Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Mother's Sacrificial Love, and Gift

August 14th, 2011
It's cool. Droplets dance through the campus square. The August rains have come. In just a short time, it will be impossible to pass from one hall to another. The heavens will open and the flooding will commence. It doesn't last long, however. An hour or so and the soon to be muddy pathways will again return to dust. I've been in university for nearly three years. It has been three years.

April 21, 2008
My heart barely beats. Outside my room the flowers bloom in red and orange, the grasses dance with breeze, yet inside I am dark. Torn, but hopeful. Mournful. I have come - come to give life to this one, and come to restore my own. Israel is kind. He has taken me in, fed me, clothed me, given me tasks, if only for a short time. My little one is resting quietly now. He has formula in his belly. He has eaten more today than in the past week. In the past month it seems. Thank you God. The women here are gentle and caring. They give me respite. Safety. Finally, safety.

I can't stop the tears that come with evening. As I fall asleep sorrow floods my dreams. Oh what has become of me, still a child myself? Cast out, abandoned. My lover, gone. My roots, severed. Condemnation flows through my veins, I cannot escape it. The night seems endless. Is there hope in the morning....Yes.....I know this to be true. For I have seen Hope, he gazed into my eyes as I awoke. Reveal. There is Hope in the morning, his name is Reveal.

So I walk through the gardens of this compound, one eye sheds pain, one sheds joy. I know my past and it pains me. How quickly my dreams eroded with the winter floods. Alas, as my feet pass through the new growth that only water brings, I know I have a Redeemer. As I call out to His name, He shows Himself to me, His grace washes over me, His mercy covers me. Will He help me bare the pain of my separation? When I leave this compound, and leave my baby, too? Is my God able to carry this burden? I can't. I just can't. Oh, my sweet Revelation. My sweet Reveal.

Back on Campus
Three years. How my heart longs to embrace you. Yet though I long, I have great hope for you. They tell me she is kind, loving, a beautiful woman of God. I don't understand how God works. How God can give a stranger the heart of a mother for a child not born to her. I don't understand, but I believe. I believe, I see it in her eyes. She has eyes for you.

I go home on holidays. I walk the streets of our town and remember the soil of labor across my brow, you clinging to my waste. I remember the day you stopped crying. You had succumbed to hunger. Please forgive me my son. Know in my heart that I desired life for you. Know I loved you dearly. Know I would have wasted away my own life to save yours. Even so, I saw death becoming you. I had but one resolve, to save you.

Three years. Your plane lifted off that evening. From the valley I looked to the sky to see you. Today I recognize your departure was an arrival. Your arrival home. And, though we live worlds apart, my heart carries you with me. Whether we meet when you return, or we reunite in eternity, you are my sweet Reveal - and He, He alone is our great Redeemer.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Purpose

I wouldn't presume to believe that I have anything to offer to anyone except that which has been revealed to me by God, that is, Spiritual Truth.

Additionally, I would never presume to believe that I have "arrived," spiritually speaking. Furthermore, I will boldly say to everyone - every day people like me, and scholars alike - the only people who have "arrived" are those who have passed from this side of eternity to their final destinations.

This blog is an opportunity for me to write my thoughts. If God so chooses to use this blog to grow my faith or to reach others with His good news of redemption, then I will praise Him. One thing I do know is this: I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand that I may walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 NKJ). Knowing this Truth means if I surrender my will to His will in reverence and obedience, He is able to, through me, do anything He wants to.

I also believe that my role as a father includes a biblical mandate (Deut. 6) to train my sons to be husbands and fathers (preferably in that order) who will honor God in their relationships with their wives and children (again, preferably in that order). This blog serves to assist my day to day interaction with my kids and leaves them a written legacy to marry with my "lived out" faith.

One more thought....

Hebrews 4:12 states this,

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

I wholeheartedly believe this Truth. That said, as I alluded to above, I know that I have not "arrived". I am not a spiritual guru by any means. While it may be hard to read this, you are not a spiritual guru either. I believe there is one True translation and I wouldn't presume to have mastered it, nor will I until the Lord brings me home. This means that you and I may disagree on biblical matters. This is okay. I call on my brother Paul, he says it so well in his letter to the churches of Ephesus:

Therefore I (and me), the prisoner (I a soldier and slave) of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB.

While we may disagree, we must maintain our love and unity in Christ Jesus. There are so many reasons to do so, perhaps the biggest reason of all is because the world is watching.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Return to Rainier

It had been nearly three years since I had last been up at Camp Muir. On July 31, 2008 my wife and I set out with our group to summit Mt Rainier. We had a great group to climb with and we had been training for 8 months or so.

On this day, July 23, 2011, Li Cai, a Chinese university student living with us, and myself, left the Paradise parking lot at 9:30 to hike up to Muir. This previous winter had been a heavy one with larger amounts of snow fall for longer into the spring. This bodes well for the hiker heading to Camp Muir as the route is quicker with fewer switchbacks on the rocky trails. For this hike, the snow was still down to the parking lot.

We took a rest at 9,000 feet to gain our composure for the final ascent. Paradise starts at 5,400 feet elevation with Camp Muir resting at 10,188'. It was sunny and warm and the lower oxygen levels were probably taking a toll on us.

The final ascent to Muir is deceiving. I have learned this from hiking this route a few times before. When you can first see the Camp, it seems just a few minutes away. Alas, it's about another hour. I knew this and just kept my head down.

With about 250' of elevation to go I looked up and saw the hut. The Hut. This Hut that is so full of memories, yet we only stayed in it for 12 hours, most of this time sleeping. It's the hut we stayed in on the evening of July 31, 2008.

On this day, they gave me no warning. These tears of mine started to seep from my eyes. I wasn't expecting them and they had now clouded my vision. Just three years prior I was hiking this part of the trail with great anticipation. Lea and I were strong. 40# packs on our shoulders. Lea, myself, and one other woman in our group arrived at Camp Muir first. We were strong.

But oddly enough, these tears were not full of disappointment, rather, love. They could have easily been painful tears. Having trained for 8 months to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime event only to be abruptly stopped by mother nature. For, at 1 AM on the morning of August 1, 2008, our guides came into the hut to tell us it didn't look good. Winds had topped 70 miles an hour and sleet was raining down. Just to make it to the out house, about 30 feet from the hut, was life threatening, or so it seemed. My lasting memory is of my wife. We laid on our bunk together and I looked over to her. A soft tear dripped from her eye and ran down her cheek. I will never forget it.

So on this day I lifted my head to locate The Hut, and tears flowed. Loving tears of gratefulness that I had a wife who loved me, who loved God, and who loved her kids. My beautiful wife.

I arrived to the Camp with relief. I felt good, but it was time to rest. I found a sunny rock that was angled perfectly. I took off my pack, laid back and slept for 45 minutes in the warm sun.

The Descent

Rest time was over and it was time to get off this mountain. There are plenty of memories to share of my descent on August 1, 2008, but perhaps those are best said in person. This day I was the last hiker of our group onto the trail heading down. For the greater of half the way down God stepped into my heart and revived me with His Lovingkindness, Psalms 119:89. Memories of traveling with my wife to Ethiopia, just two days after our summit attempt, to bring home my now 4 year old son. The trials and tribulations we faced in Addis Ababa, the first glimpse of Tekeste in his crib. His MASSIVE ear infection that grossed out Lea. Her response still makes me laugh. How quickly T latched onto me. His grip was his way of saying "Dad, you came for me. Please don't leave me, even for a second." And I will never forget returning home to my then 4 1/2 year old son. Seeing Liam at the airport, embracing him. My love for him is indescribable. I will never forgot that hug.

God has unique ways of ministering to our hearts. While I do anticipate encountering God everywhere I go, this day was special. It is these special times between my Father and I that reaffirm in my heart that I am a Sold Out Christ Follower.