Sunday, May 30

I woke up this morning to look at the caller id on my cell phone. It was ringing with "unknown" in the window. I thought to myself..."better answer, after all it could be a call from Iraq". Now, I have never received a call from someone across the ocean. I don't even remember talking to my brother when he was overseas. I was not even expecting a phone call. But when I answered it was, in fact, the long lost voice of my friend Joe, calling from the front lines of the war.

All weekend long, I have felt a strange weight about something. The longer I keep in contact with soldiers who fight for freedom, the more I read about the stories that are taking place, the closer I feel to the front lines. Have I seen or tasted of the death that they face all day long? No. Have I slept in the bitter sands and missed the sight of home? No. But my heart breaks, for the soldiers who lay their lives down, for the oppressed people of Iraq who long for freedom.

This war, like all in ages past will shape the history of this world. Out loud I ask, what is this world coming to? In my heart, I cry out, why this way? I have only understood war from the perspective of a text book. I have heard stories, romantic and gruesome, of strangers who sacrificed their lives and won victories for the freedoms I enjoy today. This is the first time that I know those who are there. This is the first time that I can connect those around me with the current events we are now facing. I have no words to describe the aching inside of me. I feel helpless. I feel humbled. I am in awe.

And now, after reading A Table in the Presence, I feel as if I have seen a new facet of the power of God. Indeed, He is moving among the nations. His purposes will be accomplished. War is necessary, inevitable, powerful, effective. It is gruesome, heart wrenching, terrible, full of death. One seeks power by selfishly twisting and infringing upon the statutes of freedom, the other seeks freedom from that power. I know Jesus. I know the end result. I know that He seeks the peoples of those nations who are at war. I know that He longs to be known by them. The picture is bigger than you and I. It is bigger than one war. It is bigger than only one country. God is moving among the nations. Behind this war there is a people struggling for life. And beyond every news report is a story of God's faithfulness. He is restoring. He is bringing new life. Lord, let us see it with our eyes too. Restore our hope in the days to come.

Thursday, May 27

Today I received a present from one of my students. He had hidden it at my desk, so I opened it alone before class formally started. I could tell that he had taken much time and thought for the wrapping process. Daniel had written a note, in his broken English, who knows what it really said. :) He had then attached a gift to the note, wrapped in crumpled up notebook paper with ducktape securely in place. To top it off, a peppermint candy was placed beside the gift. (It was later eaten by Daniel.) The gift itself was a large pearl necklace with other beads attached. He later came and made sure that I had received the gift and that I liked it. He then told me that he had rescued it from being thrown away by his mother. His gift was precious. It came from his heart. He made my day. And although Daniel never sits in his seat, never really seems to listen when we are learning in class, and never stops tapping, twirling, drumming, or talking, I totally believe that somehow I have made a difference.

I don't know if I have taught these kids any academics that they will remember. (but I sure hope so) I don't know if I have given them enough structure or discipline to learn by. What I do know is that above and beyond learning how to tell time and count money, I want them to know their worth. I want them to know that they can walk in love and forgiveness. I want them to realize that they do not have to walk bitter as many of their parents do. I want them to believe in themselves enough to try and to problem solve. I want to see them push for something better. These are the true lessons that will get them through the hardships of life. These are the lessons I want to base my teaching around.

Sunday, May 23

So I haven't been very faithful to my blog lately, but that does not discredit the fact that my life has been overwhelmingly full of thoughts that I hope one day will transform into words. So to you who are faithful to check up on me every once in awhile...all is well. Transition time is here.

Right now, there is a very large thunderstorm brewing outside. I am wondering if a tornado will take place somewhere in the vicinity. Of course, I have not been in Oklahoma long enough to recognize the difference in the shapes of thunderstorm clouds vs. tornado clouds. I have only been here long enough to know that any storm excites the weathermen, who give detailed accounts of pertinent information that must interrupt regularly scheduled programming. So right now I am going to turn on the tv. Okay, still just a thunderstorm.

Anyways, I am reading a book called A Table in the Presence by Lt. Carey H. Cash. He talks about being on the front lines of the current war that we are facing. He was with the first groups to enter Iraq. Miracle after miracle occured and God protected these men on the front lines. Many soldiers have committed their lives to Christ. What an amazing story that we do not hear from CNN or any other public news network. My faith has been both challenged and encouraged. Every person Christian or otherwise needs to read the account of these soldiers who faced death all day long and whose God delivered them out of their affliction.

My friends Joe and John are there right now, on the front lines in Iraq. My life will never be the same because of their courage and their faith. They are sacrificing their lives all day long for people who do not understand the freedom that they bring and the sacrifice they are willing to make. Even children throw rocks at them, and still they lay their lives down. God recently reminded me of this verse which I sent in an email to Iraq...
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Christ was hated by those that He died for. He brought freedom to those who did not understand and could not perceive the great gift He had brought to them. These soldiers carry the same job with honor. We Christians should carry the call just as firmly, just as resolute.