Sunday, July 28, 2013

Living in the Grey

My love of the sciences started when I was a little girl.  I asked questions that had black and white answers and loved solving problems.  I have always been drawn to the beauty of fractals and images with symmetry and structure.

My windshield on a cold morning in Richmond
But from the moment I arrived in East Africa over four years ago, I started to learn to live in the grey and the abstract.  It was a slow process, but somewhere in the middle of it all, I became much more comfortable asking the questions that don't always have definite answers.  Missions and international development are full of these types questions as is the Christian faith.  

I still have moments when I want everything to have a black and white answer, and I'm continually learning how to live by faith in the grey.  It is an ongoing process.  Learning to live in the grey does not exclude the scientific method by any means.   I still love fractals and solving concrete problems. I just have also come to love discussing questions that have answers that I cannot yet understand or that may not have answers at all.

This may not much make much sense to you, but if you can relate, then maybe you are one the many friends who has questioned, considered, discussed, and prayed with me in a living room, coffee shop, classroom, or car ride.  For these friends I am deeply thankful.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When I Don't Trust

Support raising missionaries talk a lot about trusting in God's provision, and I am no exception. I am so thankful for the record I have of God's provision and the ways he has answered prayers.

But with three weeks left in the US, an ever increasing number of items on my to-do list, a dying computer that I really can't afford to replace, my support account still over a thousand dollars short of my goal, and more goodbyes on the horizon, trusting in God's provision becomes the thing I say but don't do.  I start problem-solving like the engineer that I am with a heart full of doubt.  I stop trusting, leave God out of the process, and act independently without asking for help.

The sinful tendencies of my heart come out in these moments when there is no buffer.  It is easier to trust in God's provision when I have plenty of time and savings to fall back on if necessary. Today I listened to a sermon on Habakkuk and was reminded that my version of not having a buffer as an American is no where even close to what is experienced by so many people around the world where God's provision is the difference between life and death.  The reality of trusting in God's provision is that God may not answer my prayers or the prayers of Christians around the world.  Yet God is always faithful.

I have experienced God's faithfulness in times of struggle and unanswered prayers in my own life, yet I so easily forget this record.  As my pastor pointed out, the stories of God's provision and answered prayers are the ones most often shared by Christians.   But if I look back honestly at my own life, each story of God's faithfulness in unanswered prayers has shown me more about the character of God than all the answered prayers combined.

In these moments when the buffer I have become accustomed to is no longer there, the true state of my heart is exposed.  So please pray against my doubt and unbelief.  Pray that I would not just say that I am trusting in God, but that my heart would actually trust God with every detail of my last three weeks in the US.   Pray that I would remember the ways God has been faithful to me in previous times of struggle, but more than that, pray that I would recognize that my concerns are small and that God is faithful even in death.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On the Move with Jayber Crow

Last night I turned in my last grad school paper of the summer semester, which more than anything else marked the transition to summer for me.

I'm already on the road, making my way down the east coast, stopping to visit friends here and there on my way to Southwest Florida.

I am counting my time left in the US in weeks rather than months now, and my to-do list seems to just keep getting longer.

This is the stage for me that is filled with excitement as I anticipate biking along the familiar red-dirt roads of Mundri and being reunited with dear friends.  It is also a time of sadness as I say both hello and goodbye to old friends in Richmond and all over the US.

As I make this journey, I have been listening to Jayber Crow on audiobook.  Knowing it was one of Bethany's favorite books, I downloaded it right away when I saw it available on Noisetrade.  I'm not even at the half way point of the book or my drive, but so far I love how Wendell Berry speaks about community in a slow and humble way with a Southern accent all wrapped up in story.  I didn't realize how much I longed for a good story, but after reading a lot of academic articles and text books over the last year, I am completely engaged in the story of Jayber Crow's life and the Port William community.  Stability in relationships and community are topics I have been praying a lot about this year, but rather than continuing to ramble about community, I will just leave you with the link to Jayber Crow on audiobook.  =)

“'You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out - perhaps a little at a time.'
'And how long is that going to take?'
'I don't know. As long as you live, perhaps.'
'That could be a long time.'
'I will tell you a further mystery,' he said. 'It may take longer.'”
― Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow