Sunday, May 3, 2009
I've been thinking a lot about caravans over the past two days. I know, that sounds random...but let me explain. My mom recently sent me a package (whoo hoo for mom!!) with a book called "Wilderness Skills for Women: how to survive heartbreak and other full-blown meltdowns." Well, for anyone who knows me, I'm not one for reading Christian books for women...but this one has kept me up late reading at night. Ok, back to caravans. So the author talks about the story of Joseph, and makes a point that just left me dumbfounded. I know, I know...we all know the story of Joseph. But she brought up a really interesting point about caravans. When we think about God's provision for Joseph, we think about the master plan: Joseph ending up in Egypt, the dreams, the prophecy, saving the country from famine, and eventually saving his entire family (Jesus would be the descendant of that family!). But the author rewinds to the moment when Joseph is in the well. His brothers have just thrown him in to die, and then here comes along a caravan bound for Egypt! It's that caravan that takes Joseph toward his calling in life. So here's the point...that caravan didn't just appear out of nowhere. The caravan set out for that journey long before it went by that well. God, in His amazing provision and sovereignty, sent the caravan on its way at some point before we even pick up the story at the well. So what does this have to do with a lonely girl living in the middle of Kuwait? Well, it's made me think about the caravans in my own life...the ones that have already given me a ride, and the ones that are still coming. When I look at my life here in Kuwait, I don't always understand why God led me here. Even though I made the decision to come here, I often look back on the past year and wonder how I ended up on the other side of the world. What is God's purpose in all this? But then I think of caravans...I think about the ways that God provides and leads us toward our calling and our purpose. I think about how God knew I would end up here even before Kuwait was a possibility in my mind. And I think about all the caravans that might be journeying toward my life right now. As a single woman, it's natural to hope that one of those caravans might be a man. Maybe it will be a different location, a different job, a different ministry, different friends...but whatever caravans come my way, they were ordained long before the caravans cross paths with my life. The beauty and the mystery of all this is that as believers, we are called to hope...to faith. And that brings me to my second aha moment of the week. In the wake of these thoughts about caravans, I found a new TV channel here in Kuwait. I know, exciting. But I can't describe the joy in my heart when I stumbled across reruns of NCIS, Alias, and the Dead Zone. Pathetic, maybe. But I almost started crying (it's amazing how a little taste of something familiar in the midst of unfamiliarity can loosen those tear ducts). Anyway, I digress. So tonight I was supposed to hang out with a friend but she fell asleep and never came over. So I laid around and watched an episode of the Dead Zone (fabulous series if you never saw it). I won't bore you with the details of the episode, but suffice it to say that the characters were all fighting over a little piece of bone believed to be the finger of John the Baptist. There were two main characters: a pastor who had lost his faith, and a priest of the order of John the Baptist who survived the Nazi camps and was trying to recover this relic stolen from his monastery. The main character in the series is a man who can see the past and the future when he touches someone or something. At the end, the pastor who lost his faith pleads with the main character to touch the bone and tell him if it really is John's finger, and to describe what John saw when he looked on the face of Jesus. This pastor believes that hearing that will restore his faith in Christ. The priest on the other hand doesn't need to know and almost doesn't care...he just believes. There's a profound moment when one of the characters explains that faith is believing when there is no proof. Now, I know what faith means, but in the middle of a dark and lonely country, it's hard to always have faith. It took a silly TV show to remind me that God often ordains His people to walk through the wilderness because it's in those dry and desert places that real faith is born. When fellowship and Christian music and theological discussions all fade away, we are left only with what the author of this book calls Mascara Worship...choosing to worship God through our faith and through our tears (hence mascara worship...you know, the black streaks running down the face). So even though I can't see what kinds of caravans God is going to provide, my heart's desire is to continue my mascara worship...to believe that God provides even in the wilderness.