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Archive for May, 2013

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“Lai Lai! Hello! Come!”

Eager hands grasped at my suitcases and tugged on my arm, yelling their offers of assistance. The taxi from the East Asian airport had dumped me within view of the train station with my two 70 lb. suitcases, one rolling carry-on, and a backpack – all stuffed to the limit with gifts and teaching supplies. But as soon as I stepped out of the taxi, I was bombarded by eager porters and pedi-cab drivers. Finally I gave in and accepted the help of a bicycle-pedaled cart.

Loaded down with multiple bags and one weary traveler, the cart wove between speeding taxis, fleets of bicycles, and crowds of pedestrians. Closing my eyes, I tried not to think about the seemingly inevitable collisions.

Miraculously, we made it across the busy street unharmed. The hair-raising trip had taken just a few minutes. Thankful to be safely at my destination, I pulled out a couple of bills from my wallet to pay.

“Bu, bu, bu!” The driver shook his head vehemently. Apparently there was a misunderstanding. I thought he’d said 2.5 Yuan, but he’d asked for 250 Yuan! In my town in the northeast, 2 Yuan would get you anywhere you wanted to go on the bicycle-pedaled carts. But 250, just for taking me across the street?? That was a rip-off!

He wouldn’t budge, no matter how much I protested. Soon a curious crowd gathered, shouting encouragement to the driver. “That’s right! Tell her! Don’t let this foreigner get away!”

Physical and emotional weariness from the long hours of travel and very little sleep were making me cranky and irritable. I couldn’t believe that no one would help me or defend me. Finally I snapped. Angrily I threw the 250 Yuan at the driver and stormed off.

Tears streaming, I stumbled over the broken pavement, lugging my heavy suitcases. Looking around desperately, all I could see were Asian faces. All the signs were in Mandarin. I couldn’t even tell if I was in the right place. For all I knew, the taxi driver and the pedi-cab driver had taken me to the wrong place. How would I ever find my train?

There was nothing to do but sit down and cry. A few of the hurrying travelers stopped briefly to gawk at this bedraggled American girl, collapsed on a pile of suitcases in the middle of the pavement, bawling her eyes out. But no one stopped to ask what was wrong or to help. I felt so utterly alone.

“Are you OK?” The voice sounded like it was in a German or Dutch accent. But it was in ENGLISH! Looking up, I saw a tall, blond young man.

“No, I’m not OK!” I sniffled, wiping at my nose with the back of my hand. I poured out my whole story to him, ending with, “And I don’t even know if I’m in the right place! I can’t find the entrance to the train station!”

He smiled gently and pointed over my shoulder. “But it’s right behind you.” Surprised, I turned around to see a very clear entrance just a few feet from where I was sitting. How had I missed it earlier?

“Thank you so much!” I turned back to my new friend… But he was gone. He had been there, standing right in front of me, now he’d completely disappeared! I scanned the crowd, but there was no sign of a tall blond man in the sea of Asian faces.

Was it an angel? Or had he just melted into the crowd? Whoever it was, I knew with great certainty that God had sent him to me. At my moment of desperation and helplessness, my loving Heavenly Father had given me a reminder that I am never alone. He is watching me. He sees me in my distress. He is able to rescue me. And He will do the same for you.

Going Vertical!
MJ

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
Psalm 18:6 (NIV)

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Catherine’s Story

Have you ever felt like you’re getting the consolation prize in life? You know how the winner on those old TV game shows would get some fabulous prize like a trip to Hawaii and the losers would get a blender?

I will confess to you, for a long time I thought that people who were joyful over God’s hope must be cut from a different cloth than me. Maybe they were just naïve, or more spiritual than me. Or maybe they just had nothing in this life they were hoping for, and so hope in God was all they had. I decided, subconsciously, that God’s brand of hope was kind of the consolation prize for people who lose.

Recently I found out that a dear friend of mine is expecting. She and her husband had struggled with infertility and had basically given up hope, and she is near the end of her childbearing years, and so this was an unexpected thrill for both of them. Now, I will tell you I am thrilled for them, but when she told me, for a moment I was nearly overcome with pain and sadness.

In my own life, a deep grief has been not being able to bear children. I got my hope of finding a wonderful man. But the hope of children, at least in the natural, wasn’t fulfilled. And I have grieved over that.

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). Heart-sick means crushed in spirit. Have you ever felt like your spirit was crushed? God understands this and He is there to comfort us in times of heart ache and grief. It says in Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

I thought I had dealt with my own loss a long time ago. But when I heard that my friend is expecting, I found myself saying, “God, that’s great what you did for my friend, but what about me? Why did I get passed over?”

And right at that time, I sensed His Spirit saying, “are you sure that’s not still what you think I am, the ‘consolation prize’?”

I wrestled with Him over that in my heart, for the better part of a day until I was finally able to say, “Lord, You are not the consolation prize, You are the only real prize. And You love me, and Your plan is perfect. I will put my hope in You.” And His peace flooded over me again.

Your situation may be entirely different than mine. We each have our own blessings and gifts, and we each have our own challenges and griefs. But God can meet us where we are, when we’re honest with Him, and He can fill us fresh with His hope.

David said in Psalm 42:11, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” That is living in His hope. We can have hope, because we have a God we can trust.

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, Bella apologized for her tears. “I’m sorry for unloading on you. It’s just been so hard recently.”

Two miscarriages in the last few months had left her raw. And as the wife of someone in church leadership, it seemed she had no one to talk to about it. “Unless you’ve lost a baby, you can’t understand how how much it hurts,” Bella explained. “And well-meaning people can say such insensitive things.”

All I could do was listen and cry with her. “It’s so hard to trust God in all of this,”
Bella confided before we said goodbye. “But I just have to believe that He’s doing something good in me in the process.”

Here’s the rest of the story, in Bella’s own words.

I hit bottom on my first baby’s due date. I felt so discouraged. Nine months, two lost babies, and still empty-handed. And now I was scared that not only would I have to deal with losses, but would I now have to deal with infertility again?

I remember one day having a very honest conversation with the Lord. I told Him that I was angry, frustrated, and tired. I felt that I was coming to a place where this burden of pain and loss was more than I could bear. I wanted this season of pain to be over. And I told Him I was so disappointed that I didn’t get pregnant, and to please have mercy on me.

And in that moment I felt His presence so strong with me. I heard Him tell me to just hang on a little longer, that this season would soon be over, and that He was holding me by my hand and would not let me go. I also felt Him say that I didn’t conceive because He was answering the very thing I had asked Him, and that was to not allow it to happen until it was His time. But then I heard Him say that my time was coming very soon and to just be patient.

I felt such a peace come over me about having another baby and the timing. Even the way I felt about the babies I lost… God gave me such a peace about that. There is no way to explain what He did. It was completely effortless on my part. I just felt different. I felt such a healing work from the Lord. It was like although He knew already what I was feeling and thinking, I needed to be honest with Him and myself first.

That night that we spoke, I didn’t know yet, but a few days later I found out that I am expecting again! Naturally I am nervous, but I must say that I feel different than with the last pregnancies I lost, especially the second one. With that second one I lost, I was in a constant state of anxiety, panic, and worry. I knew something was wrong, and I felt completely helpless to save my baby.

So here I am now, expecting again. Hopeful, but cautious. I know I have a long road ahead of me before I can feel completely at ease about whether this baby will make it. But I am trusting in the Lord. I know He is with me.

Do you have a secret pain? A private grief? Your secret pain doesn’t have to consume you. Give it to Him today. Let Him hold you and give you His peace in the midst of it. And trust Him to do something good in you and through you in the process.

Going Vertical!
MJ

“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

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