We are in Nairobi now for a few more days after having attended AIM’s annual conference. The kids had a blast, enjoying being in a “kid’s club” for 4 days, we hardly saw them! Jesse,- I think scared by the multitudes of toddlers, never before has he had so many wazungu children. We hope to gather supplies, pack up and head to the “green” cabin at Eldama Ravine for a few days of R & R before we return to Kurungu. Thanks for you who pray for our travels. We had a rather uneventful trip down, save seeing some elephants in the wild. We even managed to find enough diesel for the whole trip!
I always marvel at the advent, at the thought that “God came down to dwell among us”. It never ceases to amaze me. He is God, He could save us in any number of ways, why the incarnation? Probably my favourite name of God is Emmanuel, “God with us”. There is great comfort in knowing that He is with us, with me. And although He was God, He was man. He chose to know us the best way He could, to become like us. To know hunger, and sickness and sorrow and passion and joy. He was all powerful yet limited HImself. He lived a vulnerable, magnificent, perfect, and agonizing life so that He could intercede, understand, take our place, love us perfectly.
I believe that God is not threatened by my questions of why. As I weave through tangled thoughts, some happy and joyful at the coming Season, the healing of Saidimo, the wonder of our children as they grow, and some deeply saddened by the things I have seen and experienced, by little Jonah and his suffering, the cardboard cradle and the disparities here. It is not an angry “why” just a sincere one. Why? I take comfort that He is ok with my question, while knowing that His Love is too High for me to truly understand what He is doing. Love too High,- kind of like Emmanuel. Who would have ever guessed that He would love as much to choose to become like us?
Toothfairy Faith Jay and I have the worst luck with the tooth fairy. Well, let’s re-phrase that, we are awful, terrible parents, who have killed the naive belief that the tooth fairy is a reliable source of childhood revenue. The Callaghan tooth fairy, has made many excuses for her absent deposits, including having been chased by a cat, lost in a thunderstorm (of course everyone knows a fairy can’t fly with wet wings), forgotten we had moved. We have had to explain why the tooth fairy hasn’t shown, and once, quite awkwardly had to explain why the tooth fairy left a Chuckie Cheese token instead of a dollar coin. The tooth fairy has made our children cry on more than one occasion. Once Nathan burst into tears at the no-show tooth fairy believing that the vicks-vapo-rub on his chest had killed her. He went around all day believing that he was responsible for her death, which is a heavy burden for a kindergartener to bear. Lily wrote an appeal note and placed it under her pillow, stating, “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!” Yes, we are awful parents. I remember speaking once about Lily’s tooth fairy note. And marvelling at the faith of a little girl who despite great disappointments continued firm in her conviction that the tooth fairy would make good on her promises. . I think about that now,- after another missed tooth fairy incident last week, this time citing ‘time zone’ complications as the reason for the delay. But I think this week, I want to write a note and put it under my pillow. God, “I do believe in your goodness, I do I do!”. I want to affirm God’s goodness even though I do not understand it. And faith is like that. Believing in something I may not be able to see or understand or comprehend or fathom, but hoping for it, knowing it to be true despite the shaky and ever changing ground which is my reality. Of course, God is not like the Callaghan tooth fairy, He does not disappoint because of laziness or tiredness or forgetfulness. He does not forget to show up, but sometimes it feels that way, especially when I do not understand what He is doing.
When I have more questions of why, when the things I think are good, like healing for Jonah, don’t seem to happen. It is in these moments that I need to affirm that I do believe in His goodness. The Psalmist wrote ‘tooth fairy notes’ too,- he poured out his heart, his hurts, his disappointment and disbelief,
“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck, I sink in the miry depths where there is no foothold… I am worn out from calling for help, my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God….”
“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “Let God be exalted”. ” (Ps 69 1-3; 70:4)
I know despite the sorrow, the pain the narrow view, the limited understanding…. that God’s love is being poured out upon Jonah. I have to admit that I was somewhat dreading visiting Jonah and Monica in the hospital this week. I didn’t know if I could handle the sorrow which has been so near to me, with hearing of the sufferings of this little boy, to face them directly, looking into the faces of two Samburu who have taken hold of my heart. Love costs, it hurts. It would be much easier to close my heart, to shut out their faces, to limit my investment of care or energy. But there is no love in that. Love does not exist without sacrifice and I would venture to say that sacrifice is impossible outside the context of sincere love. Not that my compassion is great. It is flawed, it is needy, it is troubled. I lean on Jesus’ words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). And I haven’t felt so weak, so powerless as I did as I entered Jonah’s room.
There was one second of recognition, a shared glance at Mama Monica, and in that second I saw the deep pain in her eyes mixed with her steady resolve to keep going… and for just a minute she allowed herself to be swallowed by grief, pouring out tears and sobs for the little boy who no longer recognizes her, who can not speak, who is blind. We sat there in silence, as tears creeped down her cheeks and looked upon with raw sorrow and love, little Jonah. I can not imagine what Monica must be feeling, joy that her son did not die, but questions about what his future will bring. Raising a little boy with significant disabilities will be a great challenge in the bush. She is bravely learning how to do physiotherapy to help Jonah’s muscles from wasting. My offering of a hug and words were small, and limited with my stuttering Swahili and nominal Samburu. We helped Jonah get up to a wheelchair to sit in the sun. His moans with movement indicate to a small degree the painful struggle his body endures.
Flowering Olive And as I write this, as I wrestle with realty, I realize that I do not want to wade through life with a begrudging faith, moving from challenge to difficulty enveloped in a layer of insipid belief in His promises. Why not rejoice, even in sickness, for we know the strength of the Great Physician; why not praise even in death, for there is a Redeemer? Why not be thankful in sufferings, for Jesus understands our trial and bears our burdens. Why not be generous in times of poverty, for He is our portion. And I am not speaking of the (often) insincere trite “Christian call phrases”, I am talking about the deep conviction that allows me to know these things to be true. I may not feel them, experience them, see them, understand them in their fullness, but I believe in them. I can chose to move beyond the type of faith which believes with nominal sincerity and insipid emotion and chose instead to rejoice. There is so much yet to rejoice in to let the limitations of my understanding of how God is acting out His plan darken the lens of my joy in the unchanging nature of Who He is.
But I am like an olive tree,
flourishing in the house of God:
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
I will praise you forever for what you have done;
in your name I will hope, for your name is Good”
Ps 52: 8,9
Will try to post some recent pictures soon: including bow and arrow bonanza, elephants in the wild and hopefully some of our R&R in the ravine!
love & blessings, L