Monday, October 18, 2010

The Nantahala

Last weekend, we went rafting. Actually, we went camping and rafting. We thought it would be fun to take some of our middle school boys into the woods for a couple of days. There were eleven of us total. We left Friday, and headed up to the Nantahala, where we camped Friday night. We had in mind a sort-of return to nature. Or in some cases an initial introduction. Thus we confiscated all personal gaming devices and mp3 players. Fortunately, the inevitable protests that ensued were not the highlight of the weekend.

We spent the evening by the fire. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and told really bad ghost stories. Saturday, the much awaited rafting commenced. As with every trip down the river, ours was a mixture of the good and the bad. First, the bad….The water was COLD. Dae Dae fell in. Tre got thrown in. We nearly knocked an old man out of his kayak. Our guide was a young lady who had lived in a tent all summer and was covered with a lethal combination of tattoos and dreadlocks.

Now the good….The sky was beautiful. The sun was shining. Everybody laughed a lot. And finally, our guide was a young lady who had lived in a tent all summer and was covered with a lethal combination of tattoos and dreadlocks. Thank you LORD for your amazing creation and the unique way you meet us there. You didn’t have to but you did.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Called to feel

As I have sort of alluded to recently, I went through a pretty difficult time a little over a year ago. A big part of my struggles revolved around ministry. Here's a little something I wrote a couple of months ago as I looked back on that time.....

My attempts to unbreak my people broke me. It was physically painful. A numbness; like someone you love just punched you in the gut and left you praying for air while they walked off without remorse. For weeks I prayed that God would heal whatever it was that broke. I wanted to be fixed so that I could be a healer. The harder I pleaded the more distant God felt. What did he want me to do? Where was he? Why would he call me to something that I not only couldn't handle, but that would render me unable to handle anything? And so, we wrestled. There were only two ways this wrestling match could end. It was either going to kill me, or I was going to have to cry uncle.

It took me losing all of my strength before I would finally quit fighting. In my surrender I saw what until then I could not see. God wasn't going to give me rest from my brokenness. He was calling me to rest in my brokenness. To sit down. To feel the pain that my people feel on a daily basis. To hurt for them, and to remain present in a place that most folks try to escape from. I asked God to make me strong. He was delighted that I had finally been made weak. The place that I wanted to hide was the place that God wanted to show the world for my own good, and for his own glory.

I now know that in order for ministry to mean something, it has to hurt sometimes. How often do we rush into ministry, but away from pain? We want to save others, but forget that we can't save anyone that we have no empathy for. I am called to carry the pain of a people. I long to carry it with dignity and sobriety. Sometimes I still try to fix others before they break me. More often though, I'm reminded that only if I allow them to break me do either of us stand a chance of being fixed.