Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stuck in Grace

This has not been an easy week. In fact, it’s been the kind of difficult that leaves you feeling wrung out and hung up to dry. It has to do with a lot of things, really.

Two staff members are leaving – one because she was only supposed to be here for 3 months and the other because she feels just as stifled as all of us here do and feels that God is moving her elsewhere.

The boys – well they are quite sure they know better than I do – or anybody else does. They are refusing to come home after school (many of them have school at night), refusing to help with chores around home, and refusing to talk to us. Where we live is quite dangerous and there have been children killed right here in this city and their body parts sold. We’ve told the boys this. They laugh at us and walk away.

I live in a very male dominated culture. My very independent American girl spirit doesn’t like that so much. But, I knew that when I came here. So, I just have to accept it. I have to try to do what God called me to do in spite of it. I have to pray about it. But, I’m also realizing without the support of a strong male, I’m never going to accomplish anything with the boys’ behavior. They just don’t take any of the female staff seriously – even staff that has been here for over a year. That's so disheartening. My "female-ness" gets in the way of my love for the boys. That makes me mad!

So, I feel stuck. I feel stuck in between wanting so much for the boys and wondering why I should stay at this particular place if so little can be accomplished. I feel stuck between my very stubborn nature which says, “Stick it out because you said you would” and my more logical nature that says, “Just go to Lichinga because there is a strong staff there and so much work to do with street children.” I feel stuck because I can’t really get away from the pressure of all that’s going on. I live with the boys. I’m in a foreign country and it’s really expensive to fly anywhere. I don’t speak enough of the language, so I can’t even go out for the day alone – and it wouldn’t even be safe anyway.

I don’t necessarily want easy. I just want not so hard. I want to know what to do – how to move or when to be still. I want the boys to see that I am trying to help shape godly character in their lives. I want male staff that is supportive of the decisions that we make for the boys. I want to be better at speaking the language already. I want to feel like there is a way out.

As I was praying the other day, I just sort of shouted at the Lord, “I feel stuck!” And in his very calm, loving nature I heard him whisper back, “Then be stuck in grace.”

Sigh…..that doesn’t really help a whole lot, honestly. I still feel stuck. I still don’t know what to do. But, of this I am sure, if there’s a place to be stuck – I’ll take grace. I am in a really hard, uncomfortable, unwanted place – a place where God has to show up.

I hate waiting for him. I’m not sure I’ll ever like it. But over the years I’ve learned that when he shows up everything changes. The hard months or years lose some of there sting. The painful memories dull just a bit. The longing is replaced by contentment. The wound is covered with salve.

I don’t know how long I will be in this place waiting for him to show up and do his thing. It may be just around the corner. It may be months – or years away. I can’t see far enough into the darkness to know what’s around the corner. But, I do know there are worse places to be than waiting for the King of the Universe to show up.

I can trust the maker of the mountain. I can trust the one who breathes life to the storm and calms it with just a word. I can be certain that he will show up and bind my wounds and dry my tears. I know that the darkest part of the night is just before dawn breaks through. I know that if I can just hold on I will be amazed at what he can do.

Here’s a poem from my daily devotional about waiting:

I the bitter waves of woe,
Beaten and tossed about
By the sullen winds that blow
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast,
To the things that cannot fail.

And fierce though the fiends may fight,
And long though the angels hide,
I know that truth and right
Have the universe on their side;
And that sometimes beyond the stars
Is a love better than fate.
When the night unlocks her bars
I will see Him – and I will wait.

-          Washington Gladden

So, here I am holding fast to the things that cannot fail and I am waiting. I’ll shout that from the top of my lungs till faith buoys up under my tired wings. I’ll shout it till I believe it and until he shows up. Because He won’t fail and because He always shows up. 

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