Thursday, June 30, 2011

observations at a Mslm funeral

Jules*, so tough, yet so loyal, faithfully carrying her friend Natalie out of the mourning room, laying her on a matt and then settling herself just behind her friend, ready to serve her however she could next. Mama Natalie giving her daughter local medicine for grieving and ripping off branches and leaves to carefully hold over her grieving daughter, protecting her from the sun. It was Sara who had first came and called for Jules and Molly to carry Natalie out. The big sister caring for her follower, carefully watching over her. Molly, another seemingly tough one, and yet I find her crying at just the sight of others crying, she weeps with those who weep....but don't mess with her or her friends. 4 guys pass by carrying one women who is beside herself with grief, and shortly after another unconscious griever gets carried by. This is serious weeping, weeping with no hope, no assurance. The two Mary's keep quiet, ready to do what needs to be done, go get a matt, go get medicine for headache, go get whatever, and it's done. They don't know what happens when someone does. Do they go to heaven or hell or what?
Natalie grieved very hard. What started as gentle tears and soft gasps worked up into violent heaves and streaming tears. Unable to remove herself from before the body, this is when her faithful sister called for help with transport. Does she grieve because she's regretted things in the past? Grieve because her two young children are now fatherless, and she herself a widow at 33 years old? Grieve because she still loved the man though they had been separated for a couple years? Grieve because a young man's life was cut short, what had started with such potential ended so suddenly, Hepatitis took this man's life, slowly and yet so sudden. Does she grieve as one that missed the chance to share the Good News, having herself not committed to the Good News? Will she one day weep at the foot of the cross? I wish I could understand the language, speak the language. I wish I could offer words of encouragement, but as far as I know this man is in hell. And now it's too late. Maybe it's better that I can't communicate so well. Now the rain has started, somehow the way Natalie began crying, slowly, quietly and then increasing in volume and intensity. Our Lord is crying with her. Weeping with those who weep. He wants to give her hope. He wants her to know just how close He is, just how much He cares. He wants to reveal to her there's a better way. Oh Lord, let nothing hinder her heart from becoming fully devoted to you. A lady comes in late. Crying, shouting, what's she shouting? she's shouting, "What has the dead left for me?" Seems selfish.
*no real names were used, though the experience was all too real.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

angry and afraid=unwilling and distant

I've been back in Uganda now for nearly a month, but have only spent something like 5 days, maybe 6, in soroti. After I first arrived in Soroti, a few days later Jennifer (my housemate/teammate) became quite sick with malaria and had some other symptoms we weren't sure about so we went to kampala and jinja totaling being gone about a week. Then upon reaching soroti once again i had some 3 days before heading with a group of youth from the village, who have been affected by armed forces, to Jinja for a Father Heart Encounter weekend. After that weekend, I've stayed in Jinja for another week to help out that ministry ( by staying on the compound while the two leaders went to go do a training in Holland. Besides doing one bible study in the village and one father heart weekend I feel I haven't done much ministry since returning. i'm itching to get back to soroti and being able to follow up with youth again. But while staying at Mto Moyoni I know the Lord has some things to teach me and I am enjoying spending some much needed alone time with Him. hmm...this is already longer than i thought it would be...oh realized when I first started staying here I was avoiding time with my Father for some reason. I couldn't tell what it was, but I would do anything but get quiet with Him. I finally realized what I was doing and began asking Him to point out what the deal was? What thing had happened, or what was I thinking that I wanted to keep Him at a distance. We made some headway, over the next couple days I'm happy to say, but I think it was a compilation of many things. Anyway, this morning during my quiet time I was doing a bible study on David by Beth Moore and some of her cronies. She was taking me to the time just after Uzzah touches the ark of the Covenant, trying to steady it from falling off the cart, and God kills him. Here they were having great celebration bringing the ark, the very Presence of God back to their own people, and then God has to go and do something like kill the guy who was only trying to help. (but they shouldn't have been carrying it on a cart in the first place, but that's for another day...) Needless to say "Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah" (2 sam 6:8) and David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” (9) and so, "He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite" (10).
David was angry at God for what He had done and also afraid of Him and so he wanted to keep him at a distance. I think we could say he was offended by God somehow. I've never done this before, and I'm sure you haven't either....right... actually we do it all the time. God showed me through this bible study that that was how I was behaving. Some how He had offended me, i became angry and afraid of Him and decided to keep Him at a distance because it seemed safer that way...But like David was a man after God's heart, I want to be a woman after His heart. "Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing"(12). When David saw how being near God was a good thing, how it brought blessing, when he was reminded of God's faithfulness and goodness he longed again to be near God. And was again rejoicing as the presence of God came near. So today our loving Father was encouraging me to not get offended by the things He causes to happen, or allows to happen that don't make sense to me...instead...draw near. For it is our nearness to Him that is our good. God wants to be near to us, to struggle through things with us, but are we not willing? Let's be willing, He longs for us to return to Him with our whole heart. Thank you Father for this loving reminder to me this morning and forgive me for being offended by You, and thank you Beth Moore for serving the Lord through providing this study of scripture.