Still Waters Amidst the Chaos

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

 Grieving at any point in life is difficult. Only someone who has gone through it can accurately describe it. It’s like wading through a dark, swampy forest, longing for the sun to rise and burn off the thick fog you’re trying to escape from. You don’t know where the sun will rise but hope its different from any other time before. The memories comfort yet suffocate you. Searching for relief, you’re exhausted.

Recently, my grandfather passed away 3 weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The circumstances came and went like an unforeseen tragedy, leaving us drowning in the wake.

He was the first grandparent and father lost – just two weeks away from Thanksgiving. Not one person felt normal or complete. The season’s joyous spirit felt superficial at a time like this. Some eventually accepted this as the new reality and busied themselves, absorbing others’ Christmas cheer and attempting to pass it on. The rest were left seeking whatever could be found to keep the reality settling in their heart.

God urges and reminds us our choices (no matter how seemingly small) have a lasting impact on our future. What are you running to for fulfillment? What substance(s) are you using to drown your sorrows?

“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly.. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:1, 3, 10-15 ‭ESV‬‬

If it had not been for the prayer warriors hedging me in during my season of grieving or the friends that simply took the time to listen and invest in my heart; I would not be writing this. I too, sought outside fulfillment in my brief period of grief/denial.

Everyone grieves differently. Ecclesiastes 3 encourages us there is a time for everything. Weeping, praising, searching, mending, and stillness.

Many in this generation have become fixated on social media, often causing them to entertain the meaningless. Through some’s time of grief they may bury themselves in other’s lives, longing for their friends’ highlight reels midst their dark hour. Others are left pining for the love they lost, seeking from those not worthy to capture their heart. Both of these circumstances point to a haughty heart: one too proud to submit to Christ in their moment of weakness, fear, and hurt.

“Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is? You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In every season, there are times to feel weak, angry, and sad, but in that storm Christ calls us to say: “Through it all, you are still good.” This is easier said then done. How do we focus on the still water when ensued by chaos?

He Brings Hope to the Hopeless

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

On a windy, cloudy day in Kya Sands, most people are huddled around fires or in their shacks staying warm. Our team walks in between the alley ways looking for an open shack or anyone for that matter. As we stand in front of a shack, looking to see if anyone is there, we notice they are all locked. While we discuss where we should go next, a woman approaches and greets us. She introduces herself as Marciah and we learn more of her life. Her four daughters are back at home; oldest is 16 and part of a Muslim church. She shares her disappointment and prayers for her daughter. We relate life with her, me sharing of my two younger sisters and family in America, the difficulty of being away. “But I call my mom and I feel better.” Marciah, the thirty-eight year old woman, tells me.

I ask if she lives with her family and she tells me she lives by herself. I was a little surprised because very rarely will you find a woman in a squatter camp living on her own. If she’s not living with a sister or mother, she usually lives with a boyfriend or husband. “My boyfriend died on October 26 last year.” She solemnly states. Once again, my heart is pulled for this woman. So many times you’ll hear of difficult situations occurring in a squatter camp, of death and sickness, unthinkable realities hit you like a tidal wave. These situations, as terrible as they are, have become the norm in hopeless desperation to cope.

She tells of visiting her children for holiday and the joy of being able to spend time with her little ones. We learn of the church she attends and she shares even more about her life. She invites us inside her house, unlocking the door and motioning for us to come closer. She shows us the places her families once lived before they moved back home, leaving her by herself. I ask Marcia if she likes to be by herself or with others. She tells me she likes to be with others but it is difficult because her neighbors come home late, through the emphasis in her eyes I can see the loneliness. As if a wall had come down, she opened up and spoke softly of her deceased boyfriend. “He committed suicide here.” She tells me. Rather than tugging at my heart, it broke right in two hearing this. “I am so sorry, Maricah.” I try to console her in the best way I know, sympathy and a listening ear. She continued, “He hung himself. He didn’t even leave a note.” Trying to still wrap my head about the pain she must be feeling I ask another question. “You found him hanging?”

“We came home and he had locked it from the inside,” she said. “I knocked and knocked but no one would answer the door. We had to break part of the door and crawl through.” As she told the story, I mentally walked through the process, experiencing the stress and exhaustion after a long day’s work, not being able to enter the only place that could be labeled your oasis, crawling through the door to find someone so close to you, had killed themselves. “I couldn’t sleep or stay here.” She tells us. “All I could picture was that was where he died. I would think I saw him when I woke up at night. So many people told me to get counseling. But I told them I could counsel myself.” Marciah continued to tell of getting counseling and how she was okay now. I could still see the oppression over her life, the heaviness that burdened her whether she knew it or not. I began to relate to her, through circumstances I had gone through with friends. I told her of how I felt when I found out the people I was close to told me of how close they had come to suicide and the questions I asked myself. “How could I have noticed? Why was I not there for them?” She agreed with me and I asked if she had a bible.

She took her Bible out, excited to show me. I see her bookmark is in Psalms and I ask if she likes the book. “I must be honest; I did not read my Bible while I was on holiday.” She admits to me. I nod my head and tell her of my new found love for Psalms. As I flip to show her where I have been reading, I read her 55:1-8,9b,11b,16 and ending with v22 “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you.

She soaked it all in. She agreed to start attending our bible studies and is so excited to be able to see people and talk to them about God! I am so excited to journey with Marcia. Please be praying with me for healing, peace, and deliverance in her life.

Recently, I’ve had to rely on the Lord for his provision. I am still fundraising while in South Africa to fully fund the year. Trusting in His timing is not easy, especially when deadlines fly by as you’re out in the shacks and in the office, day by day. Just as I encouraged Marciah with Psalms, it has been encouraging me especially in this season of life.

 “But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. (v20-22) We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name..Lord, our hope is in you alone.”

Psalm 33:18

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