Monthly Archives: July 2012

transformed.

During chapel last week, the speaker told the story of Paul–how he lived his life one way until the Lord grabbed him and turned him completely around.  If you’ve never read about him, check out the book of Acts.  His life is a prime example of the transforming power of the love of Jesus.

On this particular night, I sat in the back of the room with our kids and gave them some coloring pages in the hopes of keeping them relatively quiet.  In an attempt to get them learning about what their parents were hearing about, the pictures were all various scenes involving Paul in some way or another.  About halfway through the service, I looked over to see that several of the boys had used green markers to color in Paul’s face and hands.  I was confused…until I realized that they had crossed out the title of the picture and written in “The Incredible Hulk”.

I had to laugh, knowing that they didn’t really understand what they were coloring.  They had no idea who Paul was or why he’s important, so they turned him into a fictional superhero with some serious anger issues.

It is so interesting to me that that’s something that we begin to do at an early age.  I mean, isn’t it just like us to change something confusing into something we can more easily comprehend?

I find myself doing this often.  If I come across something that I am unfamiliar with, I try to fit it into what I already know.   One thing that is particularly difficult for me to grasp right now is grace.  Because I can’t quite wrap my mind around it, I find myself painting an inaccurate picture of what it means to be forgiven, of what it means to have the mercy of the Lord extended to me.

That’s a misconception that I run into a lot; I talk with women regularly who think that they are beyond redemption.  The concept of being given a clean slate is unfathomable to them.  They can’t understand how that could ever be possible, so they twist Jesus’ words and come to believe that those promises are for someone else more deserving, that there is certainly no way forgiveness would ever be offered to them.

They–rather, we–cheapen his grace and make it into something easier to understand.  Instead of viewing it as a complete restoration, we make grace out to be a quick fix, akin to throwing a fancy sheet over a ripped piece of furniture because company’s coming over.

That’s not what it is at all, though!  As broken as we are, we have to be made completely new. I love to think about how Jesus must delight in knowing that he gets to piece us back together and cover us with his sticky, messy grace.  It makes me think of glue, how it covers and holds together but usually makes it pretty evident to everyone looking on that something was once in need of fixing.

I’ve heard stories from women who have been rescued from years of drug abuse and prostitution, shame and self-loathing, destructive behaviors and thought patterns, and I am always amazed at how open they are about their pasts.  They spare no detail when talking about the things they were once involved in because they want it to be so obvious that they were able to overcome them solely by the grace of God.

Without Him, they would still be trapped.  Really, without Him, we are ALL bound up and enslaved to something.

It is only by His grace that we are freed, and we need to embrace that and continue to learn about what it means to truly be forgiven so we don’t keep living in such a way so as to suggest that we don’t know what the implications of that are.  And then, when we begin to recognize what it truly means to be forgiven, we need to share it with everyone we know.  Because why would we ever want to keep something like that to ourselves?


a future hope.

Last week, I walked out of my apartment to the sound of children yelling.  As I made my way down the stairs, they saw me coming and instantly ran over to where I was.  They flooded the stairway, making it nearly impossible for me to finish my descent.  All of them wanted to get as close to me as they could, and I finally had to sit down on a step so I didn’t fall the rest of the way (I’m really easy to knock over, as it turns out…poor balance and all that).

At dinner that same day, I sat across the table from Hope.  She looked up at me with her giant brown eyes and chocolate-smeared cheeks (There is always an abundance of cake.  At every meal, it seems like) and asked if I would pick her up.  She doesn’t speak very much English, so her version of asking was more of a gesture than anything else.  At 3 years old, she already knows exactly how to get what she wants.  It’s also helpful that she’s adorable.  I had carried her to dinner the night before, and she became instantly obsessed with seeing how high I could lift her into the air.  Let’s just say that my arms are going to be incredibly toned by the time she and her family move out.

And then Matthew, also 3, came hobbling over to me in the parking lot later that night, crying because his tiny toes were bleeding.  The boy walks barefoot everywhere, so I was more surprised that it hadn’t happened earlier than anything else.  I sat him in a chair and cleaned his foot carefully while he told me I was the best doctor.  I let him choose a band-aid (We only have one kind, so this was kind of a trick) and he watched me intently as I wrapped it around his injury.

If only I could do more than that.

He will get hurt again, his brave plans will be thwarted, he will fall and be disappointed.

She will want to be picked up and someone will tell her that they don’t have time to stop for her, she will face a crisis through which she’ll need to be carried and she won’t know what to do.

These children–my beautiful, crazy, extraordinary survivors–will run out of steam and energy; they will be told by the world that they won’t reach their dreams, that they won’t accomplish anything, and so they will give up.  They will stop yelling and running and instead live subdued ordinary lives.

So today I’m thankful that the responsibility doesn’t fall on my shoulders alone.

Sure, I get them for a little bit, and in that time I will do what is needed to let them know that they’re important and valuable and worth fighting for.

But they will leave.  Their families will find a place to call home, and they will be gone.  They will move on and move out, and a new group of tiny adventurers will flood the Mission.  For the ones that leave, it is crucial to remember that they are in God’s hands.  He does a way better job of caring for them than anyone else will ever be able to; His love doesn’t run out.  He has incredible plans, and while I wish that I could walk alongside each and every one of them to see what He has in store for their lives, I know that’s not going to happen.

Instead, I’ll continue to pray that they recognize that the small amount of patience and grace that I show them pales in comparison to how loved they are by their Father, and I’ll hold onto the hope that maybe I’ll get to see them again one day.

*names were changed