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Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Kingdom, The Power, and the Glory

Once a month, everyone from the entire RVA/Kijabe station squeezes into the local AIC church together, students and townspeople and visitors from Scotland or Marsabit (the other three Sundays RVA has its own church service). This week Pastor Simon preached from the end of the Lord's prayer, with a talk entitled "the path to blessing". When one reads that title in an African church, one wonders.  The health-and-wealth gospel has been strongly imported in this country.  Just have faith and you'll be healed and driving a Mercedes.

How refreshing and convicting then to hear the path to blessing explained by this faithful Kenyan pastor.  Seek first the Kingdom.  Live by God's power, and for His glory, not your own.

The second point about power really struck me, because he told us that God blesses people who are NOT self-sufficient, so God puts us in situations that are bigger than we are so we have to depend upon his power.  Like Abraham, or Esther.  And if I had to think of a current example, my heart went to my Air Force cadet.  Because the entire educational philosophy of that place is to keep the cadets pushed, off-balance, over-stretched.  They always have more work than they can do, higher expectations than they can manage.  The idea is that if they go into combat, things are not do-able or tidy.  They have to be able to focus under stress.  So rather than generally finishing all his work, or making perfect scores, or organizing his life in a way that is comfortable, he just plunges on forward and does his best.  Which can be a brutal way to live, but it can also be a path of blessing.

Case in point:  the day before, we had a cryptic text from his older brother.  Pray for C, because he's got a long run today.  Hmm I wondered, was this the periodic physical fitness tests they always have to pass?  I texted my query.  No, it's optional (from brother, silence from C).  Suspicious, I googled USAFA and race, wondering if he was really recovered enough to do a 5 or 10 K race.  Instead I found out there was a military marathon that day.  The three events were a normal marathon, a heavy marathon (26.2 miles with full gear including uniform, boots, and a 35 pound pack), or an ultramarathon (50 miles).  With a reconstructed knee, I didn't think any of those sounded healthy or even possible, which is why I was the last to know (echoes of Nemo's Dad in my head).  He ran the heavy marathon, a grueling endurance event.  And finished.  Because he wanted to.  Because he lives by a power deep within, from the Spirit, which makes him take risks.  Risks I would not dream of.

A few days later, I asked if he had a picture of himself running in that gear, for this post.  No picture, mom, only this:

I guess he forgot to mention the detail that his first marathon was not only a heavy, but that he came in third.

And as I look around, I see my friends and colleagues running their own heavies.  Dealing with grief.  Putting in long hours.  Listening to too-close riots or gunfire.  Agonizing over kids.  Counseling and teaching and doctoring and learning languages.  Taking risks, doing things that are too big and too hard.  A third friend miscarried, and my heart aches.  And one of my three Paediatrician partners had a baby on my call night this week, which was a bit like running a heavy marathon.  I supported her onto the operating table for her c-section, after all those hours of contractions she was wiped out, the only time I have ever known her to be without a laugh and completely at the end of herself (though I did get a weak smile when I complimented her spiff toenails, utterly incongruous in the midst of agony).  Half our Paeds team hovered in the hallway, and together we welcomed a perfect, beautiful girl into the world.

So we keep throwing ourselves onto God's power, biting off more than we can chew, entering situations that are bigger than we are.  And we keep seeing God's power at work, which is the path of blessing for us and others.

(A few more examples)

At family clinic, a mom stops me.  Here is your baby, Doctor Jennifer, she says happily, showing me a perfectly normal toddler.  Don't you remember?  I didn't.  That's because he was a 1200 gram preemie that she says I intubated to give surfactant.  She is beaming with happiness, showing me her healthy kid.  I never feel confident intubating preemies, but I guess this is one time God's power came through, it worked, and he's fine!

Scott was on call with me this past week one night, and a young woman came in with an ectopic pregnancy.  A fetus stuck in a fallopian tube rather than the womb.  Not good; the baby is by definition not viable but the mother can also die.  He decided he could do a more difficult procedure that would remove the fetus but also spare the mother's tube, making it easier for her to get pregnant again.  It was technically challenging. But it worked.

Right across from our house, a reminder of God's power to bring brilliance out of rainy circumstances.


Anonymous said...

You don't always get a lot of comments on your posts but I always read your posts as soon as they appear in my feeder and I suspect there are hundreds like me. We read and lurk and appreciate and lift up little silent prayers and marvel at your ability to write so well in the midst of incessant work. Thank you for taking the time to write and share. There are many of us who are very grateful. Keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely concur and could not have said it any better myself! This blog has transformed my life not just once, but over and over again. It is the third site I check each morning after my email and Facebook (used to stay in touch with my grown son). I marvel not only at the writing ability and the faith, courage, and tenacity displayed all for the Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Amen to those comments!
I too concur and appreciate that you share your Kingdom journey with us. A great blessing to read from afar.
With love and prayers to you and your family.