Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Glorious Dance

I bought a digital keyboard around 10 years ago. For those in the know, it's a Kurzweil PC-88mx. I still don't know what 90% of the keyboard buttons do. There's nothing like a little technology to reveal my ignorance and bring me down to size.

I recently found the buttons that play a demonstration of the keyboard's capabilities by playing music in different voices and modes. My daughter, Charlotte, who is 7 years old and learning the piano, asked how I made the piano play that song.

In hindsight, I should have feigned technological ignorance again. Now, at this moment, I am listening to a song that I'm pretty sure was a part of Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade for about the 45th time since I got home 20 minutes ago.

As much as I am growing to hate that Kurzweil (time will hopefully fade out the distaste), I am blessed to be able to watch the energetic joy of these little girls whom I call my own. They dance and dance and dance, completely oblivious to the fact that they received their father's "white man" gene, which renders one's legs completely insensitive to rhythm. It's a genetic disease. I've never even seen my father try to dance...and I'm not sure that I want to. But, in spite of the epileptic motions that my daughters consider as graceful as the most beautiful ballerina, I am enthralled at their joy.

I wish I had that joy. To be able to be completely unaware of myself and how I appear, just to dance in the glory of the music. I guess that I am more a product of my culture than I know. Lowered expectations and my failure of even those has hardened me to a sense of hope. What I know in my head, a lot like understanding music theory and notation, cannot replace the simple joy of the dance. It's not as if joy has completely moved out, but cynicism has moved its furniture into the living room.

It's time for another eviction. A gaze again at the great Musician. To hear the genius of grace and the glory of the gospel symphony, where God's mercy counterpoints God's holiness at the cross. I need to dance again, to feel the gospel move my soul to joyful, if not graceful, movement.

Holy Spirit, work your magic upon the lyre of my heart and set my soul to dancing, completely oblivious to how I appear, lost in the wonder of the music of your gracious love.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Message from Mary

I thought that I would pass on an e-mail from Mary Haag, freshly back in Cambodia:

Hi you all.
I just wanted to let you know that I'm here! Currently in the OMF
library which has aircon. One of the missionaries hooked me up for
WiFi and now I'm off! The trip went well though I got very little
sleep even with a sleeping pill. Though I had a headache earlier, I'm
actually not tired though being awake for over 36 hours, minus maybe 4
hours of sleep on the plane. I think I must be getting by on
adrenalin. I'll not go to bed till night, so still have 8 hours or so to go. I had some amazing conversations on the journey.
Strange and wonderfully confirming. I had three extended conversations
which lasted for hours and hours. Two were Filipinas and one was a
Cambodian American who was returning to Cambodia for the first time
since escape from Pol Pot in 1979. I admit that with the first lady I
just felt exhausted at times by the heavy conversation and sometimes
wished she would be quiet. But when I sat by another Filipina and she
warmed to me I began to just go with it trusting to give energy and to
see how God might lead in just using counseling skills indirectly. I
feel I really was able to help these ladies, and practice my skills.
It was fun (most of the time). They thanked me many times for
listening. I'm left with some thoughts about it all. First, is the
very real opportunity of doing counseling naturally with Asians.
Amazing that they really did warm up to me, a stranger. But another
thought has to do with my own sanity. It was a bit intense. I can see
the danger of doing it naturally without boundaries. Also, I feel
confirmation of the need for me to have a safe home where I'm not going to need to do more intense interacting with an extrovert housemate or her ministry friends.
I was able to get my visa smoothly as everything happened just as I'd
been told. There was a man with a sign from the airport waiting for me
and had my government letter of attestation to get my visa. I was
directed to the head of the line with my official document. A good
group of old friends were at the airport to greet me. I felt so warmly
welcomed. We laughed with joy all the way "home" to the mission home.
So fun to see the folk from the team. Oh how blessed I feel to know
these wonderful folk! I've already seen three students. Two lovely
ones came with flowers. Over the weekend I'll be hanging with one
couple mostly unless others invite me out. The mission home staff are
on a retreat so no meals are planned. All is well as it gives me a
chance to be with the team in smaller groups. So, nothing much else to
tell you at the moment. The thought, I could actually send me in a
picture now that I have a digital camera. But, won't at the moment.

Thanks for all! Much love, Mary

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Church of the Messy

I have been pondering this past year, its goals and successes, failures and necessary changes. I'm constantly surprised at all that the Lord does behind the scenes of what I see. I mean, I am that arrogant. So arrogant as to believe that nothing really happens in people's lives unless I guide them and show them and reveal things to them. Oh, Come quickly Lord Jesus, for your preachers are prone to arrogance and presumption!

I'm reminded of my propensity to pride as I saw two of my sisters this week struggling to understand one another. One of my goals for this year was become more transparent, to be quick to repent and lose my power. And I lauded it as a goal for the church, too. And here I was seeing the Lord working out Spirit-led transparent community between these two women.

As they struggled to be understood, each desiring so badly for both to see Jesus and to honor His Word, I saw the messiness amidst the struggle. And it hit me amidst all the emotion. The severity of growth is only accomplished in the messiness of other-centered transparency, of letting oneself be vulnerable and open to criticism and painful response. Each of my sisters were wrapped up in this struggle to know and be known, to wrestle with the Lord over what His Word actually teaches. Coinciding with each move toward understanding came the counter-reaction of hurt feelings and wounded fear. Not fear of the struggle, but fear of losing each one another in the struggle. Fear of rejection and the bruising of the soul. And they humbly and openly pressed on, spurning their egos their love for each other was evident. And the incredible outcome of these two amazing women's struggle was a deepened love for each other and a new sense of togetherness that did not exist before. I saw God bringing all things together under Jesus as He brought these women together soul to soul.

So, it was I who needed again to be taught this week. And I was taught, not through my books or articles, but through the messy proclamation of these two sisters. Authentic struggle with the Lord and the humbly honest seeing of Jesus together results is messy but glorious growth.

And I have to ask myself: Am I willing to get messy? Am I willing to reveal my deepest vulnerability and be weak? Am I becoming like a child, a messy, unconcerned about how I appear to the adults, child? I would like to think that I could handle this seeking of Jesus in a similar manner and come out of the hunt with a deeper love for my brothers and sisters, a greater sense of comaraderie, and a higher vision of God's glory in my relationships.

Lord, I want a messy life, one of deep growth and severe love. I want it for your people, too. Make us a messy church, one of brokenness, humility, honesty and a perseverent pursuit of love for each other and above all, of You. Make us a church of the messy, that our deepened love for and understanding of each other would glorify You and You alone.

Soli Deo Gloria
To the Glory of God Alone,