Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Dream and Its Fruit

I had a dream that on my wall was a living mural -- moving images of mighty hands holding back the waters of the Jordan, a shepherd boy becoming a king, a pregnant virgin, tongues of fire, and multitudes of souls hailing the worthy Lamb.

Etched across the scene were four words:

"Do you doubt Me?"


There is a major difference between the children who have been satisfied by His love and those who haven't.

The ones who have are content, and love flows from them.

The ones who haven't are ravenous, and they devour one another for the slightest bit of loving attention.

One example of this happened yesterday at a leper colony in a busy section of Delhi.

I walked in with four of my friends and was swooned away by three or four girls to the very back of the colony. Christ in me was shining and I knew it.

I would be foolish to not say that the only reason they run to me as they do is because of Christ in me. Didn't He say to let the children come? And come they do! I refuse to believe that it is because I have light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes, or because I "have a way" with kids...which is always relatively determined. It's just Jesus. They see something in Him that makes them come running. They know they are safe with Him.

I also would like to mention that the children here -- especially the begging ones -- are often yelled at and considered a nuisance to society. I imagine that it may have been the same when He told His disciples to just let them come.

Anyway -- there I was, in the middle of bustling Delhi at the back of a leper colony. Men worked the dusty ground behind us. A train passed not many yards away. The highway nearby was easily seen and very easily heard. The sun shone from the Brittany-blue sky and puffy white clouds made my heart happy. I was the only white person in sight, and I really loved that. What I didn't love was how the girls (the number had grown to 7 at this point) hit each other with all their might and pushed each other out of the way to have my full attention.

Their hearts are ravenous for love. They want what I have. I want them to have what I have. So much. It would change everything for them.

They wanted to dance. I showed them some dances and they returned the favor. I ballroom danced with some of them, spinning them around and enjoying the sight of their smile.

One of the girls kept stopping to hold her temples. Her face was etched with pain. I got eye-level with her and prayed for her on my knees while the world zoomed around us and the wind blew our hair. I prayed for her heart to be filled with His love. I prayed in Jesus' name for her pain to cease.

And I prayed for them to slap me instead of each other, just so I could kiss them back. Such love He has shown me.

It didn't happen, but I kissed them anyway.

We spun around -- the kind of spinning where you are facing each other, all four hands locked into a grip that is trusted to keep one or the other from flinging out of the force that intensifies as the spinning gets faster. (I love doing that.)

They made my chunni into a small sari and pulled me ruthlessly in all directions, sometimes simultaneously. They taught me Hindi phrases and I still have no idea what I repeated back to them. I smiled deep into them all and kissed their hands after they used them to hit each other. I prayed and prayed and prayed as I let them take me where they would, and I never knew which way to choose when I was being pulled in two or three different directions. I just wanted them.

I put one girl's hair up with the elastic band on my wrist. I imagined her being adorned with His righteousness and told her in Hindi that she is so beautiful.

There was a woman with leprosy sitting on a ledge nearby. I greeter her and held her hand for a while, smiling into her soul with His love and power. I kissed her head and hands and just sat in silence with her while the girls had stopped tugging on me. When they began again, I kissed her again, and let them lead me wherever they wished.

I was beaming with a smile the whole time. Just resting. Just being. Just letting Him love me and love them. Enjoying His restorative, gracious Self.

I adore Jesus so much. I saw Him in their eyes, staring back at me.

There is nothing like that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Favorite Part of my Favorite Story

Matthew 27:66-28:20

Men conspired against Him even when His body was in the grave.

The Pharisees were still fearing Him. They doubted His power and had strong men make the stone on His tomb as secure as they knew how. Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene watched the sealing of His grave, mourning and treasuring Him in their broken hearts.

A few days later, they came again to look at His grave, much the way we do to this day. But the earth shook that day, and an angel descended from heaven without any earthly disguise. The angel rolled away the "securely placed" stone and sat on it. Sitting...because it was finished. Sitting on the object that man used to try to keep Him in the grave.

But heaven came down and made earth's strongest barriers as nothing. He SAT on the stone, shaming the enemy as if to say, "In your face!" The enemy's strongest weapon had just been snapped in half.

The guards of the tomb fainted from fear. But the angel that so terrified the guards told the women not to fear. He then proceeded to tell them that he knew their heart's intention: To see Jesus' body.

They were about to see it. They just had no idea that they would see His body upright and fully alive, walking and talking and breathing again.

I want to get inside their hearts for a minute. I wonder if they doubted what Jesus said. I wonder if they clung to hope or submitted to despair. I wonder if they were trying to find a way to live like they did before Jesus came into their lives. I wonder if they slept or ate much.

I wonder if they believed that evil had won.

And there they were -- with their eyes wide with shock and their faces probably still stained with tears -- standing in full view of an angel who was telling them that the Man they love so much had risen from the dead and was about to SEE them.

Mary had experienced angels before. She knows they do not lie. One came to her when she became pregnant with the Messiah. How great of a song she must have sung upon hearing the news of His living after being a witness of His dying!

And so they ran -- with their hearts leaking with fear and joy, trembling and exulting with every breath. When they were on their way to tell His disciples what they had heard with their ears, Jesus met them along the way and let them see Him with their eyes. And then they grabbed hold of His tangible feet with their tangible hands and worshiped the Man who was so dear to them. And what did He say?

After greeting them (literally saying, "Hello"), He said, "Do not be afraid."

He spoke straight to the fear that had fueled their dread for the days that His body lie limp in the grave.

His following words were so perfectly timed. He told them where and who to go to. He told them to tell His brothers that they would get to see Him too. Do you see the tender love and hope in that?

Something very interesting: While all of this was happening, the chief priests lied about what happened to Him. They came up with a story about how the disciples were to blame for the empty tomb. Why? They wanted to save themselves from punishment. But they didn't realize the punishment that His death and resurrection had just paid for.

EVEN THOUGH these lies were spreading, Jesus didn't send His people to them to straighten things out. Instead He gathered them on a mountain in Galilee. When He was seen, He was worshiped. Simply. To the ones who doubted the incredulousness of it all, He said that He had all authority in heaven and on earth. It was really Him. He was really God. He really did just walk out of that tomb.

And then He told them to go -- because of His all-surpassing power and authority. He promised the very thing every flock would want to hear: He said He would be with them always. Any fear of lacking direction from there on out was alleviated when He spoke. He promised to lead them.

Something beautiful: He told them to go to every nation. That was the mystery revealed. Every nation could be grafted in. No more foreigners or slaves. Only sons and daughters and heirs of every good thing God had ever promised.

"By revelation there was made known to me the mystery...revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."
Ephesians 3:3-6

"When the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. The peoples will take them along and bring them to teir place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the Lord as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors."
Isaiah 14:1-2

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There is, there are.

There is a moment that happens when the begging ones put away their tin cups and receive.

There is a before-and-after that trademarks the life of a weathered widow who no longer hides her face in her shawl before four foreign women who long to give her some of the Bread they have been feasting on.

There is a relief that happens when the accused woman is told that she is welcome and wanted at the table with the feast. There is disbelief when she hears that it was prepared just for her.

There is healing in the heart of the precious one who could never repay the abundance that has been -- and will be -- lavished on her.

There are tears that fall from the faces of the broken and healed alike. There is an exchange of brokenness and healing as the whole one weeps for the downtrodden and the broken breathes the fresh air of restoration.

There is a miracle that takes place every time a begging one walks away without what she was searching for, but is visibly transformed by an invisible satisfaction.

There is nothing in this world that could compare to the mystery of this radical, passionate love expressed to me through death so that I might know Eternal Life -- He Himself, Who was, Who is, and Who will be my Love. Forever.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Heart, Happy Feet

It's been a whale of a week.

My tendency to dance, jump, prance around, and do handstands against the wall have been increasing lately. My heart has been so full of worship and awe and I can't contain the joy that He lets me in on by letting know Him. And more than that, He has been letting me in on the things He is doing around me and I don't even know what to do with myself anymore. He is wholly worthy and so much praise is due Him for His constant goodness and graciousness to us.

This, written intentionally out of order, is the week that I have had:

A few days ago, an anonymous donor gave me $1,000. Whoever you are, you are an answer to prayer.

The other night we received word that $4,309 was donated for a slum church that Sarah (one of the women I am Living with here) has been raising since the beginning of this year. And how much did we need? $4,300. Slam. Dunk. Jesus.


There are hopes and plans (Inshallah) for a building in the slums to be completed while we are here. The believers don't really have a meeting place anymore and there has been a lot more trouble than usual for the Christians there. More than we want there to be a building, we want there to be a revival. Not a revival of emotions or commitments that fall on rocky soil but a revival that calls the dead out of their graves, being set ablaze with abundant life for the union of His glory and their/our joy. So be it.

Deep breath...

Thursday we visited friends at a leper colony with whom we spent time in back in the fall of '09. We were embraced with joy and orange soda as we sat with some of the most childlike people I have met. They remind me of true royalty. I see Jesus in them...right in front of me.

Tuesday we visited friends at another leper colony. I was amazed -- the kind that caused my jaw to hang low -- when I saw that they remembered me. And more than that, my closest friend there brought me a picture of her and myself that was taken almost two years ago. It was in a small photo album that had her family photos, wedding photos, and photos of a few white people -- including me. It was strangely humbling to hear that she has prayed for me every day...and to hear that she has been asking God to bring me back to see her "once more." My favorite part, though, was when I asked her if her husband was still Hindu. She smiled and said, "No, he is Christian now. My whole family is Christian now!"

Later that day we encountered begging girls who approached us for chipati and money, neither of which we had to give them. We wanted to give them ourselves; we wanted to give them Jesus. So we did. We held their hands and walked around with them and clothed their naked feet with new shoes. We taught them silly songs and watched Kingdom come as He transformed their begging into laughing and satisfied them in such a way that they did not ask us for anything more. I saw myself in them. I saw Jesus in them. To behold Him at all is to Live. I was made for that.

Sunday morning we returned to Asha House. My soul! My soul, my soul, my soul. We walked in that gate and five of the kids were standing in a line with garlands of marigolds in their hands. One by one they placed them on our necks. We had to bend low for them to reach us. Our first interaction with them this time was on our knees. That seems so fitting to me. Let the children COME!

I cried tears of joy to see them again. Each of them hugged each of us and said, quietly but with a smile, "Good morning, Auntie." Seeing their faces and hearing their voices and getting to reach out and touch them sent me overboard. So I just cried and laughed and hugged and praised the One Who let me experience such a beautiful homecoming. And there's more where that came from. He promised. :)

Yesterday the kids gave me a name. They picked a name for me: Small Auntie. Or, in Hindi, Chorta Auntie. I was hiding with one of them behind a door in the lunch/church/school room and the others saw and told on me...they kept referring to the space behind the door and saying, "Small Auntie...Chorta Auntie..."

It is a beautiful thing to love and be loved.

There is so much more that has happened and is happening. I wanted to share the short version of it all. And also this, which has been fascinating me:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host...He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast...Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. for our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.

From Psalm 33

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Note to Self

I have to warn you. This will be one of those blogs where I don't have any idea what I'm going to say until it is typed. I'm interested to see what will come out.

Each day is a season in itself over here. The past day alone has been so memorable. Leper colonies. Old friends. Death. Life. Tears of sorrow and joy. Power outages that bring us closer together. Watching Him teach children how to add and read. Dancing. Sweating. Laughing. Laughing. Laughing. Washing dishes with all my heart. Doing laundry outside around chickens. Marveling at the blue sky over this city when I thought there was a permanent haze of pollution. Carrying a full heart within my chest. Full beyond my capacity. Surely I have a delightful inheritance. Surely it is Christ ALONE.

2:50 AM. I got sidetracked. But it was a glorious sidetracking. I'll leave you with this note to self that I quickly wrote earlier today in the taxi to Asha:

"Note to self:

Don't use that which God intended for your increased worship of Him as an object of worship or hoarding or an excuse to not follow Him in a direction that seems AWAY from that which He so clearly caused you to desire. It's all an important part of the same journey. Hold desire with an open hand and entrust it to the One who so graciously gave it to you, that He might show you and the world around you more of His incredible heart.

A place of surrender...

Do not be afraid to follow Him North when what you desire is South. Because if you go far enough North, it will eventually take you South. But even if it doesn't...

He's STILL going to give you the desires of your heart. He promised! He made you a promise and He doesn't go back on those.

See the mystery revealed: Delighting in Him IS the desire of your heart. He is mighty, jealous and gracious about this. He pursues like a lion and embraces like a lamb.

You just can't lose. His victory is that you can't lose. You're going to love what happens no matter what. I am sure of it. Your joy will overflow NOW if you rest in this certainty before these glories can be seen. Luke 1:45!

Be loved. Love. Be. Jesus is all around and richly within you. Is there really any difference between loving Him and loving those around you? I think not. Selah."