spiritual

The impossible choice

The headlines alone are enough to make you weep.

Isis in Libya: Families forced to marry girls as young as 12 to fighters for protection as clinics see growing number of miscarriages and STDs

ISIS Sex Slave Price: 1- to 9-Y-O Christian, Yazidi Girls Sold for $172

UN official on life under ISIS: ‘Girls are being stripped naked, examined in slave bazaars’ (and don’t forget the “young woman who was married over 20 times, forced to undergo surgery to restore her virginity at the end of each coerced union”)

ISIS impregnates 9-year-old girl

ISIS seizes key Iraqi city: What happens now? Group uses bulldozers, suicide bombers to take city

Isis seizes Palmyra – live updates: Militants behead men as ancient city falls to terror group

When I read Ann Voskamp’s compelling blog post about her recent trip to Iraq, I was stricken to the heart by her words and photographs. They turned away my eyes from my self-centeredness and forced me to look into the eyes of my suffering sisters and brothers.

I am struggling to find words of my own, but Ann puts it so well. Her flexible use of grammar, instead of annoying me, seems to embody the floundering, grasping-at-straws efforts to put into type the horrific realities of so many people. REAL people, who live and breathe and hope and hurt.

ISIS

I am so thankful for Ann’s responsible blogging, which doesn’t just break your heart and leave you in paralyzed mourning, but presents a story of hope, reminding us that WE CAN fight against the darkness.

We aren’t where we are, to just peripherally care about the people on the margins as some superfluous gesture or token nicety. The exact reason why you are where you are — is to risk everything for those being oppressed out there.

You are where you are — to help others where they are. The reason your hands are where they are in this world — is to give other people in this world a hand.

Because God forbid, you don’t get a roof over your head, food on your table and the safety of no bullets shattering your windows because you deserve more — you only get all that so that you get to serve more.

God forbid, you don’t get to live a comfortable life because you’re better — you only get your life so you get to make someone else’s life better with a bit of comfort.

God forbidyou don’t want to climb a ladder up to the American dream, when you could throw a lifeline down to people living your worst nightmare.This is your possible choice.

I trust Ann’s endorsement and vetting of the Preemptive Love Coalition. They are dedicated to providing funds where needed most, which is currently the people of Ramadi (reference Lynne Hybel’s blog post). There is also a second campaign to provide funds for helping these women to start their own businesses. And I love their commitment to finding solutions “for Iraqis, led by Iraqis.”

Please don’t just hear it from me. Read Ann’s posts for yourself.

Results-oriented

I found this incredibly encouraging this morning:

[Mother Teresa says:] “we are not called to be successful but faithful.” This distinction is helpful for me as I barricade myself against the daily dread of setback. You need protection from the ebb and flow of three steps forward, five steps backward. You trip over disappointment and recalcitrance every day, and all becomes a muddle. God intends it to be, I think. For once you choose to hang out with folks who carry more burdens then they can bear, all bets seem to be off. Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever’s sitting in front of you. Embracing a strategy and an approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do you on any given day. If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business. I find it hard enough to just be faithful.

… Jesus was always too busy being faithful to worry about success. I’m not opposed to success; I just think we should accept it only if it is a byproduct of our fidelity. If our primary concern is results, we will choose to work only with those who give us good ones.

Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

Results

 

Psalm 139

Psalm 139

* Ashamed, bad, sad, depressed, crazy, upset, annoyed, etc…

I find the words of Psalm 139 (below) very comforting. The concept of being completely known and completely loved is one of the greatest gifts of my world view and faith. The poetic concept of God deliberately forming me and labeling me as “fearfully and wonderfully made” directly combats the negative messages I get from society and myself about my body. The timeless message of relentless, never-failing love that pursues me is the stuff of dreams that fill the pages of fiction, and is repeated in the words of Jesus through the stories of the lost sheep and the prodigal son. But TBH (“to be honest”): Sometimes it reads a little stalker-ish, too.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139