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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Of waves, wind, and eye directions

In Naivasha we attend an international fellowship, a church meeting in a school, half Kenyan half expat types from a number of other countries, with the simplicity and transparency of people who know the world is not right but the Kingdom comes.  Many weeks I get to play the keyboard for worship, accompanying some very talented vocalists and guitarists.  We are a small handful in an unadorned cement upper room, plastic chairs, down to the basics of prayer and fellowship and worship and proclaiming truth.  We had come to Naivasha looking around for a very cross-cultural Swahili-only church (as if we were somehow special missionary types), only to realize we NEEDED this welcoming fellowship after our stressful weeks.  These people are the real deal.  Some operate businesses in the area, others teach, run a safe house for abused and abandoned kids, heal trauma with kindness, facilitate students learning about care of creation, creatively organize job training and discipleship.  Prayer requests grapple with tribalism in school dorms, war in South Sudan, distant kids and parents, rain and drought, the hope for peace as elections approach.  A real body of Jesus simply trying to love others and depend on God.

One of the songs our worship leader chose today is a remake of the hymn "It is well with my soul".  You should listen to it right now.  The stillness of soul is not predicated upon a well-ordered calmness of circumstances, it comes in the midst of the waves and winds of distress.  This, is faith.  One of the choruses says, through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you, which reminds me of 2 Chronicles 20:12.  When the people faced impossible odds and potential annihilation, they had no recourse but to look to God for deliverance.  This story became very meaningful to us in some hard days in Uganda.

Playing it today, our hearts went out in prayer to many windy, wavy, heartbreaking situations for people we love.  Dear friends, who were colleagues in Uganda and are now finishing graduate training in the states, found their infant son blue and lifeless yesterday morning.  After CPR and an admission to the pediatric ICU he is alive and yet the cause of his life-threatening event and his eventual outcome are still not certain.  Other supporters and childhood friends also had a baby this weekend, a difficult delivery during which mother and baby both nearly died, and this infant is also tenuously holding onto life in a neonatal ICU.  Here in Africa, one of our teams has had an inordinate burden of struggling kids and crumbling infrastructure, in what feels like a wave of spiritual oppression.  Two other teams are in areas with cholera outbreaks, a potentially deadly infection.  The rainfall in Kenya still lags behind normal (about a quarter of the expected this season).  We encounter loss, hardship, conflict, mental and physical illness, loneliness, every day.  Our oldest needs to make a pretty life-determining decision this week about his residency choice, and needs prayer for clarity that will carry him through the next decade of intense work.  The second will be jumping out of an airplane five times in the next week; we pray the weather holds for him.  Near-death days for beloved friends, chronic struggles for weary teams, life directions for our own flesh and blood.  We feel the buffeting of those storms.

Yet in that very place of shaking, of breaking, we pray for the grace to cling to the truth that all shall be well.  One who is good, fiercely so, painfully so, writes the end to this story.  

When Job struggled with the big questions of suffering, God told him to look at the hippos.  Literally, to ponder the wild beauty and independence and balance of creation.  Besides playing for worship, the highlight of the week was a visit from our great friend Bethany which prompted us to do a little walking safari Friday evening.  We can walk from our house across the highway to a small Kenya Wildlife Service preserve by the lake.  On this particular evening, we saw wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, hippos, more zebra, fish eagles, cormorants, pelicans, storks, herons, egrets, plovers . . . and just at dusk, two black-backed jackals sauntering across the path and into the bush.  It was a holy moment of wonder, of remembering a goodness that undergirds all of us, of glimpsing a glory that has been obscured by brokenness but not erased.

Enjoy Scott's photos of the evening, and pray for those we love to know that all shall be well.

1 comment:

Martha Ritchie said...

I am lifting your concerns to our able Father. May you have peace in the midst of the storms.I also find such refreshment in seeing God's creatures and creation striving in this life. May He give you strength and endurance. We look forward to seeing you soon!