But each time He said to me,

My grace is enough for you.

My power is made perfect in your weakness”.

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It’s Not Fair

Can I be honest about 2015? 

It has been amazing – because it has been harder than I ever would have imagined. The year rocked what I thought it would be, from my roles to where CPR-3 would go to what would happen (broken ankle?).

But instead of talking about the amazing – let’s talk about the “harder”.

I cannot count how many times I have thought or had a thought that could be linked to the idea, “it’s not fair”.

The neighbors are mad at me, at the whole house, over nothing – over expectations created over our skin color. It’s not fair.

I feel alone, I am hurting, I can’t even get the internet to connect to reach out to someone to comfort me. It’s not fair.

I am sick, again. I am never sick in the States and I seem to get sick at least once a month here – both with the typical (a cold) and the abnormal (typhoid). I moved here for YOU and now I’m always sick and can’t even do the work I’m supposed to. It’s not fair.

I didn’t sign up for the role I’m in, and I’m bad at it, and I’m stressed. It’s not fair.

No one understands me, 10% because of language and 90% because of the Grand Canyon of cultural differences. It’s not fair.*

So let’s talk about today. December 20th, 2015. 

Haley is watching Rolensky (TiKris’ son) and TiKris and her cousin Bo walk in and start giggling with us, talking with Rolensky, and just being teenage girls. They’re pet name for Rolensky is ‘Tello.

From Christello.

From the nickname that I gave him when TiKris was still pregnant and I talked to the little boy in her stomach.

Let me tell you, I have not been able to see my favorites – or many people – around the community this year. I have not been over TiKris’ shoulder or constantly seeing Rolensky and calling him Christello. In fact, to respect his actual name, I call him Rolensky…only to have everyone else referring to him as ‘Tello!

TiKris reflected today about how he got the name when I asked her what his dad (who named him) thinks of it, “When I was pregnant with him, you talked to him and he would respond (she laughs here) and translate what he said to us! I tell his dad, that’s where he got the name!”

And she laughs and looks back down at her son with that lit of face of hers, playing with him and talking to him. Sharing a snack with him. Just loving that lil boy.

And I come back down to continue this child sponsorship spreadsheet and I am just overcome with…..God, it is not fair.

It is so unfair.

The scales are tipped and it is SO clearly NOT fair – for You.

I am selfish, I chase comfort like I should chase the lost, I am afraid when I know that there is nothing that can touch me in Your name. I am lazy when You have given me potential and I am quite the slow learner through the opportunities to learn that I instead complain about.

It is so unfair – for my benefit and against His – that I get to be in an ongoing relationship that is deep enough where ‘Tello is the nickname for this lil boy and his big eyes.

The nickname seems like a silly thing to get emotional over, but I can’t explain to you the intimacy and reflection of intertwined lives that it shows to ME. I cannot transfer the experiences of the past three years – from when I saw a preteen stranger that another intern commented was beautiful, to becoming a part of that girl’s family, to seeing ups and downs, to learning she was pregnant and scared, to seeing she was pregnant and happy, to driving in the middle of the night to a hospital that would accept her, to watching her grow as a mom and see her son’s dimple show up whenever she talks to him to now…and so many things being prayed for in between, and a lifetime ahead of us. I cannot communicate it or share what has happened in the details in three years of knowing her. But “‘Tello” reflected all of that to me today and I can’t not share how completely unfair my life is. For Him.

It’s not fair, guys. No candle can be held, no comparison can be made, no weights can handle the vast difference of the favor to me and the unfairness to Him as He sits enthroned in heaven, surrounded by cheribum, Commander of Heaven’s Armies, Prince of Peace, director of the Universe, perfect Father…..who I can make time for, “for the most part”.

I am surrounded by painted walls to make this home and an electric fan that is on – despite the struggles with electricity this entire nation faces. I am able to use both feet on a daily basis. I have two amazing – I mean, you couldn’t hand pick better people – young women that are doing life with me as they participate in Compassion Corp. I have supporters sacrificing for me – for me?! My family is amazing and something to be missed as opposed to run away from. My “family” here has endless patience and teaching for me. I have seen prayers on prayers on prayers answered. This does not even scratch the surface.

It is not fair. And I am so, so thankful. I just might cry typing about how unfair it is.

Not fair at all.

*I want to MAKE SURE to mention that EVERY ONE OF THESE complaints, is not a complaint at all. I am not using today to expound one by one on these examples; but all of them, every one, has been a lesson. Every one has turned to rejoicing. Every one has refined me, taught me, stretched me, grown me. I would not take back one of them. They have taught me joy, perspectives on eternity, perspectives on Christ, perseverance, real values, who to turn to in hardship, contentment, self-control, patience, faith, and so much more. These – all of them – only compound on the idea that it is not fair – in HIS favor. I am a slow to learn child, angry at suffering even though I know it’s good for me. Taking the exam twice because I refuse to face it head on the first time like I know I should. Praying for patience and then wanting it granted like a fairy tale wish as opposed to learning it myself in a process gifted to me through Him. All of these things, every one, has been a portrait of His unfair – in HIS favor – grace and patience and teaching and good parenting towards ME. I am thankful for every one, and I would abhor for this post to lead to you to feel bad for me, think that I am miserable, or focus on what our comfort-oriented Western minds would say is a bad thing.

Sleeping Beauty

As I listened to Acts 20 today, I can’t help but celebrate the very nature of God and how He works.

In Acts, a missionary* named Paul is fired up with good news to share. He’s traveling all over the place with this news (the gospel) and is bursting with this news in such a way that in his last night in an area called Troas, he stays up late into the night talking as there is so much to share before he leaves.

I see this in teams, by the way. The last night that a dozen or so strangers that have become family are staying here in Bercy, both laughter and deep conversation can be heard into the early hours of the morning – and there are always jokes about the lack of sleep as they load up to go to the airport the next day. Something in the human condition about the “last night”.

Anyways, back to the story.

So, like any good meeting of believers, someone is not as thrilled as Paul and therefore is falling asleep – despite the fact that the room is well lit. Now I’m making assumptions here…good ol’ buddy could have worked his tail off that day, or he could have a newborn at home that keeps him up at night. He could easily be on fire in his own city already.

But I like to think, because of the way I have seen God’s character in my own life, that this man – Eutychus – was bored. Paul “spoke on and on” – that’s how the Word says it in verse 9! Maybe Eutychus would have described it as “droning on and on….”? Obviously Eutychus found some benefit to it – he made time to be there! But it wasn’t putting a fire in his soul. He was showing up, but falling asleep. This live and active sword wasn’t even a dull knife that night. Maybe it was a season of his faith, or maybe he had been attracted to Jesus – showing up on Sundays, volunteering, making it a priority for kids – but not all in. At least not like Paul, who apparently put sleep second in the face of the Savior. The Word of God was not fire to his bones, breath to his lungs, fresh water to his thirsty existence – in that moment.

So then, as he nodded off while sitting in the windowsill…let me just copy and paste this from the Sword itself, in verse 9, “Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below.”

His lukewarm attitude did not just put him to sleep – it killed Eutychus!

But God.

But God, who “been done” warned His people about the kind of faith that isn’t worth staying awake for – does not leave Him there.

He could have said, “Welp. There you go. Dug your own grave there.”

It’s not like Paul had done anything, or God had either, to cause this. It was a man falling asleep in a window, one of those accidents you hear about on the news or in shared stories on your newsfeed! Tragic, especially when it seems so senseless – falling out of a window because he is sleeping?

But God. “Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!”. Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved.” (verses 10-11)

What does God do?

He takes the very one in the room who was put to sleep by the good news, and in a moment (one that would seem like a generally daily occurrence – sleeping – or a tragic accident – the fall and death), turns the most unlikely guy in the meeting to the newest missionary of Troas, zealous and probably having countless meetings of his OWN that keep people up late into the night as he talks about what God did!

The Bible does not tell us more about this man – but what it DOES do is give his name and where He lived – or at least, where the accident happened. This is on purpose. It is because this was a real man, and real people reading the true accounts of Acts were able to read this account and say, “Eutychus? Of Troas? I’ve heard of this guy, man! You know how Marcus was telling us about that one guy who sounded nuts – wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus and the resurrection and all? He was always talking people’s hears off! Anyone who listened, he kept talking about that night he fell three stories and the Lord brought him back.”

This was a real person, who went from falling asleep as Paul talked “on and on…” to most likely BEING the one who talked on and on!

I cannot emphasize my love for this character trait of God. Taking dead things and bringing them to life. Throwing lukewarm water out the window and going to fill the vessel with new, cold, refreshing water that keeps you going back for more.

We all know that faith is full of seasons. It’s not a one time process, this revival God breathes! I have seasons where I can wake up early and stay up late with Him, and others where if I’m up late – it’s because I’d like to rewatch a season of The Office – again. I might pull out my Bible but I’m bored by the miraculous. Heard it before, life is on my mind, I’m tired.

God takes those who are asleep and instead of giving up on them, it’s his very NATURE to instead bring them to life!

One of my favorite verses talks about this too, someone is describing the Lord and says in 2 Samuel 14:14, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

Come on, ya’ll.

One more thing. I’ve just gotta post the Message version of that next morning, and what God started in Troas as Paul left…

Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. “No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.” Then Paul got up and served the Master’s Supper. And went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves.

And full of life themselves. That is a good word. Wonder what life looked like for that group, for Eutychus, after that night. All because of the character of God.

(*”missionary” is not a job, but someone who is going out with a goal of making disciples who make disciples. If you know Christ, you are a missionary)