Monday, December 7, 2015

My wish list for today...

In four short hours she will walk through my gate. Her closely cut hair will bear no braids, her slightly scarred face will frame a shy smile, her dark brown eyes will look down.
...and i...
i will work carefully to give her a map.
My hands will not hold it, my words must.
And those words will need to come ever so gently, but with a sure pressing of the Truth in them.

She is suffering from a “disease” that is perhaps slowly killing more people than we might imagine possible. This 20 year old treasure whose eyes shine with kindness, holds a dark spot in her heart. It's not cancer --- it's worse.
It's not TB – but it is suffocating her.
It's not pneumonia which so often closes in on the last breaths of those suffering from HIV-AIDS (but thankfully she does not suffer from either).
There's no medicine she can take for this sickness that has stolen her peace and brings suffering to her heart.

But there is an antidote available. This morning we will begin administering it.
Forgiveness is the only cure for her.
To forgive another for the wrong they have committed against us ---- it is the only way to detach the chains that silently, but firmly come, when we suffer from the selfish acts of others. Those chains do not disappear on their own. They must be mastered; they must be broken.

When she was a child, only 4 or 5 years old, she had been left in the care of her aunt and uncle while her mother went to work in the fields of Uganda. Family land was producing a good harvest there, and that harvest would feed children and pay school fees. Those two needs are ever on the minds of African mommas here. How to feed and educate their children... they think on it constantly. One speaks of survival, the other of hope.
While her mother worked in the field harvesting, she was to help her auntie gather sugar cane. She would sleep in their hut and work beside her aunt through the day. Her mother would send money from Uganda to help pay for the ugali (food) she would eat. It was a good plan ---- but...
The uncle was a “lion” in his home. It's the way his fellow Kenyans would describe him. Aloof, distant, commanding, and in charge; this man held himself apart from the “underlings” that lived under “his” roof, and when he growled, everyone scattered.
She understood this dynamic. She was not one to rebel or cause trouble.
Obediently she did exactly what she was told to do. Like a furry cub, she hung close to her auntie and did whatever work was asked of her.
But one day as the “lioness and cub” finished their work gathering sugar cane from the field. They carried the load on their backs as they talked and laughed. She remembers her aunt's playful way as they chewed on sugar cane together and walked the dirt path home. It was a treat to chew on small pieces of the sweet cane they had work to gather --- what they carried on their backs would bring a good profit at market the next day.
Chewing on the cane, sucking the sugary juice from the thick fibers, and then spitting the remains out on the roadway, they made their way home in time to prepare ugali before the “lion” returned.
All was right in their world... or so they thought.

As the fire warmed the cooking pot, her uncle returned with a scowl on his face. His words, “Did you harvest the sugar cane today?” Auntie softly spoke, “Yes, and tomorrow we will take it to market.” The growling voice lowered, “But someone robbed us, and even chewed our cane spitting out the remains on our trail.” “No one robbed us husband, we only enjoyed a treat ourselves, rewarding our stomachs from the work of our hands.” The little girl by the fire kept her brown eyes lowered. The “lion” was growling, the “lioness” was there to protect.

Three days later the little girl woke. The pain she felt would not allow her to open her eyes. It felt as if an elephant were sitting on her head, holding it in a painful vice between the ground and the sky. She could move her arms and legs, but the slightest shift of her neck shot agony throughout her little body. Someone spooned water and porridge into her mouth, swallowing was unbearable. For many days she lay this way, unable to see, unable to move. Someone cleaned the ground beneath her grass matt, she was unaware of the excrement her body released, all she knew was a blind splitting pain. She wondered ---- “is this what death feels like?”
Weeks passed by, and in that time, she began to hear voices again. Then slowly-by-slowly she was able to open her eyes. The light shot new surges of pain from her head to her toes. She preferred keeping her eyes closed even though she knew she could still see, for when the sun went down, she opened her eyelids just a sliver to watch the firelight under the ugali pot.
In time, she began to sit up in the dark. It was easier in the darkness.
Her auntie had been caring for her day and night; always caring for her head, feeding her, and cleaning her body tenderly.
Her mother was soon to return. How thankful the little girl was to know that she was not actually dead; she would see her mother again.

When her mother returned, the “lion” was away. Auntie wept as she explained the deep wound that now marred the top of her nieces head. The uncle had become angry when the little girl and her auntie had admitted to chewing on bits of sugar cane after harvesting from the field. He had called them thieves, and had vented his anger on them. For his little niece, he had chosen a large stick out of the firewood, and standing behind her, had swung it like an ax onto the top of her tiny, brown, bowed head. The auntie received her punishment in other painful ways.
No doctor had visited to care for the child, as the “lion” had declared he would not spend a shilling to care for a thief. So the auntie had done the best she could to care for and pray over the wounded little harvester.

The mother was outraged, for her very own brother who had done this to her child.
But not even a lioness can stand against a lion.

She gathered her daughter, prayed with her sister-in-law, and went.

In this culture, there is little recourse for a woman or child who have been wronged by a man. There is even less to be done if you do not have money to hire a lawyer. If she had called the police, (we are told by all here) they would have surely laughed at her. But worse still, since the offender was a family member, it would have been considered shameful to have caused any trouble for the brother. What happens in the family ---- stays in the family... the strong rule, the weak suffer... if the weak do not want to suffer, they better grow strong.
So, nothing was done to hold the brother accountable; nothing could be done.
The little girl was lovingly cared for by her mother. And in time, she recovered fully except for an unending headache, tenderness to her entire scalp (she can not bear for her hair to be braided), and a deep wound in her soul.
She struggles to forget. She wants to forgive. She fears her uncle. She fears all “lions”. She trusts slowly. She feels strangled by the claws of helplessness – she remembers how it feels to be unable to move, to see, to hear, to feel safe.

When she speaks, her voice is soft and gentle.
When i speak to her, my voice is as well.
She exudes kindness.
She compels kindness around her.

Her head never stops hurting. Even all these years later, she carries the physical reminder of her punishment for chewing a few bites of sugar cane walking home from a day of harvesting.

She was wronged. Terribly wronged.

Today she will walk through my gate. We will open The Book together.
I will share Truth with her ------- the only way to be free from the chains of injustice are to clip them with the work of forgiving.
Judges could rule and put all evil-doers in countless prison cells.
But it would not release her mind from the bondage it holds within its wounded self.

Honesty compels me to scream through silent words typed ----- IT --- IS ----- NOT------ FAIR!!!!!
She was wounded. She suffers still. But now today SHE will have to go the extra distance to forgive the one who wronged her --- in order for her to be free.
I lift my “unwounded” head to the One who is over all things ---- and i weep for her. She was a litttttttle girrrrrrrrl attacked by selfish meanness.
Abba ---- help her ---- punish the one who wronged her ---- let her feel your protection today, even though she was not protected then.

Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

It's the weakness she felt as a helpless child that holds her in this place of deep anger and silent suffering. She wakes in the night angry. She sees the face of the lion-uncle. She cringes when she hears his voice on the days the family gathers together and he acts as if the scar she bears is normal. She shrinks from his presence and yet never seems to be free from it.

Her wounds must today be used to remind her of the strength she carries within her. Only the strong can survive such wrongs. Only the able can rise above such offenses. Anger whispers to her to use her strength to hold offenses against her offender. But the Good One tells us to use our strength to rise above the offense, forgive it, hand it to God, and break the chains that hold us down.

It is through our suffering that we can be transformed... if we will allow it to complete its work in us. Strength is needed in these waters.

I sit with Isaiah as the sun rises through these acacia trees.
And the whisper comes strong ----
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me (so there is no value in thinking in my little-person-ways), for the Lord has anointed me (why me, i have no idea, but i know He stirs me and i must follow) to bring good news to the poor (and today, that poor one is the little wounded girl in the young lady's body who will walk through my black gate with an aching heart). He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed (prisoners are not held captive by only bars of steel – more often hearts and minds hold chains around them). He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies (yes, my Good God is angry over the wrongs done to the innocent). To those who mourn in Zion (the place where Jesus is found), He will give a crown of beauty for ashes (and may that crown completely cover the scar she bears, help me help her see this Lord), a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins... repair cities destroyed... revive them... (what was ruined can be rebuilt, what was destroyed can be repaired)
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor... (suffering can bring strength that will be used for good)
For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.” (from Isaiah 61)

Your Words are perfect Lord.
Help me today to help her see how Your Words fit perfectly in her.

There is controversy everywhere Lord. People argue over everything. Everyone seems to have an opinion they are certain is right. But, no one, NO ONE is actually right. There are shootings and bombs from terrorists, there are refugees running for their lives. There are shoppers shopping and Christmas lights twinkling, and wish lists shared, and wallets emptying -------------- this world is madness Lord.
I long for you to take us Home Lord.
My clay-covered self can barely make sense of it all (actually --- i can't).
But for today's portion --- i thank You Lord ---- and i ask You for help ---- as one of Your treasures walks through my gate and sits beside me.
My wish list today Lord -----
please set her free and heal her wounds.


  1. He was a man of sorrows and familiar with grief. He bears His own scars. I have prayed and believe He guided your words today.

    Peace, my sister. He Himself is our Peace.

    1. Yes -- He IS our Peace. He was very present today friend --- thank you for praying!!