Monday, August 15, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (16) Eclipsed Affliction

Romans 8:18

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

...when all of a sudden, I am unaware
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

And I realize just how beautiful you are
and how great your affections are for me.

I don't have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way that he loves us.

24 Hours after Guatemala. Home only a day and all I can think about is how I am desperate to return. The song above (hopefully you are allowing it to play as you read) was the single cut on the soundtrack of our trip. It seemed to follow me around. I heard it on the radio. I heard it in church. I heard it on the side of a mountain. I heard it on a volcano. I heard it sang in English. I heard it sang in Spanish. And I learned something about myself--

Sometimes it takes a lot for something to sink through my skull to reach my heart.

About halfway through the trip, I received the message that God began whispering to me, and then began beating me blind across the face with: a simple message... see what I want you to see. 

I think about Peter on the waves... yeah, you know the story. An impossible moment collapsed when he lost the focus of his gaze. 

I don't have time to maintain these regrets. My afflictions, my stupidity, my weakeness-- it is all eclipsed by his glory. God makes beautiful things (thank you Estela). The God of the universe created you. He created me. He sent his son to take our sin and set us free.

To.  Set.  Us.  Free.

This is why, I don't have time to maintain regret. It isn't about what I have done, this salvation is about what He has done. If I keep my eyes on that... then my impossible moment will yield to his limitless promise.

Not my circumstance, but his relationship to me. That is what is the dust and clay of our reality. His image... etched onto my soul.

I have never been face to face with so much truth in such a compact time. Another song pursued me relentlessly during the week. It echoes the words of Psalm 23, scripture I comited to heart in the 4th grade.

I stood in a church in Guatemala City with tears flowing down my face as I listened to this song in Spanish. It took me 2:30 to realize I was filming it sideways... my focus was not on the camera.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back
I know you are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

More lyrics:

I have seen lives that are lived by people who fear no evil. I have walked beside men who allow God's glory to eclipse afflictions. Both afflictions of past mistakes, and circumstance that had been cruel due to no fault of their own. I have seen them look firmly into the eyes of The God, while the store rages around them. They know full well that the storm has the power to consume them and all they have.

And yet... "I will fear no evil, for my God is with me...whom then shall I fear?" said over 3000 years ago:

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for thou art with me. 
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou makest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil.
My cup overflows.

Do we live with true belief? I want to focus on his grace, his glory, his fierce love for me. I want my eyes to lock onto his gaze. How could there be time to maintain regret or fear when his love compels me to focus my life on Him?

I spoke with a friend today about the duality, or the disparity of our situation. We are aware of suffering, and we are moved by it. We are afflicted and we must not be destroyed by it. We are saddened and yet we cannot be stalled by it. We are threatened, and yet we must keep in mind that nothing can separate us from the God who is with us.

We must remember who we are:

We are Adam in the garden.
We are Moses in the wilderness.
We are David pouring our souls out to God.
We are Peter denying Christ.
We are Thomas, touching Christ for ourselves.
We are the hands and feet of his provision.
And, we are also the least of these...

And no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in... we are His.

As long as we keep our gaze on Him... whom then shall we fear? 

"Our sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Everything is eclipsed by Him.

And so...I find myself here, some 36 hours since my boot left a mark in the soil. And I am know I have to live my life to reflect these truths in my present surroundings.

In October, we have another team going to build another two houses. I did not plan on going. But, the team is in need and I can help. I have an extra week of vacation that I did not schedule, and I believe that I need to be on this trip.

I am casting my fear and my afflictions on the one who loves me. I am trusting that He will provide the means for me to get there. All that separates me is a plane ticket. I have committed to be there. 

I also long to be involved deeper with this ministry, and can see my family in a long-term role there. Again, I don't have all the answers. I can't see how it all works out.

My eyes are on his gaze. If his will is for me to go, then he will make a way.

Let the storm come. Whom shall I fear?

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