Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Preparing the Bride

It's an interesting season.  I am a smitten bride-to-be on the mission field, away from my fiance. Trying my best with the Lord's help to stay focused on the ministry at hand, while simultaneously unable to avoid the pull of my heartstrings towards this union and new life that awaits. Here fully and enjoying it, but with an ever present longing for the beauty of what is to come. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I've embraced it, for I'm seeing indeed this is how God designed it. And that it in fact mirrors the greater state we are all in, waiting for the Great Marriage to come. The parallels are striking me with much more clarity as I walk through this season myself.

I find right now it's a season of preparing the bride.

This bride- for after 2 ½ months of living in a house with 11 other people, even though I really love them, I'm seeing my selfishness much more clearly. I see how often I want to do my own thing, to consider my own desires first rather than someone else's. I have felt the impatience and agitation rising when I get interrupted from my plan or pulled in many directions being the only Creole speaker in the house. It's ugly sometimes in my heart, but I sure am thankful for the opportunity for the junk to rise to the top and be sanctified out of me. Selfishness has no place in marriage. God is preparing this bride. I'm not ready yet.

And the bride- for the Bible says the Church, God's people, is His bride, and that Jesus is our Bridegroom coming back for us. We're all waiting for a Wedding. And right now it's the time to get ready.

I see He sent us here to help do this in Jeremie, to beautify and prepare His bride. Because these children don't know how precious they are to Him. They're not ready yet. So often they are neglected, treated as throw-aways, hungry and left to their own devices, with little or no love or hope or truth poured into them. So week after week we go to them, we embrace them, we jump and sing with them, we crowd in close and pull them on our laps for a Bible story, we ask them questions, we pray for them. We teach them, through words and actions, that they are loved, that they have value and purpose, that they are treasured by Jesus. He's getting them ready.

1 Samuel 2:8~  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.

Back home, in a different land with a wildly different set of circumstances, it seems to me Jesus is preparing His bride in another way. He's trying to teach her that to find your life, you must lose it, that it's not in living for ourselves, but for the Kingdom, that will prepare us for the Day He comes back for us. We're not ready yet.

It's a season of preparation, for all of us.  A vital season.  But in the preparation, the yearning still remains, for one Day the sin and the sorrow and the separation and the waiting will all be over, and we will see Him face to face.  A beautiful bride united with her Bridegroom in perfect love forever.  What a Day that will be!

Revelation 19:7 

 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I walk nearly everywhere I go.  I find it's just better on foot- you can observe and interact so much more with people.  Often kids run up and hold my hand and walk with me for a bit.  I see many people as I make my way around town.  Most interactions are brief- a smile, a hello, a wave.  Some are longer- a chat, a prayer, encouragement.  And then, every so often, during one of these interactions and meetings, God will seem to say about someone- I want you to love this one.  Not just in this moment, but continually.  Open the floodgates to them. 

Linda was one of those.  I was on my way into the crowded open air market one day, and a lady called me over to where she was sitting in front of her house.  It's one of the poorest areas of town.  I went over- she wanted to show me her daughter.  Linda.  Four years old, yet tiny as can be.  The mom explained a fever as a child prevented Linda from walking or maturing properly.  She seemed mentally handicapped perhaps as well.  I asked if I could pray for her and she handed Linda's tiny little body to me.  I prayed, and God really touched my heart for her and her mother.  I thought about Linda long after I left and I knew God wanted me to begin to minister to this family.

I went back another day.  I plopped down on the porch alongside the other children and scooped up Linda.  Her smile, even with the rotted teeth, did a number on my heart.  I sang to her.  The other kids joined in.  Linda stared right into my eyes and beamed the whole time.  God adores her.  I talked with her mother.  Leann.  11 kids.  Very poor.  A face set hard for the difficulty she bears daily.  I see she loves her kids and is a good mom, just trying to do her best and make it in this crazy world here.  We prayed.

I went back again today with 4 little chairs as a gift to encourage Leann because they all just sit on the hard dirty cement porch all day long.  God sees them.  Children gathered around.  We sang again.  Sweet little Linda smiled and smiled and clapped her hands.  Two half-naked little girls held hands and danced and hugged.  Leann's hardened face softened.  She clapped and sang along too.  I will start bringing my children's Bible and doing stories.  And we will see what the good Lord has in store for this family and their little neighbors, the apples of His eye.

Listen, for God may say to you today too- love this one. And just leave the rest up to Him.

Ephesians 5:2~ And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.