Yesterday, my body woke too early for one of those 4:30 a.m. thinking times. It was probably because there were a couple of days where my heart had to process some circumstances that were very “close to home.” I am learning that these events often give me a jolt of reality that leaves me sorrowful and lonely. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen these two posts for prayer requests. Thank you to those of you who take those seriously! You can STILL consider them critical prayer needs. READ THROUGH TO THE END FOR THE MESSAGE WE ALL NEED TO REMEMBER.
JANE: When we lived in the village, relationship building was our job. We were learning culture and language and, in order to do that, we had to go OUT into the village, stumble through speaking in broken Sesotho, and get to know them and their ways of life. HERE, at Rift Valley Academy, I have a FULL-TIME job teaching, so relationship building with the Kenyan people in our community has to be very strategic. I see this as a privilege and have seen God use my “painful advantage” of being a widow to thrust my relationships forward. You see, people here are well acquainted with loss and my loss builds an instant bridge of commonality between us.
Jane is one of my friends whom I have gotten to know through buying vegetables at the local “veggie duka (shop).” Jane, herself a widow, has one table here (see below), which means she splits any business with the other eight or nine women who also have “stalls.” Needless to say, she barely makes a living. This last week, Jane was in a serious accident when the truck she was riding in the back of collided with a car. According to Jane, the car “flew up into the air and looked like an airplane.” She is lucky to be alive and to have medical care at the mission hospital here in Kijabe. I went to see Jane there on Friday with my worker (and friend), Anne. She is Jane’s cousin. Jane was discouraged and in a lot of pain. Her main worry is that she won’t be able to pay. You see, here, you can’t be released until you pay the bill in full. My heart was so heavy for Jane as I walked home. The needs that surround us here are overwhelming and it is impossible to help everyone. Besides, just putting money in people’s hands is a very temporary fix to deeper issues in this country. I promised Jane that God would provide for her needs and I truly believe He will. How, I’m not quite sure of yet.
The Stuart Family: While I have never met this family, they are close friends of my friends who serve in PNG. When I heard of Toni’s (wife and mother) diagnosis of a brain tumor and her fatal prognosis, my heart went out to her husband, children, family, and friends. She had begun experiencing strange symptoms, went to Australia for what they thought was a tropical disease, and was gone from this earth in three weeks’ time. She is a mother with two young children. As I prayed for them, I began to imagine what that would be like and then, like a violent and stormy flashback, my own experience came back in a wave of grief and a fresh realization of my circumstances. I know EXACTLY what that is like, I lived it. It seems I go through life for a while and then I awake to find myself without Chris by my side.
In those wee morning hours yesterday, I was experiencing what everyone who has lost a spouse experiences, an aching for the comfort of my constant companion. The layers of loss are often difficult to name or comprehend until they literally hit you in the face. Yesterday, I was able to put words to the longing I was experiencing after a week with the ups and downs of living in a very broken world; I simply needed a hug. It sounds simple, you’re probably thinking, but that is no longer a part of my life. I realized how much I miss having someone to walk hand-in-hand with, to have an arm to hold as we walk along, a hug at the end of a hard day, and the playful, teasing touches that come after many years spent together. This is one of the many parts of this journey that S-T-I-N-K-S. I realize, though, that I am not alone in this and that God SEES my need and KNOWS MY HEART’S NEEDS AND DESIRES. So, I did what I know how to do: I turned the thoughts into prayers, got UP, and put on the worship music. I’m pretty sure I played the song, “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns about six times in a row. Listen to it for the full effect! Some of the lyrics go like this:
“Lift your hands, lift your eyes
in the storm is where you find me
and where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart.
Come to me, find your rest
In the arms of a God who won’t let go…”
The familiar lyrics ministered to me and literally brought me into God’s presence where I was able to have a very real conversation with Him. It was the kind of talk you have with a parent when you’re just trying to get them to understand your point and how you’re feeling. HE was telling me to surrender and let HIM hold me, promising me that He COULD be and WANTS to be my all-in-all. “But, Lord,” I explained, “You don’t have ARMS with skin on them. I need someone who can wrap his arms around me.”
His response was clear and gave me immediate perspective. I’ll leave you with HIS words. I’m pretty sure you know how to pray for me and for the friends I am burdened for. I pray I’ll never forget what He reminded me of yesterday:
“Michelle, I HAD arms when I walked the earth. They were spread out and nailed to a Cross for you. Isn’t that enough?”