Thursday, November 27, 2014

Getting Out Of Prison

Not all Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving today in the traditional pattern sustained for decades.  And, I'm not referring to those who are employed by the retailers who just have to get a jump on Black Friday.

This morning I'm thinking about those who are trapped, isolated and usually forgotten by families. Men and women who are alive, but have been forsaken and abandoned by the rest of society.  Many of them are overcome with shame and their daily companions are hopelessness and helplessness.

Prisoners


This morning I was withdrawn.  Awake. Silent.  Horizontal on the bed.  Feeling trapped.  And even though my best friend was preparing herself for the day, in the bathroom next to our bedroom, so that she could begin her daily ritual of breakfast preparation ... and even though there were 9 other people living in our house ... and even though God was still present and in charge of my life ... I was feeling isolated and forgotten.  Forsaken and abandoned by the world in which I grew up.  In solitary, making friends with embarrassment and shame for the anger I unleashed on two really good friends the night before.

"A failure."  I heard it whispered in my head.  "Maybe God is attempting to help you through a transition back to a normal life.  You are out of fuel.  You are old enough for retirement.  You aren't really making much of a difference anyway.  It's time for a change."

I sense my wife coming to my side of the bed.  She sits down close to me.  Quietly she asks me, "What are you thankful for today."  My silence continues for a few moments.  My cognitive resources can recall several expected answers.  My emotions are too strong to allow them to escape my lips.  "Good question," I reply softly.

Not long after my response, my wife read this statement to me:  Thanksgiving to God is the only thing that heals our view of the world.

When I stepped out of the KLM airplane this past October 15th, and entered Entebbe Airport here in Uganda, I reentered a War Zone.  I came equipped with fresh vision and energy.  I was prepared to get back to the basic.  This was my 10th year attempting to bring Christ to this nation and it was time to simply love people.  This was my only goal.  The foundation of ministry.  The goal of followers of Christ.  And, it seemed simple enough.

That was six weeks ago.  My soul is a little beat up.  I've faced challenges that I could have never anticipated.  I've been betrayed and abandon by one of our associates with whom we have worked for 10 years.  He was given responsibilities and assets that required trust.  But, that's the bad news.  Though evidence of the spiritual war.

The good news is that three of our other associates joined arms with me and TOGETHER we salvaged, revived, and advanced the project that was sorely neglected.  The unity and energy we have shared has been gifted to us by the Holy Spirit and we are proud of what God has done in us and through us.

But, for some unknown reason, simply because I didn't know where the keys were to our vehicle, I lashed out at two of them last night.  Most would consider it a small thing and perhaps justified. Though it was brief, it was passionate.  It was condescending and abrupt.  It was the flesh.  Not the Spirit.

Though I repented and sought forgiveness soon after it happened ... and though I was graciously forgiven ... I woke this Thanksgiving morning feeling like a prisoner.

After Pam encouraged me, I drug my body off the bed, showered and dressed for the day, I lugged my bible to the veranda and did what my wife encouraged me to do:  "Read the Psalms."

She is a very wise lady.  She understands the nature of the war.  It is a battle for truth.  The enemy traffics in lies.  Jesus is truth.  She knew I was involved in an intense wrestling match and my soul was in danger.  I was discouraged.

I read.  It was a song written by David when he was in a dark and confined place ... a real prison, if you will.
I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord's mercy.  I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles.  When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.  Wherever I go, my eneimies have set traps for me.  I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought!  No one will help me; no cares a bit what happens to me.  THEN I pray to you, O Lord.  I say, "You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.  Hear my cry, for I am very low.  Rescue you me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.  Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me."  (Psalm 142)
BRING ME OUT OF PRISON SO I CAN THANK YOU.

Most likely I was fatigued from the battle.  And, mostly likely, I needed rest from the constant responsibilities that go with my work, plus having 9 other people in our home to serve.  There is no justification for my failure, though I was offered very good explanations for my sudden defeat.  But, my view of the world is changing on this Thanksgiving Day.  God met me through my wife, through the Scriptures, through friends who encouraged me and prayed for me.  I'm out of my self made prison. I will not abandon the call of God on my life.  Satan is not the one to counsel me.  God will direct my steps.  He has heard my cry.

He has brought me out of prison so I can thank Him.  Happy Thanksgiving.





4 comments:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
    God is so amazing in the ways he speaks to us. Even when all roads seem so dark, he calls us to walk with him. His ways are not mans ways, his not a man that he can lie.
    "Where You Lead, Lord i shall follow, Where i go is in your plan. What I pray is your desire, What i need is in your hands. All i ask is your forgiveness, Lord you are so LOVING that i still have a chance."
    That is how deep the fathers LOVE is to us.
    Am praying for you Dad. The devil has no authority over anything in your life. Uganda may come with its challenges and oppressions, But you lift up a name that is above every other name, the Banner of victory, the Lion of Judah, his name is Jesus Christ.

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Ezra. It is great when our choice is simply following His choice. May you always be motivated by your love for the Lord.

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  3. May the Lord continue to strengthen both of you in your ministry. This blog is a good reminder to me of my continual need for His grace and love. Our tanks get empty sometimes.
    I'm sorry to hear of your loss regarding your friend/co-worker. Though we may understand in the spirit, it sure can still sting our heart.
    Much love to Pam and you.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Therese. You may know that deception is a big part of the African culture since it was founded on witchcraft. So, though we are, we shouldn't be surprised by such betrayal. His grace is sufficient.

      Thanks for you love and prayers! They are so encouraging!

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