Tag Archives: God

These Days

These days are bright with heat, the humid, sultry weight of unreleased rain weighing down on us each morning. In the afternoon, clouds pile up high above the mountain, with the occasional growl of thunder punctuating the brooding heat. These days the skies are mostly clear of the insidious smog that covered our lives and souls in March, and in the evening, after the dusk rolls in, the skies release their rain. Each night we go to bed with the drumbeat of hope beating on our roofs—and in our hearts.

And why should we hope? Why should we dare to give life to this wild thing beating in our hearts, that gives way to the ridiculous, the kind of dreaming that leads to walking on water? Do not we know that walking on the water is unacceptable for bipeds of our kind?

But while hope seems to contradict every circumstance we face, it is conditioned in us. The very threads of our being are made up of hope. When we breathe, each breath that we inhale and each breath that we exhale are breaths of hope. Why else would we do something that borders insanity, this continuing to live and breathe in a broken world, except our bodies hoped? Why else do we continue to flip the light switch even after we realize the light is no longer working? Why else would we scan the skies with furrowed brows, unless our lives were not conditioned to hope?

When that hope is gone, life fades.

Hope is not optimism. Hope is not positive thinking. It is something stronger and frailer, more powerful and more delicate than we could ever imagine. It is rooted, planted into our hearts at birth, but without nurture it is like the succulent that my friend gave me–withered and dead, because I forgot to water it.

I faced days, dark days years ago, when I lived one day at a time, one hour at a time, on feet that dragged heavy. In the evening I would lay my head down and cry until I was exhausted–without knowing why. Now, I can look back and see some reasons for the darkness, but at the time I was only confused and tired, looking at the next day and dreading the thought of facing it. Hope was something I could only dimly make out, and I clung to the remaining threads I had. Friends walked with me. I scoured my Bible. I journaled. I talked with my dad. I held on tight to words that brought light.

And the light returned slowly. There were some physical changes, some emotional changes, some spiritual changes. We are people that are knit together tightly and our physical can affect our spiritual and our spiritual can affect our emotional and all the other ways around. Somehow that hope that flickered began burning brighter and brighter.

Hope hurts. It’s such a ridiculous thing. There have been so many times that I’ve seen my hope knocked to the ground, bruised and bleeding. I usually look at it and say, see I told you!

But I’ve met some people who keep on hoping against reality, who live with unfulfilled dreams, who hope for more despite the pain; those people are some of the most beautiful people I know. They live life with a deep, quiet rest, a trust that speaks of something more inside even while pain is mirrored in their eyes. They have hearts that have been ripped wide open, and perhaps never sewn fully shut. But they are strong and quiet and wise.

And I want to be like that.

These days the sun is bright and the heat is oppressive, but hope comes to us at night when the rain chatters on the roof and the wind gathers up fistfuls of the scent of green. We sleep the sleep of those who remember the days of darkness and rest in the new life that each droplet brings, knowing that the Maker of the seasons is also the Maker of hope.

Memorial: A Story of Answered Prayer

I feel like I live life on the tip of an iceberg.

Meaning, I live my life with the constant feeling that there is more to life than what I am experiencing.

Not too long ago, I journaled this, sitting beside the river one Sunday afternoon.

“Why does it feel at times like I am so alive and vibrantly living, then the next moment I can see, hear or feel nothing, like I am standing in front of a darkened glass, knocking and shouting and pleading for a glimpse into something I know is there, something deeper and fuller and richer than even the most fulfilled life in this world?”

I feel like my experience with prayer has been like this. Prayer, to me, is an iceberg that I sit on, where I am only scraping the top of all the power that exists beneath me.

And here is where I will be very honest. I have not experienced this power simply because I don’t utilize it like I should.

It’s there! But prayer is hard work. And a lazy or disorganized mind that says yes to too many things and doesn’t focus on what is truly important will not experience this power.

But there was a day that God showed his power through prayer in a very clear way.

A year ago, I came home from a mid-term exam at school. I got home, changed into comfortable clothes, and decided to pack up all my books and papers and head up the mountain to a lonely little coffee shop on Doi Pui to study and work on term projects. I got ready, notified my housemates where I was going headed out to the main road on my motorbike.

As I drove past the last house before the main road, I noticed several people standing outside, and something made my heart jump as I drove past. One of the men stared at me in the face with brilliant blue eyes, wide and staring, his red hair on end.

I felt shivers going down my spine without knowing why. Something was wrong and I had turned out onto the main road before I could gather my wits together. By the time I got to the next intersection, I concluded two things. He was not Thai, and something was wrong. On a whim, I turned my bike back and started back. I decided I would drive past once to calculate the situation again, and then if it looked like there was something I could do, like translate, I would stop. There were two reasons I did this. One because I truly wanted to help, and two because I was curious. Yet, deep in my heart, I was also terrified.

I drove past again and they were still there, so I turned my bike around, parked and climbed off. Immediately, the Thai people noticed and waved me over.

The man was high. He had no shoes. His hair was wild and his lips were dry and peeling. Spittle flew out of his mouth when he talked.  His eyes were a bright staring blue and were nearly popping out of their sockets, although had he been in normal circumstances, I would have said he was young and good-looking. I kept on praying under my breath as I talked with him. He started off begging me to take him to the main road, about 100 meters away. At first thought I said I would and then decided against it telling him instead that he would have to let one of the Thai guys take him. The Thai guys said they had already contacted the police because the lady of the house had seen him run past the house and then come back, jumping on one of the bikes in the garage as if he was going to take off with it.

He moved in close to me. “I’m going to die. I’m going to die if you don’t go with me. They’ve got a gun! They’ve got a gun and they’re going to shoot me!”

“Who?” I asked.

“They,” he pointed down the road. “You have to take me to the road. Or I am going to die!”

I clutched my bike keys in my hand, scared he would grab them away.

“I’m sorry,” I insisted. “I can’t take you. If you want to go you have to go yourself. You can walk. It’s not far.”

He came up closer to me, his crazed eyes boring into mine. “No, no! You have to go with me!”

I would talk with him for a while and then talk with the Thai neighbors. As I talked with them, the man would walk around restlessly, as if he was leaving, and then come running back in fear.

“They’re going to shoot me! You just watch! If you don’t go with me, I’m going to die!” He began walking away, watching me and pointing his forefinger and thumb into a gun and pointing it at his own head. “I’m going to die! I’m going to die!”

I watched as he went, oddly wondering to myself if he really was going to die. He went for a bit and then came running back, begging me again to drive him to the road, angry that I refused.

During all this time, I felt a surprising lack of fear.

“What’s your name?” I asked. “Where are you from?”

He was from New Zealand. I can’t remember what his name was anymore.

It took ages for a cop to show up. By that time, the man was calmer than before. At first, he insisted I go with him to the station, but eventually he became calm enough for the policeman to lead him down the road to his car. By that time, I was exhausted and in no state to drive up the mountain.

I never heard what happened to him. I still wonder.

That evening was when the fear started for me. When I was in my late teens I had wrestled with deep-seated fear at nighttime, especially when sleeping by myself. There were times when I would be unable to sleep much of a night because of fear—fear of darkness, fear of evil, fear of fear. I had struggled with this through my teens and in my lower twenties had gradually found victory through prayer, singing, reading the Word and renouncing fear in the name of Jesus. I also had discovered through this that I was extremely sensitive to anything spiritually dark. I learned what kind of books I could read and what I couldn’t read.

But this evening I could again feel it coming on. Every time I closed my eyes, I would see his eyes, crazy, wide and blue, with blood vessels sketched on the whites, right in front of mine. Even his smell seemed to follow me. I knew that I was never going to be able to sleep that night unless something changed. The fear was tangible, like a shell that wrapped itself around me.

Before I went to bed, I shared with my housemates what I was feeling. Brit right away offered to pray for me.

And that’s when I felt it. As she prayed, the fear that wrapped itself around me literally fell away. It felt like something was stripping it off, and instead a peace reigned in my heart.

I went to bed and slept like a rock. No visions of red-haired, blue-eyed men ventured into my dreams.

So, I leave you with that—the power of a simple prayer. I know my imagination, and I know my sensitivity to darkness and evil. Because of that I also know that my fear does not magically fall away because of nothing.

My challenge to myself and to you today is to utilize prayer and its power.

I wanted to write this as a reminder to myself, as a way of driving a stake into the ground and saying, “I remember this. Let this be a memorial to answered prayer so that every time I come into a situation that demands prayer, I can look back at this and say, yes. It works.”

So here is that stake, that memorial.

On this blog.

Right here.

 

Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

 

God Hunt

I am on a God hunt.

I grab my friend’s camera, and set out on my bike, impatient, thirsty, and expectant. The western sky hangs heavy with soot red smoke and the dust stings my eyes as I drive first down the winding path behind our house, where suddenly the road pops out into a gap where a rice field lies, green and spring-like in the dying evening.

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Then I drive on, through choking Friday evening traffic, and wait at stoplights that are stonily unsympathetic to hunters who know the sun is steadily dying in the west. I watch the people around me and wonder if any of them are on a God hunt. Finally, I find it, a pocket of green field with a smoky view of the mountain and the silhouette of a church cross painted on the sky.

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I breath in deeply the greenness and savor the glimpses of the setting sun. We leave with whetted appetites and wander on and on, down twisting alleys and darkening streets, seeking for more. I find it where cows graze on withered grass in the dusky evening, and two dogs bark menacingly at the strange foreigner pointing a black thing towards their charges.

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They escort me out the alley at a furious pace, satisfied that they have succeeded in disposing of me.

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I find a place, where the country and city meet, where the light from the street lights gleams over the rice fields and calls me home.

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Soon it is too dark to snap anymore photos, which is good since I am thoroughly lost and need to focus on finding my way. Finally, I pop out on a large road close to a major university, about 15 kilometers from home. I make my way home, turning in the last road where the cool air nestles in a pocket of trees, and reach our gate, where our dog greets me.

IMG_5639 My eyes are dry and burnt by smog, my back is tired from driving, but I have found beauty, and where beauty is, God’s hand has been.

Beauty is God’s poetry.

The Image of You

 

The following poem was previously

published for the first time in Vibrant Girl Volume 3 Issue 1

 

I have wandered among windswept hills

Almost to where the sky touched me

I have danced in prairies, gold and green

Where wheat waves run like amber sea

I have roamed the lonesome mountain ridges

I have watched a hundred morns unfold

And flung my soul in breathless praise

At sight of sunset’s tawny gold

 

But not only beauty draws my heart

To sing about your glory–

Dark eyes aglow in unfeigned joy,

The trembling words of soul-saved story,

Healing tears in a Godspun moment

Quiet knowing, laughter light

A dream of joy, a hunger shared,

Breaking of walls, giving of sight

 

Oh, yes, I have praised you in the windswept hills

Under a sky of brilliant blue

Yet my heart sings too in a soul -filled life

In a smile, a tear, an image of You 

The Way We Walk

I like going to the park. The sunlight there filters through giant aged trees, and the grass grows and gives a nostalgic smell after it’s been cut, and there’s room to move and swing your arms and breathe in, and in, and further in the scent of nature. I like going on Sunday nights so I can talk with the old missionary who comes every Sunday night to pass out tracts and talk to the people walking in the park.

But most of all, when I go, I like watching people run and walk. Some people walk slowly, swinging their arms while relaxing. Others walk with purpose and a marching stride. Others run. One man raises his fists above his head as he jogs, punching the air as if he were fighting off imaginary barriers. One woman runs lifting her feet high off the ground and her knees jabbing the air, like a Dutch Harness horse cut loose from the shafts. One large man lumbers along like a bulldozer, each step forward a slight victory, while others seem to float along. My favorite person to watch is a slightly built man who looks like he could be an immigrant from neighboring Myanmar. He does not run; he skims above the sidewalk, with his feet merely tapping the earth in a rhythmic tattoo, circling the park uncountable times.

But the man I admire the most is not one who runs effortlessly. This man is tall, rather heavily built, and only walks. His walk is the strangest gait I have ever seen, with his knees twisting back and forth as he goes, almost grotesquely. Each step is almost painful, an effort of concentration. He does not look around to catch the stares of the onlookers, but he looks ahead and focuses on the path before him. I watched him as I walked, and I wondered.

I wondered what his motivation was to walk those laps around the park, when he could have more excuses than anyone else not to walk. I wondered if he ever thought that since he couldn’t run, he shouldn’t even try to walk. I wondered if the stares of the people ever bothered him, or if he ever thought bitterly to himself that no one understood what his life was like. But most of all, I wondered if I could walk like him.

Because I feel like him. My walk, my spiritual life, is not a smooth effortless skimming along, powerful in faith, a woman of prayer and wisdom. My walk is not even a steady moving along, strong and slow, like a bulldozer, or one of courage while fighting the unseen elements. My walk is a slow, crippled one, riddled with doubts and questions, tossed back and forth by waves of a hundred voices shouting in the world and the underlying question: is God’s love really big enough to encompass the whole world?

My walk is not one of resounding victory and hallelujahs. The easy trite answer spurs me to cynicism, and the smallest word can send a knife of doubt through my heart. The questions that come at me I don’t know how to answer, especially those of friends who are hurting or angry.

What if I could walk the way the man does in the park, no matter what happens and no matter what others say and no matter how crippled I am? What if a walk like that could be a testimony of God’s grace? What if there really is beauty in the struggle, even if I am not seeing it right now? What if in the brokenness, in our inability to walk gracefully, God hears a hallelujah even when our mouths cannot utter it?

The lyrics from this song written by Twila Paris keep on coming to me again and again.

“Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child”
(Paris, 1984)

 

There really is a Father standing there, reaching out for us when we finally let those tears fall.

 

Works Cited:

Paris,Twila, “The Warrior is a Child.” 1984. http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/twila+paris/the+warrior+is+a+child_20347634.html. Accessed: 5 October 2017