I was walking across a green field on a cliff high, above the southern Pacific ocean when I saw the girl. From a distance, she looked like any other girl; long dark hair and skin the color of wheat. But as she drew closer, I noticed the filth of her ill-fitting clothes, the broken shoes she wore on her feet, and her beautiful, beautiful brown eyes.
The Afghans have an interesting notion of forgiveness. If a man kills another man, he cannot be forgiven by God unless the family of the man forgives him. That puts a lot of power into human hands. Our hands.
Maybe today you’re the one clinging to the edge of the boat, fighting to hold on. Every muscle in your body is tense. Wind, rain, and crashing water beats against your heart. It’s dark, too dark to see. And you’re nauseous, dizzy, spitting water and bile.
Or maybe you’re the one working hard, heaving bucket-fulls of water. Furious in your efforts. Alone. You double down. Work harder. You’ll survive this storm. One way or another. It all depends on you.
We aren’t born knowing who we are. On day 1, we have no idea what gifts God has woven into our tiny beings. As we grow, we discover ourselves.
Parents knows this. “My firstborn is a natural leader. She rearranges the world to fit whatever game she’s playing. My second delights in exploration, discovering worms and caterpillars in the yard. My third is happiest on the soccer field in the company of his friends.”
When I first came to Christ, I thought that being a Christian would mean protection from the calamities of life. I was chosen, washed, sealed, and hidden in the pavilion of God most high. No weapon formed against me would ever strike me down.
Perhaps you thought the same.
Or, perhaps you knew that the world is full of unpredictable losses, astonishing storms, and devastating diseases. Perhaps you were prepared, sure that in the face of fear, you and your faith would overcome.
Lord, if only you were here, the storm would not have destroyed my home, the accident wouldn’t have taken my son, the disease would not have entered my body. If only, Lord, my brother would not have died.
Martha’s statement disturbs our faith. Quickly, we jump to the promise. Blow through the sadness as quickly as possible. Reach the resurrection part. “Your brother will rise again.” Finally, we breathe our sigh of deep relief. Ah, the world spins on its axis again and all is well.