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Sunday, January 24, 2010

A red thread (or strange encouragement)

This morning the Pierce family pulled out, in the tapering drizzle of a stormy night's downpour. We had a lovely team goodbye last night, a civilized candlelight dinner with stories and toasts, followed by some tributes and gifts and prayer. Annelise showed her draft-version slide show entitled "World's Hardest Mission", which sort of goes along with "Crisis School". In other words, it's been a long and challenging three years for them, and yet they are competent and compassionate people. If they barely made it through intact, what about Deus as new head teacher, or Scott who is stretching himself even further as a more-involved chairman of the board? As they pulled out, the last direct missionary supervisors of our very-much-central mission project, it is hard not to wonder, how hard will it now be without them? We all agree this is the right plan, God's timing, the next step, for them and for us. But at what cost?
An hour later we were in church, which due to aforementioned rain was off to a trickling slow start, so I was catching up on some Bible reading in Genesis, and as usual found encouragement in an unexpected chapter, 38. Many interesting things about this story, not the least of which is injustice and double standards and a woman's initiative. But this time through I was struck by the tenuous nature of the whole ancestry of Jesus. God's plan hung by a thread. Judah and his sons did not exactly behave in the most upstanding manner. The two older sons died and the younger seemed to wander off track, without any progeny. That left a foreign-born daughter-in-law, who had been shoved off back to her father for a decade or more, to risk her life to get an heir gestating. As she was about to be stoned, she produced the red cord, the staff and seal that proved the unborn baby's paternity. Then she could have easily died again delivering twins, a hand presentation in the pre-surgical era (or in Bundibugyo) is generally a death sentence. Again the red thread, this time marking the anticipated first-born, who subsequently gets pushed to the side by his brother Perez the true heir. Two red threads, representing a tenuous blood line, a fragile continuity.
God seems to purposely hang His plans on thin strands. We feel it right now, with the opening of the school year a week away, and so many unknowns about how this new arrangement of mission/school partnership will work. But I was encouraged by this story that God will finish the story the way He wants to, in a way that shows the power comes from Him and not from us. Both Scott and I know that the next six months will not be easy, and will not be what we had anticipated or hoped for our lives in 2010. That's good. There were other readings in the service, from Acts 21 and Mark 8. We humans tend to assume that if God is at work we should see victory; if danger and difficulty loom then it's time to retreat, something must be wrong. But Jesus told Peter that was Satan's logic, that His path led to the cross. And Paul said the same as he headed to Jerusalem. So, deep breath, here we go into 2010, with a slippery hold on a scarlet cord, the blood of Jesus. And hope that we'll look back and see themes of His presence and work in spite of everything.


Tricia said...

I like this statement, "God will finish the story the way He wants to." I hang on to that truth daily in my life. Praying for you and yours as you serve the LORD. God bless.

Hope said...

Not to mention the red cord that Rahab hung to let the Israelites know where she was.