Monday, February 23, 2009

Shall We Dance?

Jerry often jokes with our Zambian friends that he’s not as talented at dancing as they are. However, twice recently I have witnessed his unprecedented and inspired . . . choreography. The first incident occurred when, upon awakening, our eyes focused immediately on a large, fat lizard clinging precariously to the inside of our mosquito net, mere inches over our heads. We were up in a flash. And in the process of capturing that creature, Jerry made some most amusing noises and moves – the best entertainment I’d had for some time. The second incident took place in church last week. Wondering if the Spirit was descending on my husband in a previously unexperienced manner, I observed with interest as his body made strange contortions and an odd look came upon his face, as he sat beside me on the front row. Only after church did I learn the real source of his inspiration: a cockroach inside his suit jacket!

The truth is, we’re both longing to dance again. To lay down the weight of sorrow that clings so tenaciously, and sometimes seems just too much to bear. The other day we went for a walk in the sunshine, only to find ourselves caught in a rain that came up in an instant and left us soaked. So too our hearts can go from hope to despair, from peace to pain, with no warning at all.

We find ourselves daily engaging the Enemy in ways we have never before experienced. The issue? Trusting in the goodness and Sovereignty of God, trusting His love for us, submitting ourselves to His work of grace in our lives. So easy to say, so easy to preach about . . . so hard to own, in the midst of a storm.

Though we teach classes here, we’re actually quite engaged in learning ourselves. About praising Almighty God in brokenness. About listening intently for His voice. About being authentic before God, and also, with people.

Today as I sat in a classroom of Zambian pastors and leaders, I thought, “how amazing of God, to allow us to be under the care and tutelage of such gracious people in a time like this.” People who have suffered deeply, whose faith sustains them, and who amaze us with their capacity for joy. After class I sat and chatted with a friend, Pastor Beatrice. This humble lady is a church-planter, director of a Bible School, widow, mother, grandmother, and woman of grace. Though her own children are grown, she still cares for several orphaned children in her home, on a meager ministry income. She shared some of her story with me – losing several children, and then unexpectedly losing her husband. In a land where there is very little employment opportunity, let alone “Social Security,” widows struggle greatly to survive. Her words of encouragement were simple and gentle. “ You just have to trust God. There is a reason for everything He allows. Just thank Him, and praise Him, in everything.”

There was not an ounce of triteness in her words. With a glow on her face, and nothing but love in her eyes, she exalted the Lord as she spoke of His sustaining power and faithfulness to her. I sat there and drank in the humble joy, the precious peace, and love that flowed out of her “like rivers of living water.” It occurred to me that perhaps never before had I seen the fruit of the Spirit so beautifully on display, as I did in that moment. It was almost like having a conversation with Jesus. The sparkle in her eyes rekindled something inside of me, and I felt my heart saying, “Yes! Yes to what you say, yes to who you are, yes to Christ in you!”

Ah, the tenderness, the strength, the God-confidence of those who have suffered – and overcome. People like Beatrice. People like . . . Jesus. Jesus, who suffered for us, that He might turn our mourning into dancing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Paula,

I took a break this morning, from the monotony and tediousness of preparing a detailed construction estimate for a new client. I decided to clean my email in-box of its 1,902 emails.....ummm....I don't clean it often. But there was a blog notice from you. So I read, again, the "Shall We Dance" post.....and, like the first time....it touched my heart in a very warm way. It also reminded me of the promise that "His mercies are new EVERY morning." and "Count it all joy...."

Love you!!!!!

Larry Ellsaesser