Saturday, 14 March 2015

unforced rhythms of grace

It 's good to remember, isn't it, that life isn't just about us or even the people around us. Well in some senses of course it is, because we are part of one very beautiful body and without anyone to share it with or to complement what each of us bring to the table or without someone else to hold up our arms when we feel weak, we would likely frazzle and whither away. But in the midst of it, it' s not all about me getting it right for anyone else, or anyone telling me I 've done a good job or even about adding a shiny gold star to my lapel - when it seems like it is for these things, I enter a relentless cycle that never seems to find completion. I 'm never good enough, I 'm forever wishing I did better and I 'm always longing for more and wishing I didn't let myself or others down. The uncompleted cycle leaves me in this twisted trap of guilt and pride and fear and insatiable want and it steals from the simplicity and beauty that was meant for me. It keeps me from remembering that it 's Jesus I serve.

Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I 'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won' t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11: 28-30

Read it again... slowly... it will take a few weights off your shoulders and likely loosen a few chains you might have let settle around your neck.

Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won 't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

So in amongst our busy lives and the things that try to take a sneaky piece of our peace, I am slowly learning that we have to actively, consciously, whole-heartedly reach out for another way. The way that doesn't treat you like a puppet and demand that your limbs and heart jump with every fleeting tug, but the way of grace. And even when you long for the stillness of that grace and even when you know what it looks like, it is hard to find. I can testify to that. These last few months have been far from a walk in the park. I feel like my job has forced me to embrace all sorts of newness and challenges that have been way too big for me - big enough to overwhelm me and big enough to make me feel awfully small. But in amongst it all, I have found that all my heart really needed to know, even amongst a million unknowns and a million challenges and a million times when it has felt like the waves are too big... all I really really wanted to know is that I am a child of God. No longer a slave to fear, but a child of God. Surrounded by the arms of my Father.

And so this journey continues. May be you were hoping for lots of patient stories from me - don' t worry, there are plenty of those. Our Hospital doesn't stop pouring love out and that kind of love can' t help but transform hearts, inside and out. It' s beautiful. The tumours keep disappearing, the cataracts vanishing, legs are made straight and the signs of deepest fear and rejection are cut out with a sharp knife, leaving healthy places for love to grow. These things never stop happening in this incredible place.

Sambany was a fine example of that this last month. For 19 years he walked around with a growing facial mass of over 7 Kilos and when told of the risk of death that surgery would bring, he commented that it didn't matter, his spirit was already dead. So you can imagine the joy it is to see a tumour free, liberated Sambany. New life before him. And there are hundreds of others like him, not as noticeable on the outside, but perhaps even more powerfully changed on the inside. It' s why I am still here. There 's nothing my heart wants more. The lure of money or a nice house or a fancy car or a bit more independence just doesn't cut it. I can ditch those things fairly easily but - even then - it' s something more sneaky that lures me in. It 's something that you can' t walk away from as easily as those other things. It follows me, it haunts me and it steals from me: the opinion of others. It' s without doubt the hardest thing to walk away from. And it 's without doubt the most powerful thing that keeps me from remembering in this place: It's Jesus I serve.

And that 's why working here is about so much more than the surgery we do, or the people we meet or the lives that get transformed. Yes those things are huge. But bigger than that, Jesus is guiding me by the hand, he is leading me towards the day when I won' t care about what others think but instead will boldly declare, ' I am a child of God' . I reckon I have walked a little closer these last few months, a chain or 2 has gone. I 've been desperately discovering what it is to learn the unforced rhythms of grace and to know that... it' s Jesus I serve. But I 'm not there yet.

We' re here in Madagascar until early June, when we'll hop over to South Africa for our usual Ship MOT and then we will make our way back to Madagascar for another 10 life breathing, spirit transforming, mountain moving, impossibility defying, love overflowing months. I will pop home for a few weeks in June and also try to learn some more French for a few weeks in Switzerland in June/July. Sharing God s love, His life and His truth is all I really care about and for that, relationship is key. One of the privileges of my job means that I get to build vision and communicate with key leaders in the countries we work in. The most effective way to build relationship is to learn the language and I hope to make some strides forward with that. I want to do my job well and I want to serve the nations we are called to with excellence and with deepest respect. My stumbling French has a long way to go, but I will take one step at a time...

Praying hugest love over you. May his abounding grace wash over you where you need it most and may your fears be drowned in perfect love.

Love always, KWW

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