Monthly Archives: October 2015

Are My Teeth Strong Enough?

Recently I was offered a volunteer editing job for an organization based out of Asia helping to start new churches and orphanages.

I’ve edited one newsletter so far, which took all of fifteen minutes to do. It was quite well-written, especially for someone who’s English isn’t his native language.

I was also asked how many I could edit a year, and I told them one every two weeks would be doable.

Thinking all requests would be easy like the last one.

I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

A few nights ago I received the following email (in part):

“I have a very rough story (it’s a bit difficult story). You will need to work on it to be developed into a story. What I have in the attachment is a basic story and very rough outline. Will you be able to develop it into a story? The audience will be our friends in the US. If you need to do any research on alcoholism, winter or the plight of slums, you can always do a Google search. If you need any specific information, do let me know.

But you do have full freedom to do this story. You will have to rework it completely. You have that freedom.

So how do I describe the sounds, the smells and the overall sense of a place I’ve never been? I found hundreds, if not thousands of photos of the slums, so describing the look will be easy.

To create an immersion of the place for readers will be difficult, and more than a little daunting. And not only the five senses, but the spiritual sense of the place, the despair, the anger, and sorrow. How can I capture that in such a way without being over-dramatic, but to someone who has been there can say, “She got it right.”

I’ve never sat down and consciously prayed before I wrote anything. I just wrote. In this case, however, I will have to pray quite hard before a single word is typed, because I don’t think I can write this on my own — and have it be believable, and honest.

I’m writing, after all, about real people in real circumstances. To over-dramatize or change their life story to fit my idea of what it should be is the height of disrespect, both to the people who live it, and the readers who want to know the truth of what happened, and is happening.

Worldly Foolish

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

. . .

Instead God chose the things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

– I Corinthians 1:18-21, 27-29

I count myself among the foolish.

For I, too, have accepted worldly wisdom, and worse, acted upon it, believing with every step into the abyss that I am wise. I am just as smart and capable as every philosopher, every scholar and every professional debater, after all. What need do I have of God’s wisdom? I know it all!

Even if I thought so only in my head, refusing at times to show off my “wisdom” to others around me. Perhaps then I knew deep down that my wisdom is false, and didn’t want to chance being shown my foolishness.

I try not to get sucked into the debates of the hour, because in the end, what does all that bloviating accomplish? Has one starving family received a hot meal? Has a shivering homeless person found a warm bed with my non-stop verbosity?

Has an orphan child found a loving home?

Last weekend I watched the documentary called “The Drop Box” about a pastor in South Korea. He created a box for women to anonymously drop off their newborn children who they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take care of. He did so partly because he and others found so many abandoned babies who ultimately died from exposure.

In one of the last scenes, the interviewer asked why Pastor Lee adopted so many of the children he saved (15 when the movie was filmed), many of whom are disabled in some way. He said simply, “Because God adopted me.”

What started the entire ministry of saving children was due to the severe disability of his own son who can’t walk, talk or eat on his own. He can’t even sit up. He can blink and smile, and that’s about it.

Through his son Pastor Lee learned the dignity of all life, and as such wanted to do something to preserve the dignity of “unwanted” babies so they wouldn’t die cold and alone.

A beautiful example of God chosing something (the disabled and unwanted) “despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.”

This movie is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I recommend watching it, but do keep a box of tissues on hand. You will need them as much as I did.

I’m tired of using worldly wisdom to try to debate people to my side on a worldly subject. How does that bring people closer to God? It’s nothing more than immersing myself in the noise and details while losing sight of eternity.

It’s time to quit pretending to be worldly wise, and instead be worldly foolish.

Empty

Why is it so difficult to ask for prayer? Why is it so difficult to pray at all, especially if it’s for ourselves?

Why do I hesitate to — not necessarily to pray — but to publicly tell people I’m praying for them?

As to the last question, for me anyway, it seems like nothing more than following the crowd. When I say I am or will pray for someone along with a hundred others, am I really praying, or am I just saying that so the recipient (hopefully) and me feels better?

And does it make any difference?

I know many a prayer warrior. Their prayers matter. I’ve seen the results. When I add my own, it seems the recipient doesn’t get the results they’re looking for. Like I’m a jinx and not adding my voice is best for all involved.

In my head I know that’s not true. My heart takes more convincing.

Nor is it selfish to pray for ourselves and to ask for others to do the same. I once said in another blog entry years ago (paraphrased since I’m too lazy to find the exact quote): “As if there’s a warehouse in Heaven that holds a set amount of prayers. To use them unwisely means there won’t be enough left for those who truly need them.”

Sounds ridiculous when I put it that way, doesn’t it?

In fact, prayer perpetuates itself. As with every other act, the more we pray, the better we are at doing it. Anyone can become a prayer warrior; as long as we make a habit of it, and do so sincerely.

Prayer isn’t always about getting what we want, unless what we’re ultimately looking for is a closer relationship to God. It’s how we talk to him, and it’s how he hears us. It’s also how God renews us. Jesus showed this countless times. Whenever he felt exhausted from preaching and healing, he stole away to pray by himself. If he didn’t he would have burned himself out, for one, and he wouldn’t have been able to hear his father’s voice as clearly. His mind would have been too full of the noise of this world; it’s worries and temptations.

God also never said to only pray for certain things. It’s okay to ask for selfish and even silly reasons. Aren’t we silly when developing relationships with other people ? He said, in fact, to pray unceasingly, and to ask for anything. He can (and does) say no. That’s his prerogative, just as a parent can (and does) say no when a child asks to eat chocolate ice cream for supper.

Just pray, even if it’s without words, because as scripture says, the Holy Spirit will gives voice to the groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).