Friday, September 30, 2011

Isaiah 49


Isaiah 49:15-16

“Can a woman forget the child at her breast,
and have not compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
but I will not forget you.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me."

In the past, I have read Isaiah 49:15 as a verse whose purpose is to remind us that as much as we love someone, we can never find a comparison or put words to the depths of His love for us. He asks if a woman can forget the child who she has carried for nine months, delivered, and is now giving life to in the most intimate way I can imagine a connection between mother and child. The answer has seemed an obvious "of course not"... I have even thought before "gosh, way to take it to the extreme, God." Yes, I am well-acquainted with the "orphan crisis" (not sure i like calling "it"/THEM this), but recently He has introduced me to a little life that has revealed a deeper understanding of His great love.

When I first got to hold baby Linet in my arms, she tugged on my shirt--a way of asking whether or not I had any milk to give her. :) In Kenya, it's typical for a baby to breast feed for at least two years. It makes sense--our bodies were made for such. Throw in poverty and it seems crazy to not use this God-given gift to feed children until they can find nourishment in other foods. We all laughed (even her!) about her sweet request that I, unfortunately, could not provide and went on with the day.

The gravity of these verses did not strike me until several nights later, as she lay with an arm sprawled across me and legs furiously "running" as she slept. WHY was I the one laying next to this precious girl--me, someone who could not even promise be in the same position a week later? Who am I to be in this moment-this one I never want to leave? Why is Linet passed from child to child to caregiver to caregiver with (thankfully) so many to love her, but no one to call her their own? The "even those may forget" came to my mind and for the first time, it became real. Linet's mom (to the knowledge of those who have met her) is not dying, she is not gravely ill, she is not dead, she is not too poor to raise a child, she does not have some extenuating circumstances that made giving up Linet "make sense" or appear to be the "only option".... she simply did not want her.

Only by His grace He continues to remind me that it is FAR from my place to cast judgment on this mother, as much as I love her child. I ask why He knit Linet in HER womb... why not someone else's? Why not even mine? I know that He did it so meticulously and I wonder why He even took the time and precision and love to form this creature the way He did.

To be honest, at first I felt hindered from singing love over Linet like I do with Mercy, Pinky, and Obama. I'd be lying to tell her that she was loved and cherished and prayed for and wept over and sung to and held close before her mom left this earth after a hard, faithful fight to stay longer to raise her children. There is no pretty story to offer this little heart when she begins to wonder. This grieved me... how I so wanted to believe that someone else longed to be in my position--listening to her breathe as she sleeps, wiping sweat from her forehead (which I could only locate in the darkness by tracing the sweet breaths), and eyes filling with tears as she takes her first steps. It is so much easier when I can believe that her mom aches to be there with her. The inverse of this feels like a knife in my heart, on her behalf. A blow taken for her until she can receive it herself, fully. Oh but GOD. God... He does not forget her!!!! He is so clear that His love for her is STRONG. "Even these may forget".... He tells us it will happen. And then He relaxes my angry, questioning eyes by following with the most beautiful Love I will forever try to swallow... "but I will not forget you." I imagine Him showing her and letting her run her fingers over his rough hand as He says "See..."

Linet's sweet name has a place on His scarred hands... He sees her, He knows her, He rejoices over her, He remembers her. This is enough. It doesn't seem like it to me so many times, but it is. This is not the second best. This is the best. This is not seeing the glass half full or positive thinking or optimism or making good out of bad; this is GOODNESS. Pure and holy and undefiled truth that she is His, not forgotten. This is reason to sing...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

fixed.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when my knees were far too well acquainted with the cold, concrete floor beside Carol’s bed as her body fought chicken pox, pneumonia, and the virus that led her to this weakened state.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when I felt helpless to do anything but watch Lucy squirm and writhe and groan in pain as cancer tore apart her earthly frame.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when Phoebe and I squeezed three precious ones, deeply deeply loved by their ailing mother, into a car to drive to their new home; a home of education, clothes, clean water, three meals a day, JOY, and love, but one apart from the mother and father who gave them life.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when positive HIV test results were read and cancer diagnoses were confirmed and stories of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and rape were retold and news of friends dying preventable deaths was digested.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when sharing a meal and conversation with street boys too high to lift their water glasses with steady hands; conversations that jumped from how much money they’d come upon that day to their favorite color to the fact that they had no recollection of their mother’s face.

I wish I had written about His faithfulness when I wrestled and fought and diverted my gaze and plugged my ears and called His bluff because I loved these people more than I loved Him and if He was the one allowing all of this pain, I would choose them over Him. I would fight for them if He wouldn’t.

His faithfulness wells in my heart and is fresh on my lips when Carol skips and Lucy sings and Pinky giggles and morphine is acquired and babies are discharged and surgeries are successful and bellies are full…

I strain my eyes to see His faithfulness in the moments He seems far and the ones I love are hurting the most… I SO often miss it, but the promise remains that it is there. Oh, it is there! I raise my voice and demand that He listen to my prayers, even though this is one of the first truths He etched into my heart, knowing how pivotal it would be for me—stubborn, doubting Annie Coppedge, to know that my words and heart are not sailing off into the wind like a balloon let loose in the sky.

Sights of His faithfulness through the difficult greet me as soon as the fog lifts but these pleasantly overwhelming glimpses always seem to knock me onto my knees. Repentance. Forgive me for my stubborn, tight lips that refused to utter praise when my eyes did not see You worthy of it. Forgive me for my shallow mind that chooses acceptance of how You handle Your people over trust that You are GOD, You love your people and You never stop working for our good.

I wish I had written to you about His faithfulness in all of the things that seemed so far from pretty blog posts. I wish I had thanked Him all the more during the times Faithful and God seemed antonymous. I wish I had sung even louder when the words were more difficult to find.


Psalm 86

A prayer of David.
1 Hear me, LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.


I am headed back to Kenya after 8 months of fog. I look back through it and see that my now loud shouts of His faithfulness largely contrast my utterances in the months preceding. I dance around with my plane ticket in hand and cannot say enough good things about this God who loves me (as evidence by this newly acquired ticket) and then I catch a view of myself just last month, wallowing in self-pity and not so convinced that He is as good as I once believed Him to be.

I’m not sure what this is—why I needed to write this, but I did. I am repenting and I am sharing my sin and asking your forgiveness for only giving you pretty pictures, yes, but I want more than that. I want to get better at this. I want to fall on my face quicker and notice my sin sooner and unclench my fists earlier and I think He is teaching me that none of that will happen unless I keep my eyes fixed on Him. FIXED. HE is where my eyes need to be stayed, nowhere else--not on orphans or widows or the poor or the oppressed... on Jesus.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ~ Hebrews 12:2