Sunday, January 31, 2010

Future Plans

It was around this time last year that I wrote a blog post announcing my decision to extend my time of service in the Czech Republic. I cited the reasons why I thought I ought to stay and the process which I was about to begin in preparing to make that happen. I was filled with uncertainty about my future here, but I knew that's what I wanted to happen. I entrusted it to the Lord, and He made it happen. I'm so grateful and so glad. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I love it here, I've learned so much of the language, fallen in love with the people, and had many incredible opportunities to share Christ with those who don't know Him. But after two years, it's time to move on. That's why this year I'm not making plans to stay. I'm planning to return to the US and to continue my education, to get some really solid theological and human care training so that I can become a deaconess in the LCMS.

I've completed my application to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and am planning on sending it to the admissions office tomorrow. Last year I was hoping to still be in the Czech Republic in August, this year I'm hoping to move to St. Louis at the end of that month. Just like last year, I've got all kinds of uncertainty about it. I don't know that I'll get accepted to the deaconess program, but as before (as always) I'm trusting it into the Lord's care. Should I be accepted, excellent, praise God. Should I not, okay, praise the Lord.

Please join me in praying that God would have His way and that I will trust Him, come what may.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weeping with those who weep

Oh Haiti! My heart mourns for your disaster, for the utter devastation that the earthquake has wrought. The pain and the loss and the questioning "why?" I weep for you as you search the rubble of a razed city, seeking desperately for survivors, hoping to recover more alive than dead. This surely is a season for mourning, the season for dancing will not come till long from now.

Haiti, how I long to come to you, to show you sympathy and to comfort you. But I am able to look at you only from this far off place. I don't recognize you, your face distorted now like the face of dear old Job, which in his affliction was unrecognizable to his friends. Like his friends, I long to raise my voice and weep, to tear my robes and sit with you, dust on our heads, crying to heaven. I would sit with you silently a week, speaking nothing, for I know that your suffering, too, is very great.

But when our week would pass, I would not open my mouth to accuse you of your sin. I would not presume upon God's purposes to explain that your forlorn condition is your fault. Of course, sin is the cause of all wickedness and suffering in the world. But I know that those whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices, and those on whom the Tower of Siloam fell were no more wicked than I. So I presume not your guilt in your adversity.

Though I would not accuse you, I am still as wicked a friend as Job's. Your affliction is not new. Your troubles have assaulted you for many days. And I have done nothing. I have not had compassion, I have not had a care for you. Have I prayed for you? Have I made your plight known? Have I done anything within my small might to assist? No. Please forgive me, even in the midst of your present anguish. I repent.

Would that I could set it all right, that I could wind back time and somehow prevent such horror from befalling you, even the first horrors you experienced before this week. I cannot undo what has been done. But I do know One who is making all things new, whose task it is to restore all things to the peace, glory, and perfection of Eden, even better, to bring them to fullness in the kingdom of God, the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.

Cling to Him in your trouble, the only Christ who has suffered for you even as you are suffering, who died for you even as many of you are dying. Jesus lives for you, and because of Him, you will again see life. He will turn your suffering into hope. Let this be my wise counsel and word of comfort to you.

And I will mourn with you, but not as one without hope.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thought for the New Year and a Resolution

On New Year's Day I read this marvelous long quotation from C.F.W. Walther, the founding president of the LCMS during my devotions using the Treasury of Daily Prayer. It's long, but I think it's worth it. Enjoy!

"Should the christian stand all day long at the grave of all joys which he enjoyed in past years? Through Holy Baptism a great stream of joy has been conducted in his heart, which does not drain away, but streams forward with his life until its waves carry him into the sea of a blessed eternity. Should the Christian be reminded all day long that the flowers of his youth fall more and more? He stands planted by God in the water of his Baptism as a palm tree which becomes greener and greener and whose leaves never wither. Yes, his Baptism makes death for him like a short winter's nap, out of which an eternal spring-- an eternal youth-- follows.

"For Baptism is a bath that washed me not only once when I received it-- washed me pure with Christ's blood-- but it continuously washes me clean even daily for as long as I hold it in faith. For just as that same water of the flood drowned the sinners, but Noah with his relatives were brought to salvation and carried to Mount Ararat, so also did the water of my Baptism drown my sins, but my soul was brought to the eternal mountain of divine grace. And just as once those same waves of the Red Sea, which swallowed up Pharaoh and his army, were a protective wall for Israel, so also has my baptismal water swallowed up all of my damnation and is for me a sure wall before God's wrath and punishment...

"Now then, all of you who believe in God's Word, let your watchword for entering the new year be this: 'I am baptized!' Although the world may laugh at this comfort, the enthusiasts vex its confidence... nevertheless, abandon any other dearly held pledges and speak only throughout the entire year to come, in all terrors of conscience and necessity through sin and death: 'I am baptized! I am baptized! Hallelujah!' And you shall prevail! In every time of need, you will find comfort in your Baptism; on account of it Satan will flee from your faith and confession; and in death you will see heaven opened and will finally come into the joy of your Lord to celebrate a great year of jubilee, a year of praise, with all the angels forever and ever. Amen!"

So, I've decided that my New Year's Resolution is this: to remember daily the promises I've been given by God because I've been baptized into Him, to daily drown my old nature, to flee from sin and to Christ, and to live a life of service to my neighbor because of the great love Christ has shown me. May God grant it!