Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Knowing the Gems

Perhaps these past few months in Fiji have been to show me what it can be like. The question that you ask is what ‘it’ is. This is a very pertinent question, because the entire sentence, indeed my entire thought rests on ‘it’. Our lives will bring us across many people, some of whom will be good, and some who will be inexplicably awful. Perhaps they will do it on purpose, or maybe, just maybe they will do it in complete ignorance. I hope for their sake it will be the latter, maybe then they will have an excuse when they stand before our Father on that final day.

I woke up this morning with a purpose. I was going to dig deep into the word, and then employ a little old fashioned carpe diem. Seize the day and make a difference. Indeed, this was the day to change the world. Until in my surge of excitement, someone tied my shoelaces together, and I fell flat on my face.

After spending 30+ minutes doing my devotions and showering, that fateful moment came. “Stephen, we need to talk.” – breathe deep man; God will carry you through this. Ken once again wanted to have a conversation with me. I quickly got dressed, prayed my heart out, and then went out to meet him. The details of the conversation are really not important. The statements from it are:

You are unfit for ministry

You are an angry person

You have many undealt-with issues

Imagine with me for a moment, as I’m sure you have gotten so good at doing by reading through my blog, that some stranger walks up to you on the street and starts to tell you that you are good for nothing, and the calling that you have received is wrong. You’ll never make it. Now I want you to take that moment in time, and I want you to capture it. Hold it dearly. What emotions are you feeling? How would you react? Where do you think those words are coming from within this stranger, this man?

These are the things I was faced with today. I chose to walk away. I’ll be honest with you, there was pain inside of me, frustration, anger, and much hurt. I was flustered, lost, just like someone took a sword and cut my hamstrings. I was floundering around like a fish.

So I prayed. I prayed hard. And I gathered my things together and set out to carry on my day exactly like I planned, with some small modifications. I was no longer going straight to the Dream Centre to talk to them about helping, but to an internet cafe to consult with those close to me and the situation.

That afternoon I went to the drop-in centre, and talked to them about helping in whatever way I possibly could. I was unsure of how long I was going to spend in Fiji, but just let me help. An opportunity and a glimmer of hope in a very dark place.

The evening came, the time of reckoning. One final conversation, one final opportunity to test what God would have left for me here. I talked to Ken after the Bible study apart from everyone else. Told him the effect his words had on me, and accounted for him the conversations I had with those who are close to me, and to whom I’m accountable. Moving to another church is not an option, and if was not going to work with him, when would I be moving out of the BDC (the place where I am living)?

There it is. The heart of the matter. “Cool, great. When are you getting out?”

Perhaps God shows us what it is like to put our feet on bare coral, to tear them to shreds in the midst of a salty ocean, stinging us to the very core so that we will know what it is like to put our feet on white, perfect sand. Feel it conform to our soles and suck our feet into its warmth. Maybe God gives us these people to reveal to us how much we need to treasure those who support us and give us grace when we need it most.

I will close with this, a simple prayer.
Thank you for showing me these things.
Place them deep within my heart, and let me never forget the lessons that you have shared with me. Let me treasure with a deep kindred the people who love and support me, and those I will encounter in my future ministry who will be an encouragement to me.
Let me never forget these things. Let me never forget that when I looked back through the sand, into the last two months, and I saw only one set of footprints, it was in those moments that you carried me; and you carry me still. These lessons are like fire.
Thank you for them.

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