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‘Take a moment to remember who God is and who I am… there You go lifting my load again. No longer am I held by the yoke of this world. Come upon me yoke of Jesus. His yoke is easy, His burden is so light.’ (“Take a Moment” – Will Reagan & United Pursuit, listen here)
If I was to speak from a place of worldly logic and dwelling in the ‘old man’ (choosing to carry an old dead nature around with me, Romans 6:6), my reflections on this last month may be bleak: A crisis of health in my family may have been a reason to fall into distress and dismay.
Instead, because of the endless, relentless grace of God, this month Ben and I and our family find ourselves on the precipice of a new awareness of His goodness – an awakening to greater understanding of His faithfulness and peace, daily finding our whole selves in His good good arms – our emotions, our thoughts, our feelings.
Our friends at TEAR asked us to share some reflections for Lent from our travels. Head along to their website to have a read 🙂
This past month, Chelsea and I stayed with a community of women who have survived human trafficking. Often, I was the only male. I was challenged and confronted constantly by how men have inflicted such deep wounds on these women and was led to reflect upon how I may have diminished women in my attitudes or behavior too. I am no human trafficker. Still, in my life there are times when I could have spoken up more or said something else or just spoken less, done something more or done something different or let somebody else do something.
At the beginning of the month, we did a physical reflection on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Each phrase was posted somewhere in the room and we were asked to move to the part that stood out to us. Alone, I stood at “Love always protects.” I thought about the women I was around – such faith and hope, so strong and resilient, with so many dreams for themselves, their families and communities. They had just spent the morning speaking these dreams out. These women are incredible. They have capacity and skills and unlimited potential. These women were all mistreated by men. We live in a world where men often put themselves first, often misuse their strength and power to serve themselves instead of to protect and serve others. These women and so many others have lived through that reality.
When it came time to share, I was asked to share first. I said that it was ironic to be first, because I felt God telling me that here and beyond, I should choose to be last: To always protect, always put these women first, always demonstrate how valuable they are in God’s sight, to try in whatever way possible to honour the beautiful image of God in them. I told them that power is meaningless unless it is given away to empower others, and strength is not real unless it is used to strengthen others. I prayed and continue to pray that God makes me the kind of man who loves and protects and strengthens and serves others.
I am grateful for the past month and the specific challenge it brought me of what it looks like to be a Godly man who honours, encourages, empowers, makes space for, listens to, protects, and loves women well.
We would be so much the lesser without strong women in our world. I certainly would be! May we encourage, grow and celebrate women always, and speak against and reform those things that work against this.
I am so grateful for my sisters who graciously shared with and taught me. I am grateful always for the incredible women I know and those I don’t, those I was raised by, those I serve with, am lead by, have been privileged to lead, and am blessed to love. And I’m grateful for the women who have influenced them. Thank you for your fierce love, courage, commitment, faithfulness, and strength – I am grateful.
Chelsea and I are living in the home of giants.
They have come down from the mountains and taken up dwelling in the streets. They have faith fierce as lions. They have otherworldly strength. They have courage to enter places most would never willingly go.
They are five-foot-tall Filipino women. They wear the sweetest smiles on their faces. They love milo and chamomile tea. They are partial to sweets and enjoy an afternoon nap.
And the light of Jesus shines brightly out of them. It burns and never seems to waver and they take it with them to face police and prison, pimps and prostitutes, politicians and pub owners. And with it, coupled with a steely persistence and untiring faithfulness, they consistently win these people over!
‘I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert’ – Isaiah 43:19
This verse in Isaiah speaks to me about how God is in control and can do anything – He can cause water to spring up out of a barren desert. He has been teaching me this in so many ways during our time in Cambodia.
The team from InnerCHANGE Cambodia extended us extraordinary hospitality, inviting us into their homes and lives for 3 weeks and so we had the privilege to glimpse life as a missionary living with the urban poor. These are people who have been serving in Cambodia from a few months up to two decades. They taught me that following the call of Jesus to love people on the margins in a cross-cultural context is laying down your life for the pearl of great price: the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We witnessed what a sacrifice it is to learn a new language as an adult: re-learning basic words for daily survival. It’s a humbling process that seems to strip you back and require a deepening of your dependence on God. Continue reading ““I will make a way in the wilderness…””
On a bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, I looked out the window at water buffalo in the fields and God whispered something into my soul.
I had been reflecting on home: on the past year of change and growth; and on how God has so powerfully redeemed pain and trauma in my story. I had been reflecting on the past few days of hearing others’ stories about how God has rescued them too; on the ongoing mix of beauty and suffering in Cambodia and beyond. So many glimpses of creation and the Kingdom. Still many places crying out for restoration. And into all these ponderings,
God whispered, “If the grave can be overcome, what is impossible to me?”
In my short life, God’s inexplicable grace has transformed me in ways I could never have believed. Wounds I thought too deep and permanent no longer ache. Lies believed about my identity and worth revealed and removed. My life isn’t so self-focused, it’s caught up in something bigger than me and opened to Jesus and those around me. I’ve seen this happen to others and to communities. This is a reason to rejoice! The Kingdom of God is near and breaking through all over the world.
Before more periodic posts of our reflections and adventures, this is a helpful word for us as we journey: Nothing is impossible to God. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, cannot, will not overcome it!