"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faith and Mother's Day 2013

Tumultuous emotions seem to reign in my heart since we moved to Kenya; the last several months have been no exception.  We regularly experience astounding miracles that cause my heart to soar and send me to my knees in worship, renewing my strength and my faith, but these are mingled with discouragement and sadness that weigh on my heart like a stone. 

I’ve thought a lot about faith lately.  I’m studying the book of James through a Beth Moore study and have learned a lot about the man, James, and have been convicted about faith in action.  James was the first leader of the Jewish Christians and a pillar in the new church.  He grew up literally sleeping next to the Messiah and completely missed Jesus’ intended purpose until He rose from the dead and confronted James face to face.  Yes, James had grown up with devout faith - anchored in a fabricated messiah, until God shifted his paradigm with the truth about The Messiah and rocked his faith to the core.  James was a man in process, a man we can all relate to, who talked about the multi-faceted elements of faith with a depth of personal experience that beckons us to listen and to be inspired into action.

Simultaneously, I’ve been thinking about another Faith.  Sweet, disenchanted Faith, is one of our Hill   neighbor’s distantly related niece of sorts. With a name like that, she’s either going to inspire or make one consider whether to question having faith in her.  Unfortunately, so far, she’s chosen the latter as her mantra. She’s caught in the cycle of poverty, unknowingly perpetuating it herself with her poor choices.  Pregnant at 17 by a married man who promised her love, she now nurses a precious baby girl and wonders about true love and whether love is really true.  She’s unable to go back to school because, who in their right mind in this community would help when “she chose this road and now she must walk down it.”  Meanwhile, alone, abused and neglected, she is sent away from her so-called home with her small child.  She is searching for something – anything - to put her faith in. 

I’m overcome by sadness at the hopelessness that plagues her and countless other young girls as they search for love in all the wrong places. “I love you Faith.  I love you with all my heart.  I desperately want you to know true, unconditional love,“ both God and I yell loudly, but seemingly not loudly enough for her to hear.

Then, out of the blue, Faith (the girl and the concept) calls me on the phone, as if questioning my own. 

“Can you help me?” 
“What do you need, Faith?” 
“I need some soap and diapers for the baby.” 

Soap and diapers?  Is that what faith is looking for today…soap and diapers? I can do that. 

“What else?”  I silently scream in my mind, “How about a life? A Future?  Hope? True Love?”

And I start to wonder, if faith inspires action, what action will inspire this Faith?

We finish talking and I hang up the phone and pray,  “Help my Faith God.  Help me discern what You’re doing.”

The answer slowly unfolds over time.  Through an implausible web of relationships, a Mama on the other side of Kenya, who has never met Faith but who lives by her name, hears her story.  She approaches me and, as if speaking with the voice of God, asks me where my sweet Faith is... the Faith I love and wrestle over.  Mama has an idea.  What if she helps with the baby so Faith can flourish in the love of her home, go to trade school, and reclaim the intended purpose of her name? 

Though challenged and thwarted on many levels, as faith often is, God eventually brought Faith to Kijabe. This week on Mother’s day, I had the chance to sit with Faith for several hours on my back porch.  She’s been here for many weeks, but it was the first opportunity I've had to spend time with her.  She poured out her heart, speaking of rejection, abuse, beatings, and her search for love.  She is still disillusioned in many respects, but, remarkably, she still has hope and is still searching for her significance.  I pray she will find it in Jesus alone and that through Him she will live up to the high calling of her name. 

Just like James in the Bible, my faith and Faith are in process.  Faith’s future depends on trusting God, good choices, consistent action, and steady progress forward even when things are difficult.  So does mine.