Monday, March 31, 2008

Who Says Women Talk All The Time

Women are supposed to talk all the time, right? Well, this past Friday night I went on a retreat with about twenty or so other women. And, yes, Friday night there was a lot of talking and catching up with each other as well as meeting new sisters.
However, on Saturday morning we were instructed to wake up in silence. I loved it. For the first time in I don't know how many months, I was able to shower and get ready for my day in quiet. It was so peaceful and to make it all the better we woke up to the sound of rain. I love the sound of rain early in the morning.
After breakfast, we spent the next three hours in silence. However, for all of us it wasn't total silence. Even though we weren't speaking to each other, each of us heard a word from One who is a far greater friend, lover, father than any of us could ever dream of.
Then after our "silent" time, we came together and shared with each other what we had heard from the Lord and as ladies tend to do there were some tears as well as some laughs.
I was so grateful for this time. It was a time that I could spend alone with my God without all the distractions of life and even without the distraction of my talking to God. I didn't even have to do anything.I got to just sit in His presence and listen to Him.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Light and Darkness

I John 1 5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

I was reading this today after several frustrating conversations about how much you should attend church. My argument was that even if I attend church every day of the week, if I'm not choosing to live right, I wouldn't be better off. I'm sure there are many people who are regular church attenders but also are habitual sinners.

So, when I read this, it got me to thinking about really what is light and what is darkness. I came to the conclusion that light is what is pure, righteous, holy and truthful and that darkness is the complete opposite. Light is revealing. Darkness hides things. God is in the light but the darkness is where He cannot be found since the two cannot exist at the same time.

This made me think about my own life. Do I choose to habitually walk in darkness or do I try to habitually walk in light? My prayer is that I will consciously make a daily choice to walk in light and that my life will be a testimony to the light of God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fellowship in Community

I John 1:3

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is wiht the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

John's authority came because he actually walked with Jesus. He saw Jesus with his eyes; he heard Jesus speak with his ears and could actually touch Jesus and feel a real, live person. John said that he wrote the letter of I John so that we could also have fellowship with "us." How do you have fellowship with someone who is no longer physically living here on earth?

The word fellowship in the Greek is koinonia, which means to have something in common. We are able to experience this fellowship with Jesus because of what we have in common with Jesus- the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit and this Spirit is also Christ's Spirit. We can still fellowship with Jesus because the Holy Spirit is living in us. We can fellowship with the Father and the Son in the same manner that we fellowship with other believers.

Fellowship usually happens in community. What is community? In a book I'm reading right now (The NIV Application Commentary of I John), Christian community is defined as "partnership in experience; it is the common living of people who have a shared experience of Jesus Christ." I'm still struggling to decide what my definition of community is. I've heard it's the neighborhood you live in which to me is just a geographical location and says nothing about interaction. Many of us don't even know the names of our neighbors.

I think I really like the definition given in the commentary. I have several friends that are experimenting with living in community. They have several people living in a shared house, not just to share expenses, but to also share meals, prayer and life experiences in general. I think that goes back to the definition given in the book. I think without being willing to partner together to make the experience work there would be less of a willingness to communicate through difficult times. But, most of all their experiment in living in community is bound together in their shared experience of Jesus Christ.

Their fellowship is triangular. Person 1 fellowships with Christ. Person 2 fellowships with Christ and they fellowship with each other.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Life's Turns

We never really know what to expect out of life. There's so many hills, valleys and unexpected turns. We can set out to do something expecting one outcome only to have the outcome be something entirely different. Sometimes we can look back over life and wonder how we ever got to where we are.
Growing up, I wanted to be many things: a pilot, doctor, teacher, coach, and the list goes on. Never did I say that I wanted to be a missionary and that seems to be a not so very likely occupation for me. Many people say they can't see me doing what I do. I presume this is because I am so quiet.
I also never pictured this as my future occupation. But, it seems God had other plans and it also seems that His hands were guiding me toward this throughout my life. I went to a private, Catholic school for a while during my elementary years. I barely remember any of it. But, one memory I do have is of a man that for a while was a deacon (at least that's what I think his title was) for a while. He would come into our class and tell us Bible stories and push us on the swings on the playground at recess. At some point, he decided to continue on and become a priest. I remember going to his ordination service and feeling excited for him but also a little sad.
His becoming a priest meant that he was now Father Fitzhugh and he would be taking a new assignment which meant that he would be leaving. His new assignment was somewhere in Mexico. I don't think I even knew where Mexico was but I remember knowing that I was going to miss him. He came back for a visit about a year later. I remember being in such awe of him. He could now speak a new language and had so many interesting stories to tell. I don't remember seeing Father Fitzhugh anymore after that and life went on.
I didn't even think about this until a few weeks ago when I was thinking about how I ended up on the life course that I did. I think he was the beginning of a little seed planted in my mind, of my interest in other cultures and learning foreign languages. In junior high and high school I didn't have much interest in religion or even in God. However, I did read books about the Peace Corps and the experiences of others as they volunteered in distant lands.
I started college and had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I've changed my major a gazillion times and imagined an array of careers but somehow none of them really seemed to fit. While on campus I worked and became friends with people from all over the world: Pakistan, Colombia, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Bosnia and the list goes on.
At some point I realized I was going to have to make a final decision about a major and realized I still had no idea. I decided to take a semester off and travel. I picked a random destination and left for 3 months on a trip that would change the course of my life. I went to Uganda to visit and do some volunteering and fell in love with the country. I decided I definitely wanted to return. I came back home, got more involved in church and felt God leading me to take my next trip back to Uganda as a mission trip. I returned the next year for another 3 months on a short term mission trip and worked with orphans and street children.
Since then my whole goal in life has changed. When I finally surrendered my will to God and gave my life over to Him to be used by Him, everything became so clear. I finally knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to serve Him. This has meant the last few years being a missionary in Uganda. I don't know that I will always be a missionary in Uganda. God may choose something else for me later. But, I do know that for now He is the one that is in charge of the twists, turns, hills and valleys of my life. I pray that as I walk these footsteps through life that I will be constantly following His footsteps.