Unafraid,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

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Dirt road in a Yangon village, at New Year’s Eve

We have come to the end of another year. The media was filled with commentaries on the year that was consigned to history, and speculative predictions on what lies ahead. For me, the end of the year is always a reflective time; a time for taking stock of what I am doing with the time allotted to me. Human beings have always marked time by significant events. The real question is not whether we will mark time, but how we will do so. What events and what messages are we proclaiming in the calendaring of time? How do we view time?

The Lord who created time, now gives us time as a gift. In Him, time now becomes a field of choice wherein we can grow in holiness, and find real freedom.

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20 floors above ground, at pink sunset

Life is a classroom for those who are willing to learn its many lessons – and living faith opens our eyes and shines light on the way.

What brought me real joy this year: there was so many instances of beauty in the year. Unfathomable grace to try again, to begin anew, to learn how to let go fully and completely so that with a loose grasp, I can prepare to receive.

On the last day of 2017, I: couldn’t have felt more at peace enjoying the local community in Yangon, Myanmar. Sharing a local meal with Pastor Mark and his family, and also with the local Burmese pastor, and the village children who are learning English. Who, at the age of 16, do not own a mobile phone, yet possess such quick dexterity when I request for a selfie.

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They described their house as ‘beautiful’, and to be honest, I didn’t know how to respond.

If I could change one thing about this year it would be: to have gratitude. At the end of 2017 I wish that I were more ashamed at how often I was ungrateful and demanding of life and God, and of people. I would more readily be embarrassed by the ways I am so aware of my lack, and careless with my plenty.

I would try to see the world as ‘beautiful’ instead, because I already have all that I could ask for – life in abundance today, as Jesus has promised, and life eternally.

If I could travel back to the beginning of the year, I would: let it go a little faster – let the frustration of work go, let the disappointment of failed relationships go.

Seneca, wrote: “It is not that we have so little time, but that we have wasted so much of it“.

What will stand the test of time? Only what was done for Christ will last.

Time is the opportunity for the Christian to bear fruit that remains.

Jesus reminds me, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15: 16, 17).

As we consider the timeline of God’s unfolding plan, the redemption of the nations, the God who gives and governs time, invites us to re-dedicate ourselves to living differently, in time.

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Our hotel was luxurious, and the carpets were so thick I couldn’t walk properly. The infinity pool led down to the Anglican cathedral just across from the hotel.

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So where is GOD moving next? How will He restore the divided nation of Myanmar?

On 31 Dec 2017, we find ourselves exactly where we should be – feeling the pulse and sensing the heartbeat of this nation on the cusp of a social awakening.

To explore the world is a wonderful privilege.

To do so with dear friends a gift for the year end. 

 

So, decide in your heart – to revere Christ as Lord. And come 2018, we will step boldly forward, unafraid in His perfect love. And ready to bear the fruit for His Name alone.

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What is lacking

Today, as I reflect on the week that has passed, and the various encounters in the camp, I find it marked by anything but peace.

The peace that can only be found by resting in Him. The second week of December has me feeling frantic, a little behind, and weighed down. Yes, heavy.

Holding on too tightly to something makes it harder to keep it. But this heart can be at peace with possessing only what He provides. The part I play in the peace God gives – letting go.

So I’m looking – for opportunities to encounter Jesus daily. To move away from the distractions of the day, of the Advent season, that will cause me to miss Him and the peace He offers when I trust in Him.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27)

So home to Your safe harbour, take me. Lay my weary heart down, down where Your peace flows in, and Your joy pours out.

#29 hug somebody

Today, tonight was particularly difficult.

But I am grateful I could #be the gift; there was someone to hug after all 😊

Grateful also for dear sisters who would buy me a slice of chocolate smores pie, just because.

Grateful for so many opportunities and things to capture my imagination. Grateful for the Bigger Story I’m in.

And even if it doesn’t bring me where I had hoped to go, for Lord, You know what my heart had hoped, I’m grateful anyway for You.

Twice removed

Every year, the memories I have of my father become more faint and unclear, and distant. Once they were vivid and painful, then, they became like photographs. Only the good, the crinkly smiling eyes and prosperous grins captured in stillness. And now they are photographs of the photographs.

It is as Krauss wrote – the truth was I’d given up waiting long ago. The moment had passed, the door between lives we could have led and the lives we led had shut in our faces. And sometimes no length of indecisiveness is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said.

In such cases, all there is needed is conducted silence. And to walk away, quickly, before either party does something foolish.

Perhaps this is what it means to be a father – to teach your child to live without you.

And even this thought gives me a feeling in my heart that isn’t an ache, but something different.

When will you

I know you, my heart said. I knew you by the way the heart thundered in my ears. 13 years may have passed but I can still feel the scars. I can chart its path all the way back to the core that still remains inaccessibly numb. 
And the mind is in a jumbled messy blankness, the way it always is with over-stimulation. And the heart continues to remain as inaccessible as it was those years ago, and what I cannot access I cannot remove. 

I cannot remove it. Still it lingers. 

The odd grief, yes, it’s very heaviness, squats here, in the general vicinity where the rib cage meets the lungs. 

I poke at it, push around the old memories we don’t like to remember because they make us sad, push it around in the mind and swirl it around like bitter medicine i am not inclined to drink but will have to because i want to feel better. 

Yes. I want to feel better. 

Your face was so strange, and strange is the wrong adjective, because you are weird and wonderful but a stranger. 

Awake my soul to the Hope You hold. Arrest my heart from this reckless path, and release the chains, Lord. 

Hymn for the morning

The saints should never be dismayed, / Nor sink in hopeless fear; 

For when they least expect His aid,/ The Saviour will appear. 
This Abraham found, he raised the knife, /God saw, and said, ‘Forbear;’

Yon ram shall yield his meaner life, /Behold the victim there. 
Once David seemed Saul’s certain prey, but hark! The foe’s at hand;

Saul turns his arms another way, /To save th’ invaded land. 
When Jonah sunk beneath the wave/ he thought to rise no more;

But God prepared a fish to save, / And bear him to the shore.
Blest proofs of pow’r and grace divine, that meet us in His Word! 

May ever deep-felt care of mine, Be trusted with the Lord.
Wait for His seasonable aid, /And though it tarry wait

The promise may be long-delayed, 

But cannot come too late. 


William Cowper 

Why regulate? 

Quick thoughts before my final interview of the year: Should government regulate business? 

The first order question is if there is a specific need for government to protect the interests of citizens. One clear need is  preventing businesses from engaging in fraud. But we do not need administrative regulation for that – there are statutes and civil / criminal legal means, and our judicial system should give citizens that basic level of protection. 

We may need to regulate business to protect the public from ‘market failure’ – but this is tenuous because many so-called market failures are actually a result of misguided government policy or regulation to begin with. In today’s age of open access to information, the nature of competition has changed, and if price and service demand signals go unheeded, market forces will act to correct the private firms. However, there is still a need to guard against negative externalities that affect the public which are not taken into account in price. If the price equlibrium between demand and supply does not accurately reflect the true costs of the product, externalities ensue. 

What are these regulatory instruments? 

Prices, requiring disclosure of information. Government can play a role by taxing goods, or by imposing rules backed by the use of penalties intended specifically to modify the economic behaviour of firms. 

Yet not all forms of regulation have to be mandated or imposed by the government. Self-regulation can be adopted by the business to maintain professional reputation or ethical standards. 

Finally, I believe that the mandate should be to be mindful of the real costs of regulation in terms of competitiveness. Deregulation has become increasingly equated with promoting competition and market-oriented approaches towards pricing and entry. 

pbj friday

October recedes.

We carry the lives we’ve imagined as we carry the lives we have, and sometimes a reckoning comes of all the lives we have lost.

And sometimes we take it upon ourselves to burn them to ashes.

To be more fully loved, perhaps. And because we live with the hidden acceptance that we need to excel in order to be loved, we also neglect the unspoken coda to that sentence.

What happens if you excel and find you are still unloved?

Once more

Afraid.

How am I to run this section of the race? I tire so quickly, and my mind is not focused on the Finish Line.

I’m distracted by scents and sights. I don’t have the strength to finish.

Lord, please help me in my short-sighted weaknesses. I’m not who I should be, but by Your grace, I am what I am.