Sunday, May 25, 2014

3 surprises about "his and hers"

Alliums: the beautiful onion
W and I have had at least three surprises about assumptions on "his and hers":

1. On our documents, I'm the missionary. He's technically the "spouse." Yet God called us equally as children to cross-cultural life. (Admittedly, since I'm a year older, I probably got called first.) A prime consideration for our marriage and life together was that shared vision.

The assumption when we arrive at a church is an old paradigm: he speaks. She comes along but does things behind the scenes. However, there's never been reluctance to power up a second mike: the churches have been flexible, open to a new model, and welcoming to us both.

2. We love to speak and work together. W's honed his teaching gift in the classroom, based in a university office. I taught in multiple settings, from a home base of raising our kids. Both of us like speaking in public. Yes, we like it - our gut feeling is comfort, of "coming home," when we stand before people.

We started speaking together this year, trading off naturally. The positive reactions have been overwhelming: "It was so much more interesting than having one person stand up and talk," "How do you work together seamlessly?" and  "How do you do that?" We consider the ease of interaction God's gift to each of us - and to the Church.

3. God has given us complementary gifts. We've come to appreciate the overlap and breadth of our interests. 

W likes gathering and applying information. I like connecting new and old relationships, ideas, patterns, and resources. At our best, W explains complex things simply, so everyone can understand. He passes along what he knows - whether that's theology, technology, or practical know-how. And I link people, resources, and systems for interdependence. I'm happiest when people interact and become empowered in fresh ways.

Who knew? God is full of surprises. While I experienced some limitations while raising the kids and keeping house, I've had many opportunities to write, mentor, and speak over the years.

Our curiosity remains unquenched. Our interests are as broad as ever. And our vision for God-with-us is wider than before. We're looking forward to new surprises ahead!

Is your life full of anticipation? In times of change, do you expect that our creative God is able to keep you safe, thriving, and challenged? That He's enough to meet the needs of the day, even  (especially) when the hours unfold in unexpected ways? 

You can trust him. You can lean on him. And you may be astonished by how well everything fits together, considering who you are as a person and everything you have done until now. After all, God is never surprised by what's coming. He has it all planned out and under his control.

Thanks be to God.

Read more:
*And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7

*Jesus said to the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." Matthew 9:22 ESV

*Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2 ESV

*[Hearing and Doing the Word ] Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ... James 1:19 ESV

Moravian Prayer: God, what is it that you ask of us? Take our possessions, Lord. Take our hearts, our lives, everything into your hands and bless us today and evermore. Amen.

From C. S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Trader
“When the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was, lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.”

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