But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... Eph. 2:13-14

Sunday, June 19

Yellow Spider, Yellow Leaf, Confirms my Deepest Held Belief.

You know what I hate?


I hate that I just killed a spider.

Most of the time I can get by without thinking too deeply about it, but when these times of contemplation hit, they tear me up inside. That spider died because it was doing what it was created to do. It was in my home because it had an instinct to survive, and it survived best in my home until now. It had nothing against me, nothing against my way of living. It did not know that there is a no-spider rule in this house, and there was no way to tell it that.

And in one smash of a shoe, I extinguished life. Life! You can't replace that! I can't dispose of a little life and make more later (and if I could, it would end in a long-winded, yawn-inducing intellectual monster like Frankenstein's, I'm sure).

Don't misunderstand me. I don't think of myself as a murderer, or a trampler of arachnid rights. The spider needed to die. I needed the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the spider is not going to crawl into my bed and bite me. My issue is with the fact that the system of our world is death. It troubles me. It's wrong. It doesn't fit with the world God created, and I can feel it. All death is a result of sin, even the death of my tiny nemesis.

Off and on, whenever I have time and I'm not distracted, I've been reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. So far it is a fantastic book (although I must admit, I seem to be a sucker for Russian literature). The issues and mindsets that are brought up in this book make you think, whether you accept them as your own views or no. Whenever I am struck by the grimness of mortality, whenever I find a dead bird or mouse, or smash a spider with my shoe, I think of one of the characters in Karamozov.
"Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me, for I have sinned against you too." None of us could understand that at the time, but he shed tears of joy. "Yes," he said, "there was such a glory of God all about me; birds, trees, meadows, sky, only I lived in shame and dishonoured it all and did not notice the beauty and glory."

When I first read these words, I dismissed them as extreme, impractical, and misdirected. And yet, as I discover more and more how all creation groans and suffers in its slavery to corruption, I find myself wanting to apologize to all that is touched by death's cold hand. The wages of sin is death, and though Christ has taken my death for me, my sinful actions take their toll on Creation.

Ultimately, whether I sin or not has little effect on the death in this world. There was quite enough sin in Eve's bite of fruit to ruin all of creation. But when I sin I show utter disregard for every crushed insect, for every withered flower, for every blue jay-raided nest, for every dead animal on the side of the road, for every cancer, for every star gone super nova. And more than these things, when I sin I show this disregard for the Death that brought Life.

This isn't a guilt trip for you or for me. It's simply an observation, and the voicing of a thought that I have long held in my mind. It's the reason I could never hunt, and the reason I sometimes go through vegetarian phases. But more than that, it's fuel to my desire for an eternity full of God's holiness, glory, and perfection!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:18-25

The title of this post comes from the song "Yellow Spider" by MewithoutYou.

Nabawl lamdangnate hangin, Topa nang kongphat uh hi.

Hi-ho! I hope this post finds you well and joyful in the Lord. After two long weeks of waiting, I'm finally ready to tell you what happened after I made my last post. Sorry to leave you all on the edge of your seats for so long, but life has been rather insane (on a side note, when has life ever been sane?). So here we go. Hopefully I won't forget too much.

The week of June 6th was absolutely amazing. In fact, though I'm trying to only use this word when I mean it in its fullest sense, I would go so far as to say it was an awesome week. "Well now Sarah," I can hear you saying, "care to describe this week as anything other than vague adjectives that begin with the letter A?" Absolutely.

I've been trying to find a good way to sum up the week, but these attempts have been rather unsuccessful. The best I've been able to come up with so far is to rush my listeners through what a typical day was like. So imagine this.

You wake up in a very nice apartment after a very nice sleep. If you're me, you have your quiet time and then dress and eat very quickly, as you enjoy sleeping more than you enjoy eating breakfast. Once you're presentable, it's off to the classroom to worship with your classmates (I'm not sure what else to call them) and then hear a devotion brought to you by someone who has worked on the field as a Bible translator.
Now that your morning is sufficiently off to a fantastic start, you get a taste of translation and linguistics. You learn about phonetics, or grammar, or literacy, or how technology is used in Bible translation. Some days you even get to try hands-on language learning with refugees from Myanmar/Burma. More than anything, you learn about difficulties in translation that never would've crossed your mind. Things like, how do you translate "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson,they shall become like wool." (Is. 1:18b) for a culture who cannot comprehend what snow is, and who do not own sheep?
After many, many short breaks, a lunch, and about half an hour of free time, the day winds down with a meal from a certain country. One night you eat chicken in a peanut sauce from Côte d'Ivoire, another night is full of yams and plantain from Papua New Guinea. After your delicious meal, it's back up to the classroom to hear field reports from Wycliffe workers around the world. If you're me, one of the best parts of your week is getting to mingle with people who have not only travelled the world, but who have been directly used by God to get His Word to every people, tribe, and tongue.

I want to thank everyone who prayed for me while I was away, and who may be praying for me still. True to its name, that week gave me a Taste of Translation and Linguistics. To my palate, it was full of exotic flavors that, though I was fascinated by them, I could not digest. Through the little homework we did, and all of the lectures we heard, the Lord made it very clear to me that I have not been given the mind of a linguist. As much as I love words, things like phonology and grammar were very difficult for me. I actually wonder if they were so very difficult for me because so many were praying for me to see clearly what the Lord would and would not have me do.

In the end, Wycliffe needs teachers, and would love for me to be one of them. I don't really want to be a teacher, though. In fact, I've been against having a future as a teacher for a very long time. Wycliffe also gave me some fantastic advice, however. They instructed me to go to the adult Christians who love me and know me best, and ask them to pray and counsel me. Naturally, I went to my parents. At this point I highly doubt that I will work with Wycliffe as more than a prayer partner and hopefully someday financial supporter, but I'm trying to remain open to whatever the Lord would have me do. If He makes it clear that He would have me go as a teacher, then by His strength I will go.

So, as I'm sure you can tell, prayers are very much appreciated. This past week God really had to work in me, and one of the things He worked in me was a renewed patience and peace. I still do not know the way I go, but oh, I know my Guide!

Soli Deo Gloria!

P.S. Another thing God showed me during TOTAL It Up was what amazing people He can make! His diverse taste is beautiful. I met people of different cultures, and people who far, far surpassed me in intelligence, and yet we all worshiped our Great God, and He received all of the glory. It was a beautiful thing, and made me long for Heaven even more! It also made last week, which I spent at a Baptist camp serving in the kitchen feel rather culturally stifling. But that's just me.

The title of the post is translated "For the miracles you did show us Lord, we praise 'n adore Thee." Taken from the Zokam hymn A Beitheilo Hehpihna

Sunday, June 5

I may not know the way I go, but oh! I trust my Guide!

Well, I really thought that when I posted again 'twould be with something cheery, but that doesn't seem to be the case. We'll see, I suppose.

'Twas the night before Wycliffe, and deep in the house,
Sarah was shaking like a timid little mouse.

This moment is so very much different than I expected it to be. Back in February, when I signed up for TOTAL, all I wanted was direction and a husband. Actually, I would've just taken the husband. When the Lord promised me that June would hold some answers, I was ecstatic! All of my worries were blown away with one word: June! Not sure if I should invest in a car? Oh Lord, hasten June! Not sure if I should get a job? Oh Lord, hasten June! Struggling to keep my heart captive? Oh Lord, PLEASE hasten June!

At some point in the Spring, I think I really did have this idea that on June first Dad was going to say, "Sarah, I just had a very interesting conversation with [insert name of some godly young man that I'd probably meet before June here]..." And maybe, just maybe, that [scottish?] young man [who lived in California?] would want to translate Bibles! Yeah! In June, everything I wanted would come to be. With fireworks and a parade.

Instead, I find myself five days into June (which is miserably hot and full of cicadas) scared to death. And single. And fat due to gluttony. But amazing things have happened in the past four months.
One of the most amazing of which (I believe) is that I am content to be single! I noticed it the other day, and I'm honestly afraid to think about it much at all. I'm afraid I'll wake up from this blissful dream. I'm not struggling to keep my heart captive, and I don't feel lonely! I'm content, and I pray that I will stay that way until I meet my husband. To see this growth is, to me, worth ten times the wait.

Another is that I'm not really worried about the future. I'm afraid of what I may encounter in that future, but I'm not worried about how I will get there. Whatever I find-pain, sadness, comfort, joy-will all be part of one great story. I trust the Author, so why worry? "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

I am such a fool, though. Seriously, I'm afraid that I'm going to mess up God's sovereign plan. My head knows that that is impossible, but I still feel afraid. What if I think God's not calling me to Wycliffe only because I chicken out? What if I go that route only because I don't know of anything else to do, but that's not what God has planned for my life and it all ends in tears and misery?

These are the thoughts of a fool, and it's a fool who lets them into her brain. Typing them out has helped me, however. Tell me, Timid Heart, do you honestly believe that your God, who has brought you through so much (though it is so little), would leave you stranded? That He would ignore all of the pleas you, your parents, and your brothers and sisters in Christ have been offering? Prayers begging for clarity and direction? You honestly think that the God who loved you enough to die for you would now leave the life He purchased with His blood floundering in some sort of cruel mirror-maze of doubt? Fie upon thee!

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"
Matthew 8:23-27 ESV

When I began this post, my heart was heavy with doubt and pre-departure homesickness. But if my God is with me, whom then shall I fear? Bring on the storm! It will only serve to give me a clearer understanding of my Lord!

"I may not know the way I go, but oh! I know my Guide!
His love can never fail!
His love can never fail!
My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail!"

That being said, you will pray for me this week, yeah? ;)