Friday, March 22, 2013

wondering what's behind the curtain

Something is stirring backstage.
Winter has lost its grip, but spring is not quite here.
Birds flutter and chirp in the trees, repairing old nests, building new ones.
            But as of yet there are no leaves to hide them.
Squirrels scurry about, sniffing, digging for half-remembered acorns.
My soul is restless, too. Expectant. Wondering. Searching, even.
What's next?
Something is stirring, but it's too soon to tell what.

In just a handful of weeks we've walked with friends through cancer, emergency surgeries, loss of a baby, loss of jobs, loss of funding, insomnia, painful waiting, depression, chronic pain, conflict and misunderstanding. It's been heartbreaking. In those same weeks we've seen students accepted, funding promised, proposals completed, chapters written, dissertations finished, jobs offered, and babies born. Life refuses to stand still. Surprises wait around every corner.

Some dear college friends, Heath and Emie, put it so beautifully in a recent email (which they agreed to let me share with you):

In August, Jesus made it abundantly clear that we were to step back from something that was very dear to our hearts. At the time, we didn't understand what God was doing but we followed him into an unknown space and waited.  I told people during the time from August to December that it was like we were sitting in auditorium with the curtain drawn across the stage.  We could sense tons of preparation and movement behind the curtain but we had no idea what would be playing when the curtain was pulled, much less what the stage might look like.  

What's behind the curtain? What is God doing that I cannot see?
For Heath and Emie, the curtain has opened, and the scene awaiting them has brought both joy and tears. God is calling them onstage—calling them back to Africa. Emie admits,
The last two months have been hard for me.  I've cried buckets of tears.  I told Heath it's not that I'm not ready to go. . . I just know what I'm going to.  There's no blind anticipation and adrenaline rush this time.  I know the poverty that will be right outside my gate every morning.  I can still see the faces of the street kids going through my trash as soon as I turn my back to walk into my house.  I remember the sadness in the eyes of the people who live with virtually nothing, sick and dying.  And it undoes me.  At least it did 6 years ago.
Back to poverty. Back to sickness, sadness, and death.
Waiting can be hard, but sometimes knowing is even harder.

Having the courage of a Garry Friesen or a Heath and Emie Locke does not erase the suffering of surrender. We surrender because we trust that the One who is directing this drama knows best. And we'd rather be part of the story He's writing, no matter how difficult the role, than miss what he is doing.

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