillar of salt?  What questions could I possibly bring to the Throne regarding Haiti, when that Throne issued the downfall of countless cities and tells us to watch for famines and earthquakes as His return grows near?  Some days, I distinctly dislike serving the awesome God I serve.  I wish He were a little less awesome, a little less flamboyant, a little less sure of Himself.  A little less "God" and a little more human.  I remember thinking the same thing about my parents in my teens - "seriously, can you tone it down a bit guys?  You're embarrassing me here!"  But that is the very thing that demands my respect, demands my praise.  God doesn't apologize for who He is.  He is not a cuddly teddy bear God.  He is a just God who will do whatever it takes to draw a sinful creation back in for the hug you're afraid to accept.  For me, the tug on my heart is to worship and repent.  The tug is also to remember that my days - and the days of us all - are not numbered by us; they are numbered by God, and we know from the recorded history of man that they are, indeed, like a vapor (James 4:14).  My head is spinning today as I contemplate this nugget I came across on the Mars Hill blog:  Do you presume on the riches of His kindness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  (Romans 2:4)  As I contemplate Haiti and all the disasters that have come to pass just in my lifetime alone, it is hard to say I believe in a merciful, loving God.  My only answer is that I know in my heart it is true, it breathes of the deepest truth, deep down in the soul.  Yet, ...my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:8)

I am seriously thinking of switching us to rice and beans for a few weeks in honor of the Haitians and their traditional diet, now forced by poverty.  We'd probably save a few hundred dollars to donate. We'll see what my husband - the carnivore of the family - has to say about that! Anyone want to join me, and put the proceeds to Samaritan's Purse?