"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord..." Psalm 19:14

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Now I know.

In just one year...

I have seen the sun rise over the Himalayas…and swam with the sea turtles of Hawaii…and danced alongside Nepali friends…and ziplined through the jungles of Thailand…and sailed around the mountainous islands of Halong Bay in Vietnam.

…Our God is a God who creates in beauty and majesty.

I have heard the stories of a God who sends His people to a hurting world, who redeems trafficked women, who rescues the prisoners, who brings orphans to a long-awaited home.

…Our God is a God who delivers the broken, the hurting, the lonely – and He uses His people to do it.

I have felt the embrace of friends I just met, been lifted by prayers said across the ocean, and worshiped with brothers and sisters of different tongues and cultures.

Our God is a God who binds us in unity and calls us each his children.

I have eaten rubutan and dragon fruit, and curry of every color. I’ve shopped at the markets, and in the eight-story malls, and on the bustling streets. I’ve ridden planes to new continents, taxis, buses, and tuk-tuks in Bangkok rush hour, and even trains, boats and subways too. I have missed flights due to flat tires, and late-arriving visas, and almost due to an overweight suitcase. I have missed school due to flooding, and due to an H1N1 outbreak, and even due to political unrest.

Our God is a God who provides….graciously and abundantly.

I have heard the voice of God in the quiet of my sleep, and I’ve felt the hand of God when letting go was just too hard, and I’ve tasted the goodness of God through the gift of rich relationships.

Our God is a God who pursues us with extravagant love.

Join me in worshiping our God, for He is worthy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

things we never talk about

I think one of Satan's greatest tactics is to get God's people, or anybody really, to avoid pressing issues and difficult questions. He keeps us from thinking about deep things when we're alone, and he keeps us from talking about deep things when we're together. He makes us feel awkward...or ridiculous...or downright crazy. I mean, think about how many times in a day you stop yourself from saying or doing something simply because you're afraid of how people will respond, or you stop yourself from thinking something, because you don't know where those thoughts will take you. The flow of culture and the social pressures we face have such a powerful hold on us.

It reminds me of that part in C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, when the guy is sitting in a museum (I think?) and begins to wonder about life and God and all the things that really matter. But then, suddenly, he remembers he's hungry, and there ends the pursuit for truth. Later, he says. When I'm not so hungry or when I have more time. He exchanges thoughts on eternal matters...for thoughts on cheeseburgers. Good grief.

Really, though, it makes sense, right? Of course we face the most resistance when thinking about or talking about the things that really matter.

Even as I write this, I must admit, I'm a little nervous. What if I say something that makes people feel awkward, or makes me look like a fool? And, call me crazy, but that right there tells me it's something that probably needs to be said.

You see, I think this kind of fear runs far deeper than we realize. And, I think, it's often the thing that keeps us from experiencing God more deeply and from seeing real, authentic fellowship. Sometimes I feel so attached to the "social norm" of Christianity that when God asks me to think outside of that box, or challenges me to do something different, I'm tempted to just say no. Oh God, doesn't that seem too "radical"? Will I be understood? And really, what will people think? But then, I am cut to the heart, and I realize that I, too, am exchanging the eternal for foolish and fleeting alternatives. Okay, maybe not for cheeseburgers this time, but for the approval of others, or for the sake of fitting in, or to simply protect my own reputation.

I hate the thought of people not understanding me. It's like the worst. But if that's the thing keeping me from deeper intimacy with God, then it'll have to go.

Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you wonder these same things? What is God calling you to think about, or say, or do that doesn't quite fit into the "social norm"? Maybe you're supposed to consider questions you don't know the answers to, or maybe it's all about bringing up conversations that might make people feel uncomfortable, or maybe, you're just meant to stand when everyone around you is sitting.

Whatever it is, you're really being asked to defy the lies of the Enemy and to take a risk of faith, whether other people get it....or not.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

unanswered questions

A strange sight: empty streets of Bangkok after Wednesday night's curfew time of 8pm
(photo compliments of Bangkok Post).

Wow, what a week it's been here in Bangkok! Just a little recap for those I haven't talked to:

...School was canceled Monday and Tuesday, as the downtown protests escalated and the army got more involved in the crack-down.

...Wednesday, we continued with school, but by the end of the day, our classes had dwindled to a handful of students -- mainly the kids who live closer to the school where it's still relatively safe.

...Now, school has been canceled for the rest of the week. At first it seemed a little strange, since yesterday afternoon the protests finally were broken up and many Red Shirt leaders surrendered. But soon after the announcement, we started hearing rumors of fires. Turns out some Red Shirt radicals (or others?) decided to torch several buildings in the city.

...All of the area banks and malls closed Wed. afternoon. Then, a curfew on the whole city of Bangkok was announced for the evening, from 8pm to 6am.

...Several prominent buildings have been set on fire (none particularly close to us, though some of them we visit often). One of the best malls we have in the city -- and one of the largest malls in Asia -- was completely destroyed by the flames. It's unbelievable. (This mall was already empty and has been closed for weeks, because it was very close to the protest site.)

...Things are pretty quiet now, and the curfew will continue for the next few days, just in case.

So that's the latest. Now, what do I think of all this? I wish I knew.

I feel really sad for Thailand. But it's a deep kind of sad that I don't even really understand. I feel like something very monumental happened yesterday, but there's no way for me to grasp what it all means. I want to walk in the unwavering hope and joy of knowing that God surely is moving among us and is doing great things here even though it doesn't look like it. But I also want to honor the loss and sadness of the Thai people who call this place home, for it seems the face of Thailand has changed forever.

And through all of this, even deeper questions have come to challenge my heart. What do we pray for, as we pray for the nations and ask for God's will to be done among us? What do we hope for, as we live in a broken world, and as eternity awaits us? What does it look like to follow Jesus whole-heartedly -- all barriers removed -- and to be broken for the things He is broken for, to love what He loves? Maybe most people never really know, this side of heaven.

And the most haunting question, do I want to know?

*See more photos from yesterday's events at this link: http://www.vaitor.com/?p=1686