Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Early Morning Musings

My mind is full and whirling- We are starting a new term of work in the Philippines and the demands are everywhere! Then this morning in bed I got to thinking….

My head is full of all I need to prepare for the workshops I will be teaching – one a month so far through till December BUT it is for a job I love and I keep hearing affirmation that says the material and time is helpful.

My head is full of trying to figure out how to juggle being with my daughter in the birth of her first baby while I have workshops scheduled in and around the due date. BUT how blessed I am that my daughter wants me to be part of this awesome experience with them!

My head is full of special requests- can you teach my son piano? Can you counsel me as I have been through a terrible year? BUT what a privilege that I can play piano and enjoy it. (Thanks Hebron and Miss Fountain!) What a privilege that a friend wants my listening ear- isn’t that a deep compliment?

My head is full of plans, dreams, visions on what I would like to do in the next year or so. I would like to work on another set of materials to serve churches in partnership with missions. I would love to get a committee together to host a celebration (day or weekend?) for adult MKs (missionary kids) here in Manila. I would love to get more reading done. Love to get back into shape. Love to learn some harder pieces on the piano….. I know these plans will only be successful as I lay them before my Master Planner and work in union with him.

So I start this day with my head full and heart at peace. How is your day going?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Something I wrote for a ladies outreach

Mary’s true story

I can hear my mom’s deep sobs in the next bedroom and Dad’s angry barrage against this unexpected news. “ Where did we go wrong? She was such a good girl. What on earth was Jo thinking! What till I get my hands on that young man!”

I had just told my parents that I was pregnant.

I knew they would blow up and so didn’t dare add the extra blow- it wasn’t even Jo’s baby! Jo and I were engaged almost a year ago and everything seemed so right and good for our future. I had grown up in a godly home with good morals. I was known in the community as that quiet, respectable girl that every mother dreamed of tagging for her son. Everyone knew Jo too. He was that stable kind of guy you need and want in a husband. Mature with a good job already. Everything was so perfect until now!

I sat on my bed hugging my knees. The look on Jo’s face when I told him I was pregnant haunted me. He face contorted with pain and his jaws tightened and twitched. He said nothing but turned around and slowly walked away. This was so confusing. I know it hurts him to think I was with someone else. Should I tell Jo the secret of whose baby this is? Is the truth any easier to bear than what he was thinking now? How could he possibly understand! I don’t even understand how this happened? Oh, God, what do I do now? When I checked out to confirm the pregnancy, one of my first thoughts was should I get rid of the baby? Its still early. This baby is just going to mess up my future with Jo, my relationship with my folks. But as I kept thinking about it, the mere thought of getting rid of this little one made me sick in my stomach- more than the morning sickness!

The phone rang. I let it ring several times before I picked it up. It was Jo! I shut my eyes ready for his burst of anger, but instead I heard a deep sigh. “Mary,” he said, “ I don’t know what happened to us. How this happened to you. You tell me it was not a rape so what am I supposed to believe? I have been thinking it over and as much as I love you, I am willing to release you from our engagement so you can be with the baby’s father if that is what you want. You can even use the excuse of our broken engagement as the reason why you went off with someone else. I just wanted to tell you I still love you and I pray the best for you and the little one you carry; and hope the father will be good to both of you.” Click, the phone went dead before I could say anything. It would have been less painful if he had stabbed me with a knife.

I don’t know how long I lay in my tears when Mom came into the room and sat beside me on the bed. “Mary, I don’t know if I should be excited that you will make me a grandmother or angry and just tell you to walk out of the house and never show your face here again. But you are our daughter and we love you no matter what you have done. When you are ready you can try to explain some of this to us but in the meantime, your dad and I have been talking and have a suggestion for you. Everyone around here knows you and Jo, so we wonder if you want to get away from here for a while. Dad’s cousin, Lizzie, is actually going to be giving birth soon and could use some help around the place for a while. It will be a chance for you to learn from her how to care for a baby. What do you think?” I didn’t say anything. What could I say? What else could I do? Where else could I go? It may be good to get away from the accusing looks and whispered gossip that will soon be spreading around town. It would be good to be far away so I won’t bump into Jo anywhere.

So it was decided and after Mom and I shopped i for a few maternity clothes, I soon found myself heading for the mountains escaping all that was familiar and dear to me. When would I return? Would I ever get back? I was too tired trying to make any sense of it all and put my head back and slept from sheer exhaustion.

Maybe many of you hearing my story can identify with things up till now. Some facts may be different but you know how I feel. But what I am about to tell you next will be something nobody can identify with. You see I am not living in Canada and the time is not 2007- I put my story in your context but actually I lived in Judea 2,000 years ago.You may have heard my story before. You have heard of my famous baby before- he is the one named Jesus the Christ.

To make sense of this whole pregnancy and birth of my baby we need to go back to the beginning. Not my beginning, but the beginning of all time.

In the beginning was God. The self sufficient, Holy One. God has existed forever and has no start or end. He is all-powerful and is completely good and loving. He is a creator God and made the universe. His word is all-powerful. He just said, “Let there be light” and suddenly there was light. In an orderly way, God made the dry land, plants and animals. God looked at what He had created and it was perfect.

Then God created the best last. He created people. Everyday, the first people (Adam and Eve) and God talked together. They had a perfect friendship. Adam and Eve were like God’s own children. God knew that if He forced people to love and serve Him, then people had no dignity. He wanted people to CHOOSE to love and serve Him. So God gave people freedom. He told Adam and Eve that they could eat anything EXCEPT the fruit of one tree in the garden. The day they ate that fruit, they would die. So God made the choice very clear ‘choose life or choose death”. Now there was an angel that became proud and was thrown out of heaven. He is called Satan and he has ever since tried to destroy the relationship between God and people. He used a very clever method. Satan worked through a beautiful snake. The snake said to Eve, hoping that she would begin to doubt God’s goodness to them, “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat ANY of the fruit in the garden.” Eve wasn’t tricked so easily. “oh no, most fruit we can eat. Only the fruit of one tree is forbidden. If we eat that fruit we will die.” Satan immediately contradicted God. “You will not die! God knows that when you eat that fruit you will become like God.” Wow, that sounds good and the fruit was so shiny and beautiful.

She chose to rebel against God and listen to Satan. She also gave some fruit to her husband and he also rebelled against God’s clear word.

Immediately they rejected God they felt ashamed. They tried to cover their naked bodies and hide in fear and embarrassment.. God came to have his walk in the garden with them, but they hid from him. Their perfect friendship with God had been destroyed. God called out and said, “Where are you?” Did he know where they were? Of course, He knows everything. So, why did God ask this question? He wanted them to approach Him and admit that they had rebelled against him and say sorry.

But what did Adam and Eve do? They started to pass the responsibility. Eve blamed the snake. Adam had the audacity to blame not only Eve but God , “The woman YOU gave me”. His meaning was clear. If you hadn’t created this woman for me, I wouldn’t be in this mess!

God was very sad because He knew the suffering that this rebellion would cause. Every person looks to themselves or anything else but God to find meaning to life. The result would be arguments, divorce, war and much more. People would no longer care for the world but would try to exploit it, never thinking of the floods, pollution and misery that they were causing.

Perhaps Adam and Eve thought that Satan was right, they hadn’t died when they ate the fruit. The reality was that rebellion against God inevitably leads to death, spiritual death- separation from God forever. From the moment of their rebellion, they walked on death’s road.

In the midst of all God’s judgment, God showed mercy. He gave people hope through a wonderful promise. Although the descendents of Adam and Eve would continue to be hated by Satan, one day someone would come who would defeat Satan. Yes, only God can defeat Satan. This wonderful promise was that God Himself would one day come and save the world. The day I got pregnant that promise came true.

You see I didn’t have sex with any one to get pregnant. Believe it or not I was a virgin till after Jesus was born. Jesus is God taking on human flesh. Since Adam and Eve’s time, everyone was waiting for the promised Saviour. They waited and waited. Then one day an angel appeared to me. I told you it would be hard to believe! But it is true. You can imagine how frightened I was to see an angel because you don’t see one of those every day! The angel said to me, “You are going to have a baby.” And I said, “How can that happen since I’m a virgin?” The angel said, “God is going to do a miracle and put a baby in your womb.” You will have a son and his name will be Jesus, which means “God saves”. He will also have another name, Emmanuel, which means “God with us”.

That is the secret I was carrying of how I got pregnant. It was all pretty overwhelming! After I was at my Aunt’s place for a few months I did come back home. And guess who was there to meet me. Jo! He told me an angel had come to him as well and told him how I had got pregnant and that I shouldn’t give you up, but marry you! Wow, it was so good to have someone else know my secret and it was great to be back with Jo. You know the story of how Jo and I had to go back to our home town for a government census taking. I was almost full term pregnant and the travel was exhausting. When we got to Bethlehem there was not one motel room available and in the end I had to give birth in a smelly old animal barn. You know the story too of our first visitors, the shepherds that first night. After that we moved into a home and in a few years there were these very wealthy men from the East who came because they had found out that I had given birth to a very significant child. Their gifts helped us out as we set up our carpentry shop and had more children. Jo and I didn’t feel it was our place to be telling the world about Jesus, our son. Sometimes we even forgot ourselves that he was actually God come in the flesh. When the time was right God would let the world know.

It was when Jesus turned 30 that I once again realized who my son really was! He was God come in flesh to tell us good news.

I remember one night, a council member named Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus. Jesus said a very strange thing to him. He said, “to know God you must first be born again!” Nicodemus didn’t understand and wondered how a grown man could possibly enter his mother’s womb to be born again. But Jesus wasn’t talking about physical birth. His meaning was that to truly be friends with God it is like being spiritually reborn. We need a new start. Just as it is impossible for people to be re -enter their mother’s womb, we cannot save ourselves. No person can find this new life themselves. This new start is a miracle that only God can do. Only God can give us new life. This was the good news my son had been sent to teach and I was thrilled that I played a part in it all.

For the next three years Jesus was not at home but doing his heavenly father’s will- teaching, healing and comforting the hurting. But one very frightening night it seemed to all come to a crashing halt. One of Jesus’ best friends betrayed him to the religious leaders, who were jealous and fearful of Jesus and his teachings. It is hard for me to tell you this part of the story. No mother should have to see her son falsely accused, cruelly beaten, abused, mocked at and finally condemned to die. Not only die but die the worst criminal’s death by being nailed to a wooden cross.

When Jesus died you can imagine how devastated I was. Physically I hurt because I had seen my son suffer unbearably and spiritually I hurt as my hopes for this promised Saviour evaporate in thin air. We were not prepared for this. We had no burial plot ready but a rich man who had been impressed by Jesus offered us his tomb. This tomb was carved into a rock and a big stone was rolled in front of the opening to seal it shut. Guards were also placed at his tomb.

I remember it was three days after we buried Jesus that some of us women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. We weren’t sure how we were going to roll that heavy stone away but we hoped the soldiers would have pity on us and help us. But when we got there the stone had already been rolled away and the soldiers guarding it were face down on the ground. There at the entrance was an angel. Where was Jesus body? Who had taken it away? Was this just a cruel dream or was this really true? One of my friends grabbed me before I fell, I was so shaken. The angel then spoke to us and said, “Do not be afraid. for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

It all made sense now. God made human beings to have a relationship with him on their own free will. But when they disobeyed him the relationship was broken. The punishment for this disobedience was spiritual death for ever. But God made a way for this punishment to be dealt with once and for all. Jesus HAD to die to pay for our wrongs against God. But He rose again to show us the all surpassing power of God and give us hope. Why? Because God, the King of Kings loves us. He wants a relationship with us. We are the ones who should die because of our broken relationship with God. But God is merciful. He changed our destiny.

Jesus took our place so we could be reunited with God, our source of life. Whoever believes in the Jesus has eternal life, but whoever rejects him will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.Jesus is no longer my son but my Savior. He can be your Savior too. Admit that you are disobedient to God. Believe that Jesus took the punishment of your disobedience for you on the cross and accept this payment as a free gift of love from God himself. When you do I welcome you to the forever family of God.