Monday, September 16, 2013

A Time of Rededication: A Song, a Message, and a Prayer

On Friday morning, after a trip of about forty-eight hours, I returned to Kitale, Kenya, where I will be until early June, 2014.  That seems like a very long time to be away from loved ones, especially my children and Michael.  It is true that I have left before, many times, for even longer periods.  But having done it before, doesn't make it easier now.  Knowing what I know, knowing what can happen in times apart, knowing the fragility of life, can make it more difficult.  This was evidenced in the death of a dear friend and elder, John Lambers, while I traveled to Kitale.  In an instant, I'm reminded of how far away I am from loved ones - how unable I am to reach out to hug, to be present, to share in the grieving and in the joy of my church family.

And so I find myself in a time of rededication to my Lord and God: of myself, my loved ones, my calling, and my work; I imagine that this is something that we are all called to do on occasion, wherever we are. And so, just as I have been ministered to in various ways this weekend through various venues, let me share those with you, in case you too are in need of some encouragement.

Last week, at Madison Square Church, we were led in worship in a song that commanded us to "Go, go, go..." and I found myself thinking about how easy those words are to sing...and how difficult to do.  This weekend, I have been singing Michael Neale's mix of Take my life/I am Yours, as can be heard here.  The words, at times, are an effort of my brain to bring my heart along: Take my life, You are all I live for, I am yours.

I then listened to a message from Pastor Joy Bonnema, from Madison Square Church, who reminds us so passionately of the power of the Holy Spirit that is ours as we are sent out (Acts 1:8) and that we are not called to stay in our comfort zone.  To hear her message and passion, and her own remarkable testimony of going, you can hear it here: 

Lastly at the Christian Reformed World Missions Orientation this past summer, Patty Hogan shared some prayers from the book called, Guerillas of Grace: Prayers For the Battle, by Ted Loder.  I quickly got myself a copy and have been ministered to by these prayers as well. This prayer in particular speaks to where I am right now:
Turn your Spirit Loose
O God, turn your Spirit loose now,
and me with it,
that I may go to where the edge is
to face with you the shape of my mortality:
the inescapable struggle and loneliness and pain 
which remind me
that I am less than god after all,
that you have made me with hard limits,
limits to my strength,
my knowledge,
my days.

Facing those limits, Lord,
grant me grace
to live to the limit
of being unflinchingly alive,
irrepressibly alive,
fully alive,
of experiencing
every fragile,
beautiful ounce of being a human being;
of doing my duty and a little more;
of loving the people around me, my friends and my enemies;
of humbling myself to take others seriously and delightedly;
of applying my heart to the wisdom of simplicity, the freedom of honestly.

O God, turn your Spirit loose here, and me with it,
that I may go to where the silence is
to face with you the utter mystery
of questions without answers,
pain without balm,
sorrow without comfort,
and fears without relief,
which hound my days
and haunt my sleep.

Facing the mystery, Lord,
grant me grace 

to wrestle with it
until I name the fears
and force them to set me free
to move on with whatever limp I'm left with;

to wrestle with it
until the pain teach me 
and I befriend it,
until the silence subdues me
into an awareness that it is holy
and I am healed by it;

to wrestle with it
until I go deeper in it
to gratitude
for all the shapes of wholeness
and of hope that bless me.

 O God,
turn your Spirit loose now,
and me with it,
that I may go to where the darkness is
to face with you the terrible uncertainty of tomorrow:
of what will happen,
what might happen,
what could happen,
to me
and to my children
and to my friends,
to my job,
to my relationships,
to my country;
all that I cannot see, but fantasize,
that I would prevent, but cannot,
and so must accept as possibilities.

Facing the uncertainty, Lord,
grant me grace
to look at it directly and openly and truly,
to laugh at it with crazy faith
in the crazy promise
that nothing can separate me from your love;
to laugh for the joy of it,
the joy of those saving surprises
that also stir in the darkness.
And, so, I trust,
despite the dark uncertainty of tomorrow,
in the light of my todays,
in the cross,
and in a kingdom coming,
and, so, I move on and pray on
with Jesus, my friend and redeemer.
Unflinchingly alive.  Crazy faith.  Crazy promise.  Indeed.  Amen and amen.