Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Facebook is a bad, yet fascinating, habit. It's great for news of friends...or acquaintances, rather.  It's also GREAT for drawing my attention to topical items. Sometimes I cry. Often I pray. Usually, at some point, I smile or even giggle.

I pray for Syrian refugees when I see the work that our dear friends' daughter has done, rescuing people from the sea as they arrive on a tiny Greek island. Or when I see other friends posting about Europe's reluctance to take in the homeless and the stranger.

I ponder as I read many, many thoughtful posts from Christian writers. Thank you, Proverbs 31 Ministries. Thank you, Bob.

And it was today that Bob's words rang most true, among the encouragement to godly living, the inspiration to begin each day afresh in loving God and others.

Bob talks about the grieving he is going through after his wife, Lyn's, death from from cancer. He quotes a story from a missionary to India, Paul Hiebert: "Yellayya, a village elder who had come to faith in Jesus, came to Mr Hiebert to report that children were dying in his village from smallpox. The elder said that the other elders in desperation had sent for a diviner who told them that the goddess of smallpox was angry. To satisfy this goddess and stop the plague, the village would have to perform the water buffalo sacrifice. Further, every family in the village would need to contribute toward the purchase of the buffalo. The Christians refused to do this. After much pressure however, many Christians were about to concede, planning to tell God they did not mean it. But Yellayya refused to let them contribute. However, now one of the Christian girls had come down with smallpox. Yellayya came to Mr Hiebert to ask him to pray for healing of the girl.
The missionary wrestled with this because, being from the West where we do not really deal with this realm of spirits and healings very skillfully, he was not trained nor experienced in this kind of prayer. (btw, you may be able to find this article online, "The Flaw of the Excluded Middle." The article counsels a balance avoiding either extreme of secularism or Christian animism.)
Anyway, Mr. Hiebert joined in a prayer meeting for the sick child.
(Still with me?.....)
A week later, Yellayya returned to say that the child had died. Hiebert felt thoroughly defeated, "Who was I to be a missionary if I could not pray for healing and receive a positive answer?" But a few weeks later Yellayya came again with a sense of triumph. Hiebert asked how he could be so happy. The elder replied, "The village would have acknowledged the power of our God had he healed the child, but they knew in the end she would have to die. When they saw in the funeral our hope of resurrection and reunion in heaven, they saw an even greater victory--over death itself--and they have begun to ask about the Christian way."

Glory! For me the capstone is Hieberts comment: "I began to realize in a new way that true answers to prayer are those that bring the greatest glory to God, not those that satisfy my immediate desires. It is all too easy to make Christianity a new magic in which we as gods can make God do our bidding."

We prayed fervently for Lyn to be healed from acute leukemia in 2000, and God chose to overcome the power of that illness. To God be the glory! In 2015 we prayed fervently for Lyn to be healed from esophageal cancer, and God chose to display our victory through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has loved Lyn so much -- and trusted you and me so much -- that He has chosen to display an even greater glory than healing. He has shown, through your faith and mine, that Jesus has defeated death through His resurrection. And that is the greater glory, and for that I am glad! Even as I weep now, I am profoundly joyful. Thank you for journeying with us. May your hope be renewed as you reflect on the powerful witness of Lyn Perrin Rasmussen."

True answers to prayer are those that bring the GREATEST glory to God. And, sometimes, that glory is to show our faith in Jesus.

I ponder these words as I negotiate the tricky minefield of relationships at work, as I seek to live humbly, love mercy and do justly. Often, in teaching, I err on the 'justly', seeking 'justice' for the children I teach, trying to show them the right way to behave. Often, I feel as if I am light on mercy and love. Often, I am tempted to first defend my corner when challenged, rather than taking the humble path and admit that I could be wrong.

So I will aim, again as I begin a new day, to focus on God's glory.

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